The Great Debate... One Of Them Anyway
05 March 2009
We watched the Sean Penn Oscar-winning flic Milk a few weeks ago, with a fairly sizeable Polish audience in attendance. Poland not being the most permissive society on the planet, it was interesting to see that a) they were showing film in the first place and b) a lot of people were interested in seeing it.
However, an hour into the film there turned up that surprise element which was even more pertinent to the Polish way of life.
While the audience had quite happily sat through the scenes of men smooching and other moments of general homosexual cavorting, as soon as Sean Penn's character dared to suggest that dog owners ought to pick after their pets, there were howls of outrage and several people stormed out of the cinema. By the time we left there had been an impromptu demonstration organised outside the mall, with people holding banners reading Let Them Shit Where They Want and A Dog's Gotta Do What A Dog's Gotta Do and If It's Brown, It's Organic. Off to the side, Sean Penn was being burned in effigy. (Although this may have been by someone who'd just watched an old copy of Shanghai Surprise.) The counter-demonstration - a solitary man holding up a banner saying, It's Not The Dogs, It's The Owners - was quickly broken up and the man handed over to the CIA for immediate waterboarding.
There's a scene in one of the Dirty Harry movies when Clint comes across some young punks in a lift. Clint says something along the lines of: Listen, punk, to me you ain't nothing but dog shit. And a lot of things can happen to dog shit. It can be scraped up with a shovel, it can dry up and blow away in the wind, or it can get stepped on and squashed...
In the Polish version this speech became: Listen punk, to me you ain't nothing but dog shit. And a lot of things can happen to dog shit. It can get stepped on and squashed. And then someone else will come along and step on it. And then the first guy will forget it's there and he'll step on it again.
The streets of Warsaw are a faecal minefield. This city is where the phrase Watch You Step was first used. Pedestrians beware.