X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs

Brave, the Oscars and the Scottish Cringe.

25 February 2013

1:47 PM

25 February 2013

1:47 PM

Hurrah for Brave, the little movie that could! And did! All Scotland salutes her Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Another triumph for the plucky underdogs at Disney-Pixar.

That, at any rate, is the Scottish government’s view. This “Scottish film” (according to the SNP’s official twitter feed) is another example of Caledonian excellence. Only pedants and churls – of which the country possesses no shortage – can fail to be stirred by the movie’s victory in a minor Oscar category.

Well, of course, there’s nothing wrong with liking Brave – a perfectly decent movie – and nothing wrong with preferring it to animated movies you most probably have not seen. But, really, there’s something desperate, something dispiriting, about pretending that its success owes anything significant to its setting. If Brave is a “Scottish film” then the latest version of Les Miserables is a triumph of French cinema. Somehow, however, I doubt Francois Holland felt the need to associate himself with that sprawling mess. The French have no need to debase themselves in such a fashion.

Moreover, by these standards Brigadoon is also a triumph of “Scottish” cinema even though the movie’s producers found nowhere in Scotland that looked sufficiently Scottish in which to film it. The suggestion that all Scots should somehow be cheered by Pixar’s latest triumph, allowing us to bask in some modest measure of reflected glory, makes about as much sense as “supporting” a production of Macbeth at the Olivier awards.

[Alt-Text]


Again, there’s little wrong with Brave. But it was depressing to witness nationalists (on Twitter, chiefly) complaining that the BBC had (initially) failed to afford Disney’s latest triumph the space, attention and recognition it deserved. Was this, the inference went, because the movie was set in Scotia? Oh dear.

Similarly, it was suggested that only the sourest-spirited Unionist could fail to be cheered by this movie’s success. Again, the implication was that if you weren’t aboard the Team Brave bandwagon you were guilty of “talking Scotland down” or some such other example of pompous tommyrot.

Worse still, noting that it is daft to claim a movie as “Scottish” simply because it happens to be set in a fictional, fantasy Scotland was, I was told, clear evidence that the naysayer was crippled by the famous Scottish cringe.

But, actually, I think the cringe factor works the other way round. It is one thing to boast of the country’s real successes, quite another to invent them in the first place. There’s nothing especially grievous about the mythical Scotland in which Brave is set but I’d only note – in passing – that this romantic, fantastical Scotland often tends to provoke left-wing (and some nationalist) ire when it’s delivered by the wrong people (you can guess who they are).  Perhaps there is a Disney exception.

The Scottish government cannot be accused of missing an opportunity for grandstanding, however. The First Minister attended the movie’s premiere in California while VisitScotland and Disney arranged for a tourism campaign costing a reported £7m. A nice piece of corporate welfare, that. And who knows, perhaps Brave will persuade some folk to take their vacation in Scotland rather than elsewhere. Perhaps. Not much harm in that.

Nevertheless, Mr Salmond’s suggestion that Braveflies the flag for Scotland” is nonsensical. All this relentless boosterism becomes wearisome. It doth protest too much. It reminds one of Sally Fields’ gushing, toe-curling Oscar acceptance speech in which she breathlessly declared: ‘I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!’

The cringe lies not with those largely indifferent to Brave’s success but with those who suggest we should be flattered – nay, honoured! – by the fact that an American movie company chose to set a cartoon in Scotland rather than in Iceland, Transylvania, Peru or any one of a thousand other locations that could just as easily satisfied the movie’s story demands. Look at us! Just look at us! Hollywood loves us! There is something oddly demeaning about this.

It’s a good wee movie. If you liked it then, sure, be happy it has done well. But, really, it’s got next to nothing to do with us and pretending that it does risks making you seem slightly silly. A truly confident country – or political sensibility – wouldn’t need to make exaggerated claims for it.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close