Monday, 28 May 2012

What Republicans Can Do on the Jubilee

Well that big day is fast approaching, the Jubilee, another day in the calender for Monarchists to celebrate there obsessions popularity. Funny how things seem popular when you only bother to ask about them when they've given you an excuse for a picnic and a Village fate. Lets see if that ratio changes the next time there's another sex scandal or the heir to the throne starts channelling Caligula. But I'm starting to digress from the point, what is to be done by those of us not terminally enamoured with the Windsor's because its "traditional" -another brief aside, what a stupid argument, tradition means nothing more then keeping something going long past its use because you're to lazy or un imaginative to think of something better- well you can join a protest or Republican social event if there's one in your are (best check here) Or you can stay in and listen to this much better Jubilee from Dr Who's Big Finish audio books. I know Dr Who isn't to everyone's tastes and may seem a bit crass comparing an actual State event to an quirky muck about in time and space with a man dressed in a coat seemingly stitched together from fabric found in the waste bin of seamstress whom caters exclusively to clowns.

But honestly Jubilee is really good, its set in an alternate history where the Daleks invaded earth (again) only to have the Doctor show up and lead a band of freedom fighters to Victory over the Daleks and save the earth (again) but that's only the background. After the celebrations ended and the Doctor left, the English army captured Dalek tech and after figuring out how it worked went about rebuilding its Empire eventually conquering the world. That was in 1903 you see, and it appears the Daleks appearance instead of beating them around the heads that humanity should unite if only because we need to defend ourselves against greater cosmic threats it appears to have vindicated the Imperial Leadership that dominating the "lesser races" keeps a race healthy and vigorous so it was time to show Johnny Foreigner what for lads.

Fast forward to 2003 with the Doctor having no memory of his hundred year old adventure the Doctor finds himself the lauded hero of one of the most twisted and brutal regimes he's ever come across. All in time for the Jubilee celebrations! talk about good timing. It seems that once an Empire has done the impossible and actually conquered all the lands to conquer (Alex the Great was just being lazy) its not long before degeneration sets in. Our brave and Glorious Nobility have become a fascinating cross between Roman Imperial excess and Victorian Stoicism. For example Nigel Rochester the "President" (the Presidency is hereditary) frequently indulges in vice but instead of going to orgies or chariot races he instead plays with toy Daleks and contracts his sentences.

He also has the last survivor of the Dalek invasion force imprisoned in the Tower of London, and said Dalek is currently being tortured to get it to speak as Nigel plans to execute it at the Jubilee. If that sounds familiar then you've probably been watching the "New" Dr Who series on the BBC. In particular the early episode Dalek, that episode was loosely based on Jubilee only minus much of the satire and hyper violence.

In between the Byzantine plots and Dalek torture Jubilee also finds time to poke fun at the franchises commercialisation. You may be familiar with the term Dalekmania and how for decades the fascination with the Daleks has enabled the Public broadcaster to rake in millions flogging Dalek toys and stickers and what not. This practice has continued well into the shows revival, I can remember reading a Private Eye article that said the sales of the Remote Control Dalek in Britain Alone covered the cost of the BBC's entire overseas operations. That's the sale of just one toy type, in one country excluding the sales of other Dalek/Dr Who merchandise and sales abroad where Dr Who has a smaller but still quite devoted fan-base.

In this brave new world we have Dalek films, Dalek theme parks, Dalek toys, Dalekade (lemonade with a picture of a Dalek on the bottle) and grossly Dalek Juice which I wish was apple juice with a picture of a Dalek, its real content isn't pleasant but shows just how deep this obsession with the Pepper pot Fascist runs and how unhealthy it is. It also pokes some fun at altering history to make the message more fun and "positive". The Dr is the English Empires hero, but since he's well the Dr his empathy for all living beings, constant attempts to find peaceful compromises and ghastly coat meant certain alterations were needed to make him fit the ideology. For example in popular fiction he wears a soldiers uniform and leads charges against the alien invaders. The very first part of this audio drama is a fictious trailer for Daleks the Ultimate Adventure, with Colin Baker replaced by a Macho 80's action hero "I'm sending you mutated Pepper Pots Straight back to Hell!" with the narrator promising us plenty of "Daleks getting killed in very loud explosions".

And while this was unintentional given that it was recorded back in 2003 there's a bit of dialogue between the Doctor and Nigel that seems oddly appropriate to our current Jubilee festivities. When flying over the city of London the Dr notices that much of it is extremely dilapidated and ruined. It turns out Nigel's dad wanted to redesign the entire city into a metropolis "Fit for Heroes" but lost interest after the demolitions were finished. When asked why he hasn't bothered to finish the project Nigel shrugs, says architecture isn't his thing and besides he is given his people a Jubilee celebration, with bunting and everything, and we all know the people would rather have a mass narcissistic picnic over decent housing right?

 Here's a preview if you still need some convincing.

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