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January 11, 2012

Streep-Thatcher: Beyond the Brooch

Margaret Thatcher is back on the front page. Her cheekbones are a little bit higher, perhaps her eyes are little bit brighter or her brow a little bit softer, but the resemblance is uncanny. It’s the second-coming of a glamorous neo-liberal savior you’ve always dreamed of.

In this case, the fawning over semblance represents a strange fetishisation of the political actor into the acted object. It is not clear from this cover, however, if Streep-Thatcher is more about Thatcher or about Streep. Is the premiere of “The Iron Lady” the news? or is Thatcher becoming “more important than ever” the news?

At a time when Britain faces a resurgence of neo-liberal policies and tactics, the nostalgic Thatcher object is a fantastic way to de-politicise the political. Over the past year, here in the UK, we’ve seen riots, a massive rise in unemployment and a prime minister taking an increasingly isolationist stance against Europe. It does all feel a bit Thatcher-era. If this should be a cause for critique of the history and legacy of Thatcherism, however, the drive towards the celebrity image, and the ability of the celebrity to obscure the political image, is a generator of apathy. If this should be cause for deep analysis of the current political system and ideologies, instead we luxuriate in the perfect lilt of Thatcher-Streep’s Margaret smile and the vintage accuracy of her brooch and earrings.

Here, front page news is replaced by a doppelganger: celebrity news.

— Madeleine Corcoran

(cover photo: Newsweek, December 16, 2011. juxtaposition via Daily Mail)

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