Monday, September 22, 2014
Pride is an act of reverse alchemy, turning something beautiful and rare into depressingly ordinary dreck. In 1984, a handful of gay people in London formed a group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), to raise money for striking miners in the Dulais, Wales during Margaret Thatcher's icily anti-labor reign. It was a visionary response to a grave threat—both to the miners and, as an LGSM member noted in a documentary made at the time, all the other unions the Thatcher regime would surely go after if they beat this one—yet the film it has spawned is as formulaically cheery, didactically "uplifting," and fundamentally false as a Disney sports movie, bloated with swelling music, healing hugs and hearty handshakes, suspiciously eloquent impromptu speeches, and tight-lipped expressions of bigotry smacked down by smugly delivered liberal pieties.
Perhaps because LGSM's effort to help win the strike actually failed (the miners conceded after about a year), the film provides very few details about the strike's goals, strategies, or progress. Instead, we get made-for-Hollywood interactions between salt-of-the-earth townspeople and gay city slickers, like a scene in the union hall where a woman starts singing a beautiful rendition of "Bread and Roses" and all the other women slowly join in as the onlookers get teary-eyed, or the one where LGSM, about to be relegated to the rear of London's Gay Pride parade, is put in the lead instead when scores of miners and their wives show up, just in the nick of time, to join them.
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