This Summer has seen the most subversive cultural attack on Australian values and common-sense to hit our cinema screens for many years. The story of an asylum seeker who stows away on a boat then insinuates himself into the host society, it demonises Australians and undermines global efforts to combat terrorism.
I refer, of course, to Paddington, which shows a talking Peruvian ‘bear’ leaving his devastated forest home – in a gratuitous side-swipe at the logging industry – then evading detection on arrival in London. Instead of being properly processed and transferred offshore to a detention centre, he joins a sleeper cell led by a thinly disguised member of the British nobility, Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey.
The deviant aristo is passed off as a commoner – ‘Henry Brown’ – and his wife portrayed by actor Sally Hawkins, a known associate of left-wing director Mike Leigh. Grantham/Henry conspires with a young associate, presented as his ‘son’, Jonathan, who is a talented engineer. As the film ends, the pair are shown experimenting with an incendiary rocket, the target-rich London cityscape extending below their top-floor window.
Along the way, the film condones excessive alcohol consumption, as an honest security guard is corrupted into neglecting his duties in favour of a bottle of rum. And the only Australian, Nicole Kidman, plays – you’ve guessed it – the villain of the piece. In reality, hers is the only character with any due sense of discipline and security, who merely wishes to return ‘Paddington’, the illegal boat arrival, to his proper place at the back of the queue. The depiction of the asylum detention centre over which she presides as a collection of stuffed animals is an outrageous exaggeration of the facts.
At one point, cinema audiences are directly corrupted as the ‘Brown’ cell are shown concocting a home made explosive, codenamed ‘marmalade’, in their kitchen. We can only hope that impressionable young viewers do not attend too closely to the method and chemical components all too clearly portrayed on screen.
How, you may wonder, does a character who clearly resembles a brown bear not attract more attention from passers-by in a modern city? The film ends with a paean to deluded socialist dreams of multi-culturalism. In a message to his handler (codenamed ‘Aunt Lucy’) the Paddington figure quotes ‘Mrs Brown’ as saying that “everyone is different, so anyone can fit in”, thus condoning the failure by immigrant communities to assimilate to the host culture and its values.
No doubt the film will be defended by the usual suspects among the latte-sipping metropolitan elite. But we should remember the Young Liberals’ motto: just because you think you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean everyone is not trying to get you.
* As told to Jake Lynch.