Coostin’ 2016: June – Brexit

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CHRISTOPHER NIXON

Here at The Coost, we’re trying to live in the now, because now is pretty freaking exciting. At the conclusion of each month your coosts will fill you in on the stories that mattered to them. Some will be big, some will be small. Some will be global, some more local. Some will matter, some won’t. But they’re all us. They’re all coostin’. This is Coostin’ 2016…

It’s not every day we wake up and find that overnight our world has changed. But it certainly felt that way the morning of June 24 when in North America we began our Friday in disbelief at the official results of the Brexit referendum: In one of the biggest voter turnouts in recent memory the Leave campaign had actually won by a sliver. In capturing 52% of the vote they had now set the U.K. on a course to not only withdraw from the European Union, but to chart unknown and isolated waters for the first time since the second World War. We knew the vote was going to be close, but most people probably couldn’t grasp the prospect of the Leave side actually winning or what the plan would be if they did. Terrifyingly, it seems both those who campaigned for Brexit and many of those who voted for it feel the same way.

What made the results so alarming is that for the first time in a long while forces we thought had been tamed in the liberal west, or at least kept in check in our political discourse, had now won a tangible victory. Reactionary isolationism, anti-immigration rhetoric, and fear of diversity are no longer watchwords of a fringe minority but instead are front and centre in the polarized debate of how we construct our society’s values in the years to come amidst economic turmoil and tremendous political division – within and without our own borders. And if these powers can gain a foothold in the UK, what’s to stop it from happening at home?

Many Leave voters only began to understand the full consequences of their actions once it was too late. Image courtesy http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Many Leave voters only began to understand the full consequences of their actions once it was too late. Image courtesy http://www.dailymail.co.uk

So whether Brexit feels like the first domino in a backslide from the multicultural values of modernity or a pendulum in an eternal swing between liberal and conservative power shifts, its influence will go deeper than just policy making and economic repercussion. These kinds of seismic shifts unquestionably affect our world view and it’s only natural to see that reflected in the culture we consume, be that film, television, music, or meme.  

Just as the unbounded optimism of the hippie movement informed the pop culture of the 1960s, so did the looming spectre of Vietnam cast its pall over the entire 1970s. The great epics like Lawrence of Arabia and The Sound of Music gave way to The French Connection and The Deer Hunter. Gilligan’s Island to All in the Family. The Beatles to The Clash. The youthful and happy spirit of one decade became the grimy cynicism of the next. It may be too early to say whether a sea change like that is in the offing, but there’s no question the rifts that have been dividing our society for years can no longer be contained in the the shadows and it’s not a stretch to imagine our future art to be suffused with this spirit of division. But all things being equal, I’d take a world of happy-go-lucky musicals any old day.

 

nixon
Christopher Nixon is a part-time writer and full-time human who spends most of his day wondering how he got here.

 

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