While flipping channels last night I had one of those curious 'did I see that right'? moments, flying through the long Freeview hinterland between where BBC4 ends and E4 begins. I went back a couple of stops and realised that, yes, I had seen that right. Sky Three were indeed showing a programme titled 'BNP Wives'. Incidentally, the last time I was so arrested by an intriguing title was Sky Three again, with 'Darts Players Wives'. This seems to indicate both a certain theme to that channel's output and a weird equivalence in the station controllers' minds between Darts Players and Far-Right Nationalism.
I only managed to catch the last 10 minutes of the show, which would not ordinarily be considered sufficient grounds for review, but based solely on what was contained in those minutes I think it's fair to say this may have been one of the most fascinating films ever to appear on British Television. As I tuned in events were already in full swing, with a series of scenes filmed at some bizarre BNP countryside fair. Fat-necked skin-headed men sat around in folding deckchairs, their demented tattoos of Germanic knights on proud display, watching some wholesome BNP-approved entertainment. This seemed to consist of a teenage boy singing Sinatra and a dumpy middle-aged woman reading hilariously, spectacularly bad poetry about her adulterous husband. Apparently her work was too awful even for the fat-necked tattoomen as they all left, and she finished her reading to an empty stage. The whole scene was utterly surreal, like watching a Village Fete run by Vogons.
It turned out that the betrayed fascist poetess was one of the Wives of the programme's title, three women involved in the BNP in various ways who were followed around for some time by the documentary-makers and given every possible opportunity to show themselves to be amongst the worst and stupidest human beings ever to drag down the grade curve of this green and pleasant land.
During one segment, the poet woman - who I think was in fact a BNP councillor - tried to evade questioning on the admittedly subtle and complicated question of whether Britain should in fact have gone to war against FUCKING HITLER. "To be honest, I've never really thought about it", she said, before starting a sentence that began "I don't agree with everything Hitler stood for, but..."
I don't think we really need to finish that thought, do we? Has any sentence worth hearing ever started out "I don't agree with everything Hitler stood for, but..."? I tried to write a few, just for the purposes of Comedy and honestly, it's almost impossible.
- "I don't agree with everything Hitler stood for, but... it's raining"?
- "I don't agree with everything Hitler stood for, but... I quite want a sandwich"?
- "I don't agree with everything Hitler stood for, but... I'm a MASSIVE IDIOT NAZI WHO WRITES TERRIBLE POEMS"?
Watching this programme was, of course, depressing in its way. But mostly it was just astonishing. To see these people going about their days, living in their seedy and depressing bubbles of hatred and idiocy, and thinking through it all that they are the normal ones. I honestly think these people fail to understand an important simple fact, so I'm going to state it here as clearly as I possibly can.
We - and I'm going to speak here for the overwhelming majority of people in this country who are, you know, NOT NAZIS - despise your ideas. We despise them. It's not that we are afraid of them, or that we don't understand them, or are 'not ready to hear them'. We understand them fully, we understand their roots and their implications, and we despise and utterly reject them anyway. The reason we understand all this is because a) we are so very, very much cleverer than you, and b) unlike you, we have actually thought about this.
The overwhelming ignorance that these people kept falling back on when pressed on any significant point was actually, in the end, oddly hopeful. It seemed to confirm something I dare to dream in my more optimistic moments: that most of what we call evil - this kind of low-grade goose-stepping flag-waving/flag-burning variety of evil, anyway - is just ignorance, at its core. And whilst 'evil' can seem mysterious and unstoppable, ignorance can be defeated relatively easily; by, oh I don't know, reading a book once in your entire fucking life. For example.
BNP Wives - the documentary, last 10 minutes thereof: 7/10
BNP Wives - the actual human beings portrayed therein: 0.4/10