Two Nations Under God: Thoughts on the 2020 U.S. Election

A. J. Black reflects on the recent victory of Joe Biden, America in politics and culture, and where we go from here…

One thing that became clear in the run up to the 2020 Presidential election in the United States was that this particular battle was not just about America. It was about the entire world.

You will often hear from the more extremist or conservative Americans, upon any point of criticism regarding their politics, that if you’re not from America, you have no business commenting on the politics of the country. I’m not sure that’s ever been true. If Americans don’t comment on British or French or German elections, it’s more likely they simply aren’t paying any attention to European matters. It doesn’t work that way for us, in the U.K. at least, and in the matter of Joe Biden vs Donald Trump, it hasn’t been the case for the majority of a planet who otherwise, in any other electoral race, might only have paid a modicum of attention.

This one? We’ve all been watching.

The reason is obvious. Donald Trump has presided over perhaps the most tumultuous period of American history, and the most fractured and polarising government, in decades, if not since the 19th century. Was it this bad at the end of a protest-filled 1960s, having suffered presidential assassinations, dubious wars, and the murder of civil rights totems? Those alive at the time are the best people to attest to that. In my lifetime, the last almost forty years, America has never been so inflamed, outraged, horrified and terrified, not even in the wake of 9/11. That was my generation’s Kennedy assassination – the seismic psychological and political shock to global society, but we’ve never seen anything like Trump in the White House.

Now he’s going. For all his protestations, he will be gone. And I’m doing a great deal of thinking, about the recent past and the coming future…

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Blu-Ray Review: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992)

Andrew Davis, director of The Fugitive most notably, was the original choice to helm Universal Soldier but was replaced by Roland Emmerich, in his first Hollywood picture alongside co-writer Dean Devlin, and you sense had Davis helmed what stands as a textbook example of the high concept 90’s action thriller, it might have ended up a very different film.

Emmerich, who has made some terrific pieces of popcorn entertainment over the years—among his best arguably Independence Day and Stargate—is not exactly the most subtle of auteurs and that is evidenced as early as Universal Soldier, after he and Devlin originally were slated by super-producer Mario Kassar to make a science-fiction film called Isobar (eventually shelved). Universal Soldier isn’t the most exuberant film Emmerich has made to date but it could well be the silliest, the most empty-headed, and is without doubt the most homoerotic, and given Emmerich is known as a modern day Irwin Allen making crowd-pleasing, world landmark trashing, CGI-fuelled epics, that is quite the statement. It was always going to be this way when you throw in, as your leads, the double sucker punch of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren.

Truthfully, Universal Soldier is not a film that is ageing particularly well but with a beer in one hand and a pizza in the other, you would be hard pressed not to find some enjoyment in the hammy theatrics and ridiculous action set-pieces.

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