‘Scorching irony’, The Trump Inauguration

For some time I’ve been thinking that the time, i.e. the last ten years or so, has been a good time for the return of Spitting Image. For those of you who don’t know, Spitting Image was a sociopolitical satirical comedy that ran on British TV from 1984-1992 in which foam latex puppets created by Peter Luck and Roger Flaw caricaturised notable figures in politics, entertainment and sport.

The 1980s saw Thatcher as the longest reigning British prime minister, Reagan as US president, and Gorbachev as Russian president. It also saw the start of the First Persian Gulf War and The Falklands War. The Olympic Games in Russia was boycotted by 60 countries, and hostages taken captive from the US embassy in Tehran were finally released after 444 days. There was an attempted shooting of Reagan, the Pope was shot, but survived, and Indira Gandhi and John Lennon were shot dead. Apartheid in South Africa had reached a peak and finally come under international criticism and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) responses, after decades of stonewalling by the US administrations. Israeli apartheid under Begin was still being developed with the support of Britain and the US,  resisted by the PLO which was headed by Arafat. During this time, Spitting Image presented a much-needed satirical perspective focused on these and other easily caricatured personalities.

African-American social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass is quoted as saying, ‘At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed’, and Spitting Image provided just that.

In the absence of Spitting Image, the following video by Bad Lip Reading is offered in that spirit.

As far as a comeback goes, when interviewed late last year, Roger Law said that he did not want to reboot the series in the UK but was tempted “because of Trump” by a recent approach from NBC who are interested in a remake. The Trump puppet, which doesn’t look as much like a caricature as a fairly realistic foam model, was on show with a retrospective of Law’s other works earlier this year.

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