Bend It Like Beckham
Tradition takes on New Europe – and loses – in Bend it Like Beckham
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Written by Paul Mayeda Berges and Guljit Bindra
Starring Parminder K. Nagra and Keira Knightley
One hundred minutes into Bend It Like Beckham, a Sikh female footballer
french-kisses her Irish coach while her homosexual best friend and her sari-robed
mother look on. Then Manchester United star David Beckham walks on with his girlfriend
Victoria, nee Posh Spice. The Euro-pop swells. Meanwhile, in Brussels, EU HQ,
another little bulb lights up on a large wall map of the Continent – one light
for each ticket sold, for each new addition to the euroblender.
Jessie (really Jesminder) is a girl from a traditional immigrant family. Her mother
wants her to learn to cook aloo gobi, she wants to kick a round ball around a
plot of grass. But not only that, she wants to kiss white boys (but no more than
kiss), she wants to go clubbing, wants to get drunk, wants to be, well, normal
– tradition be damned. After all, what is the infinite love of Ganesha when compared
to pop stars and facial glitter? Soon the euro-femmes travel to Hamburg to play
their first foreign match. Here, Jessie plays hard: she out-dribbles her opponents
and out-dances a teammate, though only after the requisite make-over scene during
which Jessie’s hair gets Anglified.
Post-9/11 accusations have been leveled at the American film industry for toeing
the government line. But at least Bruckheimer films are entertaining; there’s
bang for your buck. The EU propaganda of recent years, of which Bend It
is a prime example, is sentimental tripe of the worst kind.
If cross-cultural understanding and empathy and assimilation lead to bland bullshit
like this, then for the sake of our children and our children’s children, we’d
better break out the old armbands and boots. At least in pre-war Europe where
everyone hated each other they knew what’s what – haven’t you seen their art?
Fuck the eurocrats. Fuck the euroblender. Fuck their common currency. And fuck
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