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Wild Mountain Thyme: Film critic hits out at 'representational fascism' of Ireland

One film critic says Irish stereotypes should exist 'in parallel' with pluralistic ideas of a mod...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.11 10 May 2021


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Wild Mountain Thyme: Film crit...

Wild Mountain Thyme: Film critic hits out at 'representational fascism' of Ireland

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.11 10 May 2021


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One film critic says Irish stereotypes should exist 'in parallel' with pluralistic ideas of a modern Ireland.

Kevin Maher is chief film critic of The Times in Britain.

He said the heavily-criticised film 'Wild Mountain Thyme' presents a view of Ireland that is anti-Irish, and thinks it should come with a "content advisory" warning to caution viewers that what they are about to see is "racial stereotyping of the highest order".

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He told Newstalk Breakfast: "My tongue is slightly in cheek when I say there should be a content advisory warning.

"I think, instead, there should be just equivalence between every other type of cinema.

"At the moment it's a hot-button issue - representation - the French character Pepé Le Pew has been yanked from the new Warner Bros 'Space Jam' movie.

"Disney+ are actually putting, on their streaming service, content advisory warnings on old episodes of 'The Muppets' when they feature characters like a gypsy at one point - so that'll be offensive to people - and Johnny Cash I believe is standing in front of a rebel flag.

"In this context, it just blows my mind that a film like 'Wild Mountain Thyme' can exist and can be promoted by Hollywood, can star Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan - and yet it delivers a depiction of Ireland that's gone beyond 'Quiet Man' paddywhackery and is just borderline offensive: full of Guinness drinking, brain-damaged gombeens."

'The gombeen man'

Kevin suggested this is a sliding scale of deciding where you call a stop to it.

"This sliding scale goes back to the roots of colonial oppression - and the gombeen man is what people in the 17th century justified for invading Ireland and planting it and civilising it.

"Obviously that's been a bit pole faced and drawing a direct comparison to 'Wild Mountain Thyme'.

"But in the environment we're in, it just feels a bit like representational fascism: I don't know why Ireland has been ring-fenced as this place where idiotic stereotypes are great fun and the craic".

And he added that this latest incarnation is nothing more than a remake of 1952's 'The Quiet Man'.

"There's this idea of post-colonial internalisation of stereotypes, and Irish people especially seem to be really happy with the cruddy Irish stereotype.

"The Irish Tourist Board makes millions off it every year - I think maybe we're at a time when we can question that.

"Maybe the issue is really that these stereotypes can exist if they must, but they should exist in parallel to movies like 'What Richard Did' and films that examine Ireland as a pluralistic place.

"Examine Ireland as a place where tech headquarters of Facebook, Twitter and Google are set up, and that it's a place of different identities.

"But it's the fact that nothing has changed from 'Wild Mountain Thyme' since 1952 in 'The Quiet Man': it's the exact same film, literally, in almost its structure.

"It's the same idea about a sophisticated American coming into a backward place and being sort of beguiled by it - John Hamm is the John Wayne character.

"So nothing has changed, and I think that's worthy of interrogation".

Asked if the perception will change, Kevin suggested: "It'll only change if it makes no money - and thankfully 'Wild Mountain Thyme' hasn't made much.

"It's been the most worst review film since 'Cats', basically.

"There'll always be an argument that it's worth a punt... for 40/50 million Irish-Americans that go to the cinema.

"So I think until the American audience starts copping on to difficult issues, I think films like this will emerge every three or four years."

Wild Mountain Thyme: Film critic hits out at 'representational fascism' of Ireland

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

Main image: Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan are seen in 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. Picture by: Bleecker Street Media

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Read more about

Content Advisory Warning Ireland Kevin Maher Newstalk Breakfast Paddywhackery Representational Fascism Stereotypes The Quiet Man Wild Mountain Thyme

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