From the 1960s to the 1980s it was those dastardly Soviets and from 2001 to present day it’s been anyone that looks like they might be from a hot country. Movies and TV shows are obviously a reflection of public opinion (by “public” I, of course, mean “American”) but during the period between, a trend began and continued: that of the evil Brit.
It seems that if a movie requires a truly diabolical villain, the following boxes must be ticked:
They must be well dressed, have good taste in food and wine, appreciate fine art and music and speak with an accent crisper than the Queen’s.
Where did that cliché come from?!
Granted; back when ¼ of the world’s population was under the Empire, the words “smug” and “Superior” were pretty much tattooed on our decidedly pale faces. But the Victorian era has been gone for nigh on a century, and even back in the day, we weren’t exactly what you’d call “bad”, just bloody arrogant, which can easily be said for any major world power in the contemporary age.
In all honesty; I’d quite like the population of Blighty to be made up of evil masterminds, but they’re not. They’re mostly a mob of drunken, football-obsessed inebriates, more interested in the latest series of Big Brother than plotting world domination. They don’t sit in darkened rooms, rocking back and forth in oversized armchairs, cackling over plans for super weapons that may, one day, deliver them the Earth.
It’s a fact I lament.
If they did have a diabolical bone or two they might just get off their ever-increasing arses and do something constructive.
Like capture Paris.
Or steal Belgium.
So why, then, in the face of this ineptitude, are the Brits always cast as modern villains?
Well, I think a substantial amount of blame has to be laid at the feet of Alan Rickman and that most English of “Germans”, Hans Gruber. He’s the definitive “Evil Limey” and has been a stereotype ever since he crashed that Christmas party.
Lazy Hollywood writers.
Need a villain? Think Rickman!
Too expensive? Find someone with an English accent.
And a suit.
THERE’s the root of the matter!
….or, at least, half of it.
When describing the populous of Britain, I did say “mostly”.
You see; there are Brits up to no good.
Ignoring the aristocracy, whose minds have probably turned to the destruction of mainland Europe now that fox-hunting has been banned, we have the government and all those associated with it.
In Iraq, our forces are instigating the sinister-sounding “Overwatch”, at home our military has launched a satellite called “Skynet” and during times of domestic strife, such as the tube bombings or the 2007 floods, an emergency coordination facility is activated called “COBRA”.
MI6 operates from a building that looks more like the lair of a Bond villain than the hero, Parliament is run from a gothic palace that wouldn’t look out of place in Dracula, pretty much every major town and city has a street with the word “Gallows” in it and we’re helping to fund the CERN accelerator; a potential doomsday device that could create a black hole.
Oh, sod it. Let’s just play the role.
Dibs on Australia.