Meryl Streep continues her streak as the most nominated performer in academy history. Monday’s nomination for her role as Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom’s first female British prime minister, in “The Iron Lady” was her 17th nomination. She’s widely considered to be the greatest living actress. And from speech patterns to mannerism to posture, Streep’s impersonation of Thatcher was flawless.
But some critics argue that the filmmakers presented Thatcher more as a “grocer’s daughter from Grantham” and less as a prime minister who left thousands hungry when she decided decided nuclear power was a better energy source than unionized coalfields. The film also ignored the families in Toxteth (inner city Liverpool) and Brixton (a largely black neighborhood in London) whom Thatcher agreed were living in a “concentration of hopelessness” that was “very largely self-inflicted” and not worth government repair, explains British-American journalist Laura Flanders in “The Nation.”
“The Iron Lady” is “the last thing we need, ever, and especially at this point,” Flanders, who hosts GRITtv, went on to say.
In an opinion piece for the The Nation, Flander’s explains why she believes “The Iron Lady” is the “Margaret Thatcher movie we don’t need.”
Think of Thatcher and I think of the hungry people who started showing up in villages in Yorkshire and Scotland and Wales where work was scarce because Thatcher’s experts decided nuclear power was a better energy source than unionized coalfields. Miners went on strike – for a year. Their wives and children collected soup-kitchen money from their churches and their neighbors and when they ran out, they went down to London where they tried to tell their story of helmeted horsemen charging the ranks of union strikers and police bashing men’s heads in. But Londoners didn’t believe them. They’d heard the miners were greedy and dangerous and a threat to their jobs. After all, “trade union power is the true cause of unemployment,” said Thatcher. The 1984 strike by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) gets a couple of seconds on screen in Lloyd’s film, but there’s no explanation, no follow-up and no consideration: does anyone wish now that they’d listened to the miners then?
“There is no such thing as society. Only individuals.” Thatcher also said. With more spending by successive Thatcher governments on police (so-called “law and order”) and less on just about everything else, “no society” became true soon enough. The Iron Lady shows Prime Minister Thatcher overruling her “wet” male colleagues over waging war with Argentina. A few hundred far-off Falkland Islanders were worth fighting for, she famously decided. A take-control feminist? The film ignores the families in Toxteth (inner city Liverpool) and Brixton (a largely black neighborhood in London) whom Thatcher found it quite acceptable to sacrifice. Cabinet papers released by the National Archives just now under a 30-year rule reveal Thatcher’s closest advisers told her that the “concentration of hopelessness” on Merseyside was “very largely self-inflicted” and not worth government repair.
Flanders goes on to say depiction of draconian cuts as feminist guts in the “The Iron Lady” is “chilling.”
“What Thatcher called “harsh medicine” meant one thing for the poor and another for the very powerful then, and it still does. In both instances, there is hell to pay in social fabric.”