On Saturday, I watched the film Pride. Truth be told, I had kind of forgotten that this was in my queue, but I was pleasantly surprised when it arrives. Yes, I am still one of probably a small percentage of individuals that still has a Netflix DVD plan. It’s useful for moments and small films like this one.
It is an independent film based on a true story. Obviously, elements have been changed for the sake of narrative and drama, but overall the core narrative is still a worthwhile watch. The story revolves around a small group of British lesbian and gay activists raising funds and awareness for/of the plight and struggle of the unionized miners of Britain during the summer of 1984 when they were on strike. It is an intriguing film that I highly recommend. As always SPOILERS ahead.
Honestly, the film itself is chock-full of intelligent wisdom and debate all on its own, I am almost tempted to just tell you to watch the film in its entirety and be done with it. However, I will try to focus on a few stand out points and examples. The first lesson comes directly from the words of Dai (played by Paddy Considine) the leader of one of the protesting miners group: “It’s friendship. When you’re in a battle against an enemy so much bigger, so much stronger than you, well, to find out you had a friend you never knew existed, well, that’s the best feeling in the world. So, thank you.”
This is the basis of the film. Uniting with others to confront and defeat a stronger, more ruthless foe; in this case, gay and lesbian activists teaming up with the miners to take on the oppressive English government and its policies. No one has ever managed to do anything on their own and when taking on such a powerful force as the fucking British government, you need some backup. They may have had initial differences, but these two groups knew they could do far more in unison than separate. Together they changed the entire fucking country and made history.
Of course, no movement is without some obstacles and the film does not back away from that, even if the issues present resolve themselves rather quickly. After the miner community overcomes their homophobia (mostly and because of dance number mainly), they are still faced with the near impossible task of actually taking on the British government. Eventually they become dejected and miserable and begin to lose hope. As one character puts it, “Nothing worse than a hopeless cause. Once that happens you’re dead.”
This is obviously two fold for both the miners’ protest and the gay rights movements in Britain. The miners are feeling the pain and turmoil of a long battle and are unsure how to carry on (in grand English tradition). In order to keep their spirits alive, the women of the mining community sing a song during a winter celebration to keep their hopes up. Sometimes the only thing we have amid the worst of times is our own resilience and knowledge that we are not alone. It is not much but it enough to help us through. This scene best exemplifies this idea.
There is one final aspect I wanted to touch on in this post. During the pro-miners campaign the original support group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), have a bit of an internal schism over ideologies and politics. As members have a “private” disagreement in public, an older woman chimes in and basically says that she doesn’t care about what they want to do or say as long as they stop interrupting the BINGO game that is being played.
While intended for comedy, the point remains discuss, debate, and argue over the nuances of politics, social etiquette, responsibility, etc. but at the end of the day, you still need to actually do the work. As a former grad student (and possibly prospective), this was one of my biggest gripes of the classroom. There were a bunch of, usually, white, middle-class, twenty year olds arguing over the nuances of oppression and theory without ever actually doing anything (for the most part as there were a few that would actually join protest movements and such). In the end, talk is easy; work gets things done.
Thus endeth today’s lesson.