When Reality Imitates Fantasy: Dominic Cummings and Gríma Wormtongueat
I have never been able to understand those that hold works of fantasy and fiction in contempt. All my life I have been convinced that the greatest characters in fiction are to be found everywhere in life. Characters of the imagination are simply archetypes of people that we all know, in some form or another. The most spectacular recent ‘dead ringer’ who constantly pops up in the news is Dominic Cummings – the so-called political strategist, currently serving as chief special adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Not only does dear old Dom look exactly like Gríma Wormtongue from the Lord of the Rings, but he operates like him and the nature of his working relationship to the bumbling Prime Minister elegantly duplicates Wormtongue’s relationship with King Theoden of Rohan. The similarities are stunning. Even more astonishing is the fact that Grima is also having his strings pulled by another force of power, not Putin the Red but Saruman the White, or Saruman of many colours, as he liked to be known. The similarities are spectacular. If you haven’t read Lord of the Rings, or seen the film, do so now, I am convinced that Cummings has styled himself on Gríma to simply brilliant effect. Well done Dom.
The dramas and real tragedies we are witnessing now have taken on all the horror of a compelling children’s book. Somewhere in the distance all the people and animals in the forest are being swept away on a tide of water and the force of wind thrown at our world by Nature, Nature, the beautiful spirit that has simply had enough of us all, and our idiotic, destructive ways. Meanwhile the King and his cronies lie under the bedclothes snoring and farting and pretending that nothing has happened. From time to time his knights protest, but all he really wants to do is stuff his face like Billy Bunter and sit at his great oval table and hear the voices of his sycophantic toadies squawk “Yes, yes, great King. You are right. You are powerful. We bow down to you, and do as you tell us.” Well done Dom and well done King Theoden (aka Billy Bunter) and well done J.R.R. Tolkien, although Wikipedia tells me that even Wormtongue is based on another ancient character – Unferth from Beowulf. Personally, I am inclined to think he is just another archetype, somebody we all know, and Uriah Heep belongs in this category… and that said… go and see Armando Iannucci’s “The Person History of David Copperfield” it reminds me that we are all archetypes, all cartoon characters, and hopefully even the bad ones eventually get their comeuppance, even if it takes a bit of time.
On the subject of cartoon characters… Martin Scorsese has it wrong when he says Marvel films are formulaic and ‘aren’t cinema’. Marvel films are just jammed full of splendid stories and wonderful characters, from Rocket Raccoon to Gamora and I for one would far rather sit through Avengers Endgame than live for three hours with The Irishman, which is also about violence, but violence of a more unpleasant and realistic kind. But then, it takes all sorts. I have loved Marvel all my life and I fear I am not very highbrow. Hey ho!