Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll be well aware Bristolian street artist Banksy recently unveiled his ‘bemusement park’ Dismaland on Weston-Super Mare’s seafront. It was a bit of a surprise to us all – albeit a welcome surprise because, seriously, who doesn’t love his witty socio-political daubings? Banksy is undoubtably everyone’s favourite art-activist and Dismaland is a fantastic exhibition filled to the brim with anarchy, socialism and sticking it to the man. It’s no secret that Dismaland takes cues from a certain Mouse-centric theme park, featuring Disney characters but not how you would normally see them. So to celebrate this triumph, we’ve curated a list of films that were the inspiration for Banksy’s Dismaland, plus some of our favourite films that feature sexism, political propaganda and pro-war attitudes which would have fitted well in his gloom-laden park.
10. The Hunger Games and The Lego Movie
An unlikely pair so be it, but these two recent blockbusters although on the surface are very different are one and the same. The Hunger Games saga are an obvious political upheaval story told through the life of Katniss Everdeen. They are brutal, hard going and brilliant. They detail the loss and the struggle that is inevitable when people fight for what is right. The Lego Movie is fun, utterly mad and spectacular and also features the story of over throwing the government for what is right. These two modern blockbusters teach us to stand up and fight for what we believe in, that if one person in charge is dictating, then that’s not okay. We can’t speak for Banksy but we can’t help but think he’d have loved these two.
8. Top Gun and Casablanca
Again, some very different films, but both shroud us with pro-war propaganda and were government backed because they believed it would increase rates of people joining up for military service. Casablanca shows America as a safe haven during the War and installs the image that if you joined up to fight in the war, being american would be some form of protection. It was released in desperate times none the less and thus comes the debate, whether or not it was morally right to lie to the viewers to get them to fight for their countries. Top Gun tries it’s hand at the same game. Top Gun makes being in the military cool and that’s their angle. Get your sunglasses on, get your blonde babe on the back of your bike, you’re off to fight for your country. You see the problem here? There would be no surprise if a few graffiti’d posters for these films appeared in Dismaland.
Now here’s a film that seems to split people right down the middle. On the one hand, people consider this film to be a classic – they can’t get enough of this flick all through their summer nights (couldn’t resist) but the message in this film is undeniably terrible. For so long Grease has been at the top and never seeming to come down from its podium with catchy songs that everyone knows. But this film is teaching us that you need to change everything about yourself to get the guy you love. We see innocent Sandy who, at the beginning of this film was completely comfortable in her own skin. She has to move, meets a bad boy who she falls for and a group of girls who practically bully her into believing that the way she is right now is all kind of wrong. And in the end, she sexes herself up to get the guy. WHAT?
Not a movie per say, but this documentary is something everyone really needs to see. This documentary is as eye-opening as it gets and makes you feel guilty for ever visiting or wanting to go to any Seaworld park, especially it’s main one in Orlando. There was an obvious feature in Dismaland that pointed out the dismal truth of what these Orca’s and other aquatic animals are being put through. This is not an easy watch but that is no excuse not to put yourself through it. Banksy is all about having the knowledge and knowing everything there is to know about what is going on in the world so there’s no time to hide from the cold hard truth.
5. Rear Window
A Hitchcock classic starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly that see’s through an interesting and different concept for the typical murder mystery. If you haven’t seen this film, it basically all takes place from a back room of Stewart’s apartment and he watches the people in the apartment block opposite, but all is not what it seems and he witnesses a murder. What’s not quite right about this film is the way he pursues the murderer. Although he speaks to his friend who happens to be in the police department to see what’s going on, that’s the only back up he recruits in terms of police.
He would much rather take the approach of spying on his neighbours with binoculars and put his girlfriend (Kelly) in danger by getting her to break into the murderers apartment. It has been suggested that this is a reference to surveillance schemes that are watching us all all the time with less and less police influence. This is something Banksy was very interested in. Dismaland features an exhibition dedicated to informing the public of all things surveillance, including a history of CCTV and timeline facts relating to the ever-updating surveillance systems.
4. Brokeback Mountain
We all know the story of Brokeback Mountain, two men in love but can’t admit it to themselves, or each other because of social expectations. The film is set in 1963 and focuses on a gay relationship between two young men. The time in which the film is set is one thing, at that time being gay was hushed down and hidden because it was highly frowned upon. But when it was released in 2006, this film caused major controversy, being pulled from cinema’s in america and being accused of ‘pushing the gay agenda on the public’ – 2006 seems like an age in which people would be less discriminative but apparently/disgustingly not. The film, plus the gay community still experience discrimination today. Banksy is a well known advocate for gay rights and supports the community having used his art to demonstrate it in the past. Brokeback Mountain is an important film both for what the story tells us about the attitude in 1963, and the attitude that surrounded the movie in 2006.
3. Boy’s Don’t Cry
Brandon Teena, a trans-man who is beaten, raped and murdered once it is found out that he is transgender. A hard watch but something you can’t disassociate yourself with because it’s a bit unpleasant. This goes on in the world and it’s something we should all be aware of and fighting to stop. An exhibit based around this film would sit perfectly in Dismaland if this park was based wholly on movies influence. Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox Has brought lots of media attention to this cause in recent years and we can’t help but think that Banksy would be fist pumping the air whenever Laverne gets up on those stages to tell us how it is.
2. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Jack Nicholson did some of his finest work in this hard going film about mental illness. This film has often been associated and dubbed representative of the oppression of the public. When people get a bit to rowdy, a bit hard to handle, they’re simply taken care of. This is an extremely Banksy kind of subject because if theres one thing he doesn’t like, it’s oppression. Dismaland features tons of fake propaganda posters and art that highlights the public being brainwashed by the government and by social normalities. It brings films like this to the forefront of your mind when you can link every character to certain aspects of everyday life. This film is about mentally ill men being taught what is the right way to think, and how they should act to fit in again, brainwashed by a group who think that because they are not suffering mental illness, they are better than those they are seemingly helping.
1. Women of DisneySo we come to this. It is no surprise that the women of Disney are at best, awful representations. However we still adore them and watch their movies and buy their merchandise because it’s Disney and it makes you feel fuzzy inside. It’s just what we’re supposed to do right? Banksy’s use of Cinderella wasn’t an obvious ploy to make you think about the sexism in Disney films, it was used to imitate the crash in which Princess Diana lost her life, to show that no one is safe from such a fate, not even princesses with their happily ever afters. And his use of the distorted Ariel was to make you think about your warped sense of reality because of what is drip fed to you through the media. And that happens to be sexism in movies. Little girls are brought up watching these films and told that being a Princess is the ultimate achievement for a girl, get to that and you’ll be exempt from all bad in the world. Well, Banksy brought the truth down hard, and it was brilliant.
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