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(Credit: Pulp)

Film

The surreal film that Jarvis Cocker likened to Donald Trump’s America

“This is not a question of being wrong or being right,” Jarvis Cocker recently sang on the environmental anthem ‘Let’s Stick Around’ based on the recent COP26, “Because if what we say is wrong then that’s just fine, it’s more a question of being on the outside, because then if what we say is right, at least we tried.”

This notion of collectivism geared towards a noble cause is something that Jarvis Cocker has prided himself on. He showed his bottom to Michael Jackson to protest him pretending to be Jesus, he sang the tale of common people, and he has frequently backed Extinction Rebellion protests. Needless to say, his views often run contrary to former President Donald Trump. 

And there is one film amid Jarvis Cocker’s all-time favourites that he says offers up an eerie reflection of modern America in the wake of Trump’s presidential tirade. Speaking about Tim Burton’s Batman Returns from 1992, the Pulp frontman declared: “The Penguin’s Gotham City is frighteningly similar to Tr*mp’s America.”

And aside from the perturbing societal foreshadowing of the film, he also picked out a scene that could almost compete with Midnight Cowboy’s classic contribution among the greatest party scenes in history. “Listen out for a very good version ‘U Can’t Touch This’ at an arty party,” Cocker added.

Watch Jarvis Cocker’s psychedelic cover of The Fall

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Fittingly, The Penguin himself, Danny DeVito has recently taken aim at current American politics. The vertically challenged Hollywood hero simply wrote “Supreme Court my ass” in response to the recent Roe v. Wade verdict. It is a strange testimony to how bipartisan America has become and it is an almost surreal sign of that in how clearly the times reflect a comic work of fractious fiction. 

To put it in plain terms, just imagine this official synopsis being remotely reflective of real life: “While Batman deals with a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaking havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman, a female employee of the latter becomes the Catwoman with her own vendetta.” The fact that Cocker correctly states that the madness of that sentence is  “frighteningly similar to Tr*mp’s America,” is a gauge of the strange times we now find ourselves in. 

For good measure, try out this berserk tagline for size when it comes to the madness of Batman Returns somehow mirroring modern society: “From the Sewers of Gotham, and New Villain Emerges. From the Rooftops of Gotham, the Purrrfect Enemy Comes to Life. And the Only One Who Can Save this City, is a Creature of the Night.” If the fact that that holds a strange prescience doesn’t give pause then nothing will. 

As Cocker added regarding the original Batman series: If you want to see a spot-on representation of the Donald Trump ‘phenomenon’, watch the episode Hizzonner the Penguin: the Penguin runs for mayor of Gotham City with a campaign aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator. Batman attempts to stop him, reasoning: ‘If our national leaders were elected on the basis of tricky slogans, brass bands and pretty girls, our country would be in a terrible mess, wouldn’t it?’ Hmmmm.”

Adding: “Tim Burton incorporated this storyline into his 1992 film Batman Returns which is also well worth re-viewing. If only for the exploding penguins. Batman rules.” We only wish he didn’t rule with such surreal foresight.

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