Saturday, 6 February 2016

Zoolander (4 Stars)

"I'm pretty sure there's more to life than being really, really good looking".

The fashion industry is so shallow that it's difficult not to make fun of it. Sacha Baron Cohen did it in "Bruno" (2009). But before then Ben Stiller did it just as effectively in "Zoolander" (2001).

Ben Stiller stars as Derek Zoolander, a man who has been named the Male Model of the Year four years in a row. When he fails to win the award the next year, the prize going to his rival Hansel (Owen Wilson), his world falls apart. He's vulnerable to attacks from people who want to exploit him. The fashion company executive Jacob Moogberg (Will Ferrell), better known as Mugatu, hires him to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia, who wants to abolish child labour in his country. Without child labour Mugatu's clothes can't be manufactured as cheaply and his profits will fall.

The film features cameos from a multitude of celebrities appearing as themselves. One of them is David Bowie. Rest in peace.

Another is Donald Trump, who is now campaigning to become the American president. He has gained a lot of support by populist rhetoric, aided by the current fear of terrorism by Islamic extremists. He over-generalises when he judges people, as all populists do. He also polarises opinions sharply. People love him or they hate him, there's no middle ground. Recently one of my oldest friends unfriended me on Facebook because I called Donald Trump stupid. Maybe I was wrong to use that word, I'm sure he's a highly educated man, but he has many viewpoints which I consider to be stupid. For instance, he says that in order to protect America from terror attacks no Moslems should be allowed to enter the country. Judging everyone who carries the label "Moslem" is an act of bigotry. Not all Moslems are terrorists, and more importantly, not all Moslems are Moslems. What I mean by that is that Islam is part of the racial identity of many people, for instance Pakistanis. I have many Pakistani friends who don't read the Koran or visit a mosque. They have no interest in religion at all, but they carry on calling themselves Moslems because it's what they think is expected of them. This is in contrast to British people in England who have no problem in saying they aren't Christians. Donald Trump doesn't understand this.

I first watched "Zoolander" with my friend Tamara, and I'll always associate the film with her. We were lying entwined on her sofa watching the film, but like a good film fan I didn't let myself get too distracted. We've known each other for nine years. I've always liked her, but she's temperamental and frequently turns against me, later forgetting what she was angry about. I'd do anything for her if she needed me. We still talk occasionally, but we're not as close as we used to be. I don't know if she reads my blog. In case she does, she should leave a comment on this post to tell me what she thinks of me.

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