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Video clips: United Kingdom: TV Nation
With comments by C. Farrell
Michael Moore's TV Nation: Caning (9 minutes)
Time for some light relief ...
In 1994 Michael Moore, nowadays famous for big political films, visited Britain for his series TV Nation, which was shown in the UK itself as well as, presumably, in the USA. Much of it consisted of Moore making gentle fun of the British and their peculiarities, in his trademark faux-naif style.
This particular extract is all about caning. The punishment of Michael Fay in Singapore (May 1994) is mentioned as a recent event, and the programme dates from later that year.
When he visits "Dai" Llewellyn the match is much more evenly balanced, and they have an uproarious time. It is hard to know whether Moore or the old-Etonian Llewellyn has his tongue further into his cheek. Dai Llewellyn is an upper-crust playboy, epicure and wit (he has subsequently become Sir David Llewellyn, Bart) who, on a whim and purely for fun, had bought up the defunct Bognor Cane Company, former supplier of punishment implements to schools.
Spatchcocked into the film are a brief TV news clip of Michael Fay emerging from court in Singapore, and part of the caning scene from the 1971 BBC dramatisation of Tom Brown's Schooldays.
Finally there are scenes filmed in a London nightclub called School Dinners, which has managed to create a unique niche market out of nostalgics for corporal punishment and terrible food. Its patrons volunteer (especially, no doubt, after they have had a little too much to drink) to be "caned" by gorgeous, pouting young ladies dressed up as St Trinians-style schoolgirls. It is clearly all harmless fun. Moore contrives to make it all look a bit tacky, and he perhaps misses, or affects to miss, the heavy dose of British irony underpinning the whole enterprise. Never mind: every time I watch this film, he makes me laugh out loud.
HERE IS THE CLIP:
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