When the cabinet is a rotating door and diplomacy is done via Twitter, Malcolm Tucker's legendary, NSFW tirades are no longer satire.
A bumbling British politician announces that war is “unforeseeable” in an interview while a secret war American war committee forms in the shadows. A director of communications is told to shove “a lubricated horse cock” and the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State starts bleeding from the teeth. This is the mayhem of In the Loop, in which an innocent mistake sets off a perfect storm of ego and incompetence as factions of British and American politicians vie to resist or advocate for an Iraq-esque invasion.
The film premiered in 2009 to almost universal rave reviews, and the director Armando Iannucci, who also penned The Death of Stalin and Veep, successfully defended his title as “the most feared political satirist of our age.” A review in The Telegraph did find “a fatal flaw” in In the Loop’s near-nihilism, accusing the film of “colluding in our cynicism about politicians rather than challenging it.” But the past few years of American politics have marked a descent into White House-perpetuated lies and “moral bankruptcy,” the likes of which Iannucci couldn’t even imagine—not to mention Britain’s mid-Brexit, post-Boris landscape. As long as President Donald Trump is enacting foreign policy via tweet, you can’t quite accuse Iannucci of overstating the depths of corruption or incompetency.
In the midst of much hand-wringing over whether satirizing politics might be the root of our ills, or whether it’s even possible anymore, a rewatch of In the Loop might provide more catharsis than rage retweeting a New York Times Op-Ed. Take Peter Capaldi’s profanity-laced monologues as Malcom Tucker, Director of Communications for the prime minister. Capaldi plays Tucker as an enraged, nearly unhinged, spin doctor prone to descending into graphic, visceral sprees. He’s not likeable. You probably won’t root for him as he rants against hapless aides and overworked colleagues. But, 10 years later, his searing tirades remain apropos—and hot to the touch.
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the film, Document finds renewed relevance in Malcolm Tucker’s prescient cynicism with a few of his most decimating remarks.
“We’ve got enough fucking Petagon goons here to stage a fucking coup d’etat.”
In the film, Tucker is addressing the roomful of American officials who’ve popped over the pond for a London meeting, but it could work just as well as a catch-all response to Trump’s particular affinity for a militaristic ambiance. And Trump’s not satisfied with the occasional parade alone—he likes to maintain that authoritarian glow eight days a week. In the first six months of his administration, Trump appointed more generals to his cabinet than any president since World War II: a somewhat unsurprising stat.
“You may have heard him say that but he did not say that and that is a fact.”
The Kellyanne of it all.
“You know, I’ve come across a lot of psychos, but none as fucking boring as you. I mean, you are a really boring fuck. Sorry, I know that you disapprove of swearing so i’ll sort that out. You are a boring ‘F-star-star’ cunt.”
Malcom Tucker does well to note the particular insidiousness of a boring politician when speaking with Lieutenant General George Miller, played by The Sopranos’ James Gandolfini. But this eloquent appraisal could apply to the majority of President Trump’s rotating cast of watery-eyed goons: Mike Pompeo, Stephen Miller, Bill Barr, Mitch McConnell, the list goes on. Sad!
“The Telegraph has a cartoon of you teetering on the Great Wall of China, suggesting that you are the only fuck up visible from space.”
Given the wealth of fuck ups worthy of such a title today (looking at you Jared Kushner), maybe the more challenging test might be to find someone only mildly atrocious. They don’t make mid-range, straight shooting fuck-ups like they used to.
“Are you sure you’re working as hard as me because I’m sweating spinal fluid here.”
Just as Malcolm Tucker sprinted through the United Nations, the 2020 Democratic candidates are hurtling through early voting states, locked in a desperate race to out hustle each other. Though Trump has begun ramping up his reelection efforts, I doubt he’s sweating anything but the grease from cold chicken nuggets.