The Queen and the fictional Paddington image of Britain

It’s as if some spontaneous folklore is suddenly beginning to blossom, as the late Elizabeth II and the talking bear cosmic united.

On that day, news broke of the existence of the Royal Gardens in London People are being asked to stop leaving marmalade sandwiches As a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II. I have to admit I didn’t expect this to come. From an anthropological perspective, the British mind is a fascinating thing.

The ad is worded very bland – like suggestion that while leaving flowers was still appropriate, there were probably quite a few marmalade sandwiches piling up around St. James. But my mind couldn’t help but turn to all that bread and preserved oranges, left in central London, damp and rotting in the rain. A great mountain of marmalade sandwiches, a vast ‘come and fetch me’ plea to the city’s many rats: gigantic ferrets fearlessly tear the clear plastic bags that say ‘later’ on them, while the country’s shocked royals try to muster up the courage to fight through them for a chance to grieve. .

It was a surprising aspect of the scene surrounding the Queen’s death – how much it seems to connect the public imagination with Paddington Bear (marmalade sandwiches are left alongside Paddington dolls, as they are the beloved children’s character’s favorite snack). Once the rumors of the Queen’s death were finally confirmed, From a photo I started doing the rounds on Facebook of the late King and one of her dogs holding Paddington’s hand, as they were led into the sunset with the caption “Eve” [sic] I did my homework Paddington, please take me to my husband. last night, I saw that someone had already got a copy of it as a tattoo, with the caption: “Okay, tea?”. It is as if some spontaneous folk tradition has suddenly begun to flourish, as the Queen and Paddington have united cosmically—as if he was mentioned long ago, in the traditions of our people, as her spiritual protector and guide.

But in fact, the Quinn Paddington connection is a rather new thing. The most compelling reason why people succeed, is that There was a TV cartoon released last year for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, in which she is pictured having tea with Paddington. Bear Ben Whishaw-voices inappropriately drank CGI from the pot, before offering Her Majesty a marmalade sandwich from his hat. Then it was revealed that she had one in her handbag. The Queen and Paddington began beating the rhythm of We Will Rock You over tea cups for a reason, and then thanked her for her years of service to the nation. Her general appearance was a bit strange and dreamlike, with the Queen in particular rendering her lines as if directed by David Lynch (in fairness to her, she was (a) not an actress, (b) good in her nineties, (c) having (to pretend a bear that you’ve probably never heard of was with her in the room).

People really seem to go that far. Officially, the drawing mirrored an earlier drawing, produced for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, Where the Queen met James Bond. In it, the Queen displayed similar virtues: obviously ‘possessing a good sense of humor’ – which seems to be the main qualification for being someone the British would like to continue to invest hereditary sovereign power in (good luck with Charles). But news of her death didn’t suddenly lead to a huge wave of fan art as the Queen was seen receiving her Bond in the afterlife. in time, Viewers were said to be “in awe” In the Paddington sketch, where social media users commented on things like “Everything you need to know about what it means to be British.” Broadcaster Michael Crick He suggested that the Queen should receive an Oscar after her death for its performance.

What were people seeing here? I don’t think it’s likely all in the same diagram. To understand why the Paddington scheme is so attractive to the British (or perhaps better: the British my kingImagination, one needs to understand something about Paddington Movies. (Films the BBC recently announced will be showing during the period of national mourning.)

The Paddington The films, which also feature Whishaw as the voice of CGI Bear (by the way, the voice actor in the Ukrainian dubbing is none other than Volodymyr Zelenskyy), were widely praised. In fact: There was a moment when Paddington 2 (2017) was briefly the best-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes, surpassing Citizen Ken (It has since lost its perfect rating After discovering a negative review). While it would be silly to assume that Paddington 2 It was actually the greatest movie ever made (it’s about 20 minutes long for a children’s movie; human performance often suffers from the same problem that the Queen did: the bear isn’t really in the room), and it’s certainly easy to see why it only received one negative review. The movie is sweet, hilarious, and imaginative: there’s a really cool scene, for example, in which Paddington is seen imagining what it would be like when he’s driving his Aunt Lucy through London in the pages of a pop-up book. It’s kind of magical – although when I watched it with my three-year-old son, he was only really interested in that one scene where Paddington flies over a canal by holding a swan (for the rest of the movie, he didn’t stop at the possibility of “goose” appearing, As he called the swan, about to reappear).

But what particularly amazes me, at least, about Paddington The movies, is the way London is portrayed. Paddington is set in what is kind of the present – but also not quite in the present. It lives in a version of Britain where there’s, like, hip-hop, the internet – but it’s still common to travel by steam train, and no one really bothers with smartphones.

Paddington (with his adoptive family, Al Brown) lives in a very nice area of ​​West London, in a tiered Georgian crescent: the kind of place where life no longer exists in the real world, because everyone who might want it lives there and has been priced from it; The kind of place where “residents”, like them, have spent several million on a one-bedroom apartment they can sometimes use when they’re not in New York or Dubai. However in PaddingtonIn our world, there is a real, lively community: everyone knows their neighbours, there is a newsstand whose owner has a parrot, there is a bustling market, and plenty of independent shops (Paddington, of course, arrived from “the darkest of Peru” – this is how it is sometimes referred to by fans of the film as” immigrant” or even “refugee”). At one point, I thought I’d seen the Brewdog logo, and I thought: Well, I guess it makes sense for a Brewdog to exist in the Paddington world. But if there really was a Brewdog in the world of Paddington, no one would ever go there: they would all drink in a whimsically decorated little corner pub, where an old dog roams, selling cheese–and–onion rolls wrapped in cellophane and where the owner knows everyone’s name .

In short: I think a lot of attractive Paddington The films are that they are set in a kind of a fictionalized version of Britain – Britain which, I guess we can say, capitalism does not impose itself as strongly as it does in reality. Britain in which we are allowed nice things; Where people are given the ability to live a life guided not by material reality, but by personal alienation. And this imagination, of course, is hardly limited to, or invented, Paddington The movies themselves. This idea of ​​Britain, this idea that Britain, and perhaps London in particular, is somehow fascinated, full of astonishment and possibility, is one that has always exercised a strong control over the national imagination: it is found everywhere in the world. Mary Poppins to me Great British Bread Tent to the Libertines.

And I really think that’s why people leave huge piles of marmalade sandwiches in honor of the Queen. The drawing of Queen Paddington has captured people’s imagination because people in this country want to believe in a fictional Paddington image of Britain, and also that the late Queen belonged there in some way. They realize, of course, that the country really isn’t: it’s probably mostly irreparable folly. They realize the fact that the Queen’s death is closed food banks, canceled NHS operations, and hastily scrapped social media posts making it clear that everyone at Heinz Beanz is so respectful and heartbroken (so please, for the love of God, keep buying beans). But they want to have the country used To be as it appears in Paddington Movies. And the Queen – they thought – was a conduit for that fictional version of the nation and the past.

Opinion

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