May 12, 2010

TO TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY IS TO REWARD THEIR LUNACY:

The slapstick side to Islamic terrorism: Chris Morris’s depiction of jihadists as dunces who hate slags and Maccy D’s is scarily accurate. (Neil Davenport, 5/12/10, Spiked)

In a climactic scene in Chris Morris’s debut feature-length movie Four Lions, armed police ask aspiring jihadist Waj (Kayvan Novak), who is about to blow up a kebab shop, what his demands are. ‘Um, we don’t have any demands’, he replies, gormlessly.

In a single stroke, Morris – and his fellow writers, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain of Peep Show fame – rip apart the supposed political pretensions of deluded jihadists and also have a sly cackle at the Islamists’ expense. We should expect nothing less from three of the sharpest, most forensic comedy minds in Britain, and, on an observational level at least, Four Lions works very well.

The film opens with a botched attempt to record a martyrdom video, which is deeply absurdist and also captures the narcissistic degeneracy of jihadism in all its non-glory. [...]

Morris has apparently done years of research, and it shows. One of the most acute parts of the film is the interaction between Omar and his more traditionally religious brother. ‘Don’t give me that look’, says Omar. ‘You’re doing the face again’, he says, as his brother indicates growing disapproval of Omar’s apocalyptic fantasies. This cleverly echoes the experience of the 7/7 bombers from Leeds, who, contrary to received wisdom, radicalised themselves rather than being brainwashed at a local mosque or by some hook-wielding preacher.

So what, exactly, is getting these ‘four lions’ all fired up? Omar makes passing, unconvincing references to ‘Western imperialism’ and says: ‘Just pretend you’re from Gaza.’ But he actually spends more time railing against McDonald’s, consumerism and the ‘kaffir slags’ who go out dancing on a Friday night. That’s right: they possess some very mainstream liberal prejudices.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 12, 2010 6:28 AM
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