‘The aliens are here’: how movies shape Dominic Cummings’ vision

There are three ways to look at Dominic Cummings’ explosive appearance at yesterday’s joint session of the Commons health and science and technology committees. The first is that we witnessed a brave whistleblower speaking truth to power about a wave of horrifically preventable deaths. The second is that Cummings was spitefully acting out, rewriting history in order to further a handful of personal grievances. And the third is to notice that he referenced quite a lot of films, and to just concentrate on that instead. Hoy dia, we will be doing the third.

It should surprise nobody that Cummings is a fount of pop culture references. Durante la pandemia, the entire Conservative government has fallen back on cinema in an attempt to find a way through, from Matt Hancock’s revelation that the film Contagion helped to inform his vaccination strategy, to Boris Johnson’s admission that his movie idol is the crap mayor from Jaws.

Aún así, Cummings proved himself to be the pop culture motherlode. The cornerstones of his references were the 1996 película Independence Day and a meme taken from episode 19b of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. The former was used as an example of the government’s chaotic response to Covid last March, with Cummings saying it was “like a scene from Independence Day, with Jeff Goldblum saying, ‘The aliens are here and your whole plan is broken and you need a new plan.’” The latter was used to illustrate the lack of accountability at the heart of government. “You know that Spider-Man meme, both the Spider-Mans pointing at each other?" él dijo. “It’s like that but with everybodyall the different Spider-Mans are pointing at each other saying, ‘You’re responsible.’”

But what does it mean? What does this tell us about Cummings? Esencialmente, it suggests that he’s an unrepentant populist. This isn’t exactly a surprise, given that he once attempted to deflect a difficult line of questioning by reciting the lyrics to the PJ Masks theme tune. sin embargo, he chose some huge targets yesterday. On its release, por ejemplo, Independence Day became the second-highest-grossing film of all time, while Spider-Man is one of the most iconic characters of the last century.

It could have all gone so differently. Imagine if Cummings had attempted to explain governmental negligence by citing, decir, The Wind That Shakes the Barley or Sokurov’s Russian Ark. It would have been a disaster. The references would have been lost on the majority of people, plus he would have outed himself as the type of aloof elitist that he railed against so bitterly during the Brexit vote. Y, perhaps most importantly, it would have been much harder to write funny tweets about those films.

Ojalá, this is just the start. Now that he has entrenched himself in his war against the government, it is only reasonable to expect Cummings to appear before more committees, where he can unload a volley of even more blockbuster movie references. Yesterday he made reference to clicking his fingers, which brought him tantalisingly close to explaining how the final act of Avengers: Guerra infinita influenced the government’s Covid response strategy. Perhaps he can be nudged further in that direction next time.

Or maybe he can describe himself as “the magic hair that the Na’vi plug into each other in Avatar", or Matt Hancock as Voldemort, or a breakthrough moment as “that bit in Batman v Superman where they both shout the word Martha at each other”. Now is the time for Cummings to watch as many big films as he can, to better arm himself with references. Después de todo, it isn’t as if he doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands.

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