What Peter Rabbit Can Tell Us About Millennial Protest Movements

We will not challenge our problems through online petitions and Twitter outbursts
The Accused Bunnies.
The Accused Bunnies.

The new Peter Rabbit film contains a scene in which a man allergic to fruit is pelted with berries by a gang of rabbits.

I will admit that this act of depravity did not, exactly, jolt me out of bed on Monday morning to feverishly add my name to a petition established to protest against that which could offend those with allergies. Why? To be frank, because this issue felt insignificant, laughable even, when compared to others. But also because of the protest itself - what is there about an online petition that awakens the senses, arouses our anger, and calls us to action? It is merely another part of the virtual world we are immersed in - about as revolutionary as the Lad Bible.

The problems that the millennial generation face are as great, if not greater, than those faced by those that came before us. A world ruled by the despotic, the mad, and the stupid. Growing economic inequality, rampant poverty, the privatisation of our public services, endless debt, and obviously the fearsome bunnies of Beatrix Potter. In fact, the problems seem so extensive, so unfair and so grossly out of our control, it’s almost strange that we haven’t followed our instincts, grabbed any object to hand and chucked them through the windows of anyone wearing a Saville row suit and driving a Lexus, in the vain hope that such lunacy might awaken them to the fact that we’re being bounced between a rock and a hard place and charged £9,250 for the pleasure.

At least, you could say, the petition worked. Sony apologised for the scene, it won’t happen again, we did it.

If only Donald Trump was a bunny armed with a slingshot not several thousand nuclear weapons.

We are not the only generation to have faced problems, of course not.

But take it back thirty years and we would be standing around wearing leathers and studs, shocking society – and changing it. “God Save May/she ain’t no human being” doesn’t have the same ring to it, granted. But at least we would have stood up and said, with fashion and writing and music and art, that we would not stand for the unemployment, racism and general discontent infecting Thatcher’s Britain. Take it back fifty, and we would have said no to Vietnam with flowers and guitars and hallucinogens.

And yes, over the years, leathers and flowers were swapped for shirts and ties, drugs for teabags, and altruistic ideals for the five year plan and the pay packet and the getting the kids into a good school, sod the world’s problems, and our parents and grandparents stand where once stood the punks and the hippies.

But at least, when faced with challenge, before dreams were swapped for the 9-5 and anything was possible, they tried, created movements that were of resounding significance and relevance, and, in many cases, successful in overthrowing the injustices of their time.

At best, in 2018, some of us manage to emerge from media tinged stupor long enough to add our names to a list. We then sink back into the comforting sight of some random dog doing some kind of trick or whatever, and that’s that.

The problems we face will not be solved by ignoring them, hiding our heads in the sand and focusing on things that are, quite frankly, of no consequence, such as berry assault in a children’s film, in some subconscious attempt to escape the issues that we know are there and coming for us. We will not challenge our problems through online petitions and twitter outbursts.

Only by awakening ourselves, and others, through music, art, and literature will we create movements able to take on the issues of our time, sure in the righteousness of our cause and the effectiveness of our action.


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