HBO has made a movie about the man behind the Vote Leave campaign, Donald Cummings, and it’s caused a storm. Let’s just hope it’s balanced.
Brexit is a pretty precarious and sensitive subject at the minute in the UK. Not least because the country’s parliament is in a royal mess over what to do about it, while voices on either side of the argument are becoming more vociferous.
A new trailer for Brexit released yesterday by HBO, then – a movie about Dominic Cummings, the main strategist behind the Vote Leave campaign – has understandably caused quite a stir on Twitter.
A Vote Leave bus is pictured outside the Parliament in London on December 5, 2018. Ahead of Prime Minister's Questions at noon, the government published its Brexit legal advice - a move...
Some are outraged at the timing, while others are outraged at the very thought of a film on Cummings, all for differing but no-less partisan reasons.
The timing is arguably inflammatory. Then again, it’s arguably extremely clever. If I’m honest, I tend to agree with the latter, although the former is certainly not something I’d disagree with. But let’s look at it from the HBO point of view – the film comes out next month, on the 19th to be exact, right in the prime-time region for all things Brexit and just two months away from the Article 50 deadline.
As such, the film will get eyes, which is exactly what HBO wants – particularly in a world where it is facing stuff stiff competition from Netflix, Prime and the like. That it will get eyes is one thing but there does need to be a sense of balance in this film given the timing.
Now I’m sure that Cummings, if only by virtue of working in political strategy, has some fairly Machiavellian traits. But hey, don’t we all? It’s less in its portrayal of Cummings and more in its portrayal of who voted where that I hope the film doesn’t stray into a disquieting undertone.
The trailer showed some worrying, stereotype heavy aspects, particularly of a meeting with an older working-class couple in London that could point to a narrative point that may stray into some areas where the film should tread carefully. To cast all leave voters as older and more impoverished, as easily manipulated by the smart and cunning Cummings et al, will be to throw fuel on a fire that really could do with some tempering.
I’ve no doubt that the film will be a good watch either way. Let’s just hope it doesn’t lean too far either way as there’s enough division over Brexit right now.