You may or may not have heard of the new must-see thing on the art circuit in England. It’s called Dismaland and it’s been put on by the graffiti artist Banksy. Shortly after I’d arrived back in the UK from my summer holidays, I saw a piece on the news about this new extravaganza.
It looked interesting, so my Storytelling Friend and I decided to go. We’re a bit random so we didn’t do anything like look into whether or not we ought to buy tickets first, or what time it opened, or anything as sensible as that. Rather, we decided to leave as early as we could manage, which, at 8.30am on a Saturday is no mean feat, packed some sandwiches, boiled eggs, and cookies, and set off to Weston super Mare.
Now, first things first. There are certain places, towns, cities, what have yous, in the UK that are frowned upon for being grim. These places are often the sorts of places I find interesting because they host unusual events. See: Blackpool, and the annual Royal Pigeon Racing Association’s annual conference. These towns have lost most if not all of their industry and are quite down on their luck. When I visited Blackpool with some friends, for the pigeon conference, we couldn’t even find a Wetherspoon’s and had to settle for the even lower market Yates chain pub. Which, in Canadian terms is like being unable to find a Tim’s and having to settle for Dunkin’.
Anyhow, so off we went to Weston and after queuing for three hours (which under normal circumstances would’ve made me outraged and apoplectic, but my Storytelling Friend is quite good company and full of, obviously, stories) we finally gained entrance.
It was delightful! It was run down, brazenly broke most if not all health and safety rules (which in Britain is so beyond comprehension as to be unbelievable… sort of like if it didn’t rain here for an entire month and was just sunny and warm). It was interesting art, very political in the way Banksy always is. It was social commentary and also an amusement park.
You may remember the horesemeat scandal in the UK, wherein lots of readymade meals from big supermarkets were found to have not beef but rather horse meat in them? Yes, well on the carousel with all the nice horses to ride, was a statue of a man who looked like he worked in an abattoir, sat upon a box of frozen lasagnes. There was a big Cinderella piece, where Cinderella’s carriage had overturned and in death she was still being hounded by the paparazzi, like Lady Di.
I so wished The Mom could’ve seen it. She would’ve delighted in its dark humour, though I think after a while it may have all been a bit much for her, but for me it was brilliant because it was such an accurate representation of our world today, which is also why I spend a lot of time not sleeping and scratching my face when I do fall asleep. The world is grim and dark and it was nice to see the curtains pulled back.
What made it really great though was that it was funny. And fun. Hipster parents, all beards and tattoos, posed their unknowing children in front of sunken riot vans in pools of apocalyptic sludge, or told them to go and pawn a tooth at the payday loans shop – just for kids! I can only imagine that some of these pictures will be made into Christmas cards.
It’s not that I dislike Disney, which is what I can hear the Mom decrying in the back of my head. Reminding me of how much fun I had when we went to Disneyland as children and were in awe of everything about it. I still cherish that memory. I know I loved it and I was eight and that’s only right. Because I was a kid and I didn’t know the world was so horrible. But I can’t help but look upon the magic kingdom now and see commercialism run amok, princess fantasies being deeper ingrained and further perpetuated. Disneyland isn’t as innocent as it once was I don’t think. And that’s a shame.
I remember the picture of my siblings and me with Goofy at Disneyland. Crazy D and L’il Sis are wrapped in Goofy’s arms and I’m stood off to one side, sort of holding on to his arm, but not looking very keen on touching him. Maybe there was a hint of the cynic in me even then. Or possibly it was just that I didn’t like the idea of people touching me. Either way. I’ve been to both, and both were really great days out.