Has Theresa May styled herself on these childhood movie villains?
PUBLISHED: 11:37 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 06 June 2017
From Cruella DeVil to Miss Trunchbull, the prime minister bears comparison to the great baddies of childhood nightmares
This has got to be one of the most dysfunctional campaigns ever.
In the seven-way televised debate, one leader was conspicuous by her absence: the tired looking PM, who called the election in the first place.
Theresa May talks about being strong and stable, and June 8 may well be the judge of that on technical terms, but failing to debate her opponents suggests she is neither strong nor stable. Theresa May is much more like a villain.
Every story has one. From a young age, a fear of such women was instilled in us. In childhood films, women were either pure, virginal, childlike characters, or they were nasty and mean-spirited. There were no Nicola Sturgeons or Caroline Lucases, but there were plenty Theresa Mays.
May’s rise to power was sly. During the EU referendum, she was hush-hush on where she stood in the debate. She dealt light whispers that she was ‘remaining’, and yet barely got involved in the campaign because she knew if David Cameron became wounded by the result, she’d have a good chance of becoming the next PM.
Then, when a leadership contest came around, all of a sudden, May was the only candidate left standing, and so by power of default, she became the most powerful person in the country.
And while this country attempts to heal wounds caused by the referendum, May seems to want to gouge them out again, causing more rifts, and more instability.
Does it sound like the plot of a Disney story to you?
In the Roald Dahl classic novels, Matilda, which was also a hit film directed by Danny DeVito, the villain is Miss Trunchbull, headteacher of Crunchem Hall Primary School.
The Conservative manifesto states: “We do not believe that giving school lunches to all children free of charge for the first three years of primary school – regardless of the income of their parents – is a sensible use of public money.” May’s pledge means that the poorest will still receive free school meals, but those who don’t fit the mark, and yet can’t afford an adequate, healthy lunch, will be losing out on what a lot of them rely on as their main meal of the day.
And while the idealistic grammar school May wants to bring back is far from Crunchem Hall’s use of The Chokey and physically punishing children for having pig tails, Trunchbull’s Crunchem Hall was indeed a grammar school. Trunchbull wanted the brightest pupils, bright only being measured in academia. Trunchbull disapproved of art. Can you remember the scene where Miss Honey had been teaching the kids something creative and they had to hide it away when Miss Trunchbull came in? Theresa May claims she isn’t taking us back to the 1950s, but in bringing back grammar schools, but isn’t she taking us back to an ideal that could be more likened to Crunchem Hall, than Grange Hill?
The Little Mermaid
In The Little Mermaid, Ursula’s thirst for power led her to deceive Ariel into thinking that if she gave up her voice, she could become human, and would be able to marry Prince Eric. This cloak of deceit is something May wore when she convinced the general public that she would not hold a snap election, as it would risk causing more rifts. Very soon after, May announces an election to follow in six weeks, an election she wants to win so that she can control the Brexit negotiations absolutely. Liar Liar GE17, by Captain Ska, a song which was originally written in 2010 about George Osborne, accuses May of being a liar, and insists that we can’t trust her. The song is now in the top five in the charts, so clearly it resonates with the people.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
In C.S Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jadis was named the White Witch of Narnia because it was she who froze the land in the Hundred Years Winter. Consequentially, in Narnia, it was always winter, but never Christmas. Outside of Narnia, in the human world, we are forced to wonder whether or not Theresa May, in taking us out of the EU on her Hard Brexit terms, risks economically freezing our land to a point of no return. Her intentions of austerity, cuts to almost all public services and the introduction of the dementia tax, could lead us into a permanent winter, without ever experiencing the benefits of Christmas.
Cruella DeVil was an iconic collector and connoisseur of clothes, which is something Theresa May also reckons to be, with her bold necklace choices, her leopard print kitten heels, and her leather trousers. However this isn’t the only thing the two women have in common. Both women have a desire to cull animals. DeVil’s character’s main ambitious was to kill dalmatians for her own fashionable benefit. And now, May has announced she would put a vote to Parliament on whether or not to bring back fox-hunting, not necessarily for fashion, but certainly for pleasure.
The Prime Minister, like all of the women we were taught to be fearful of, is one day going to see her own demise. Even if she wins a slight majority, her strong and stable leadership looks like it needs a nap, and a line that was originally set out to highlight how weak Corbyn is as a leader, has come back to bite her, just like Matilda did with Miss Trunchbull. Nothing good lasts forever. In fact, especially if you’re a villain.
Grace Campbell is a soon to be graduated student filmmaker and feminist. She co-founded the female collective Baewatch ’N’ Learn, which looks at art through the female gaze. For more information, visit www.baewatchandlearn.co.uk