Whatever it meant in 1996 when Noel Gallagher wrote it means nothing and whatever it means now is something else entirely- Don’t Look Back in Anger takes the shambling fin de siècle apocalypse of All the Young Dudes and steers it in a hopeful, structurally sound direction, culminating in this very very very excruciatingly important image: Ginger Spice, David Beckham, Robbie Williams, and Jamie Oliver standing arms linked in the middle of a football field, shadows cast dramatically by the floodlights, singing with us the shitfaced yobbos in the stands this decorated ode to Blair’s Britain. This is the United Kingdom at the Turn of the Millennium.
The previous image of the turn was of an unrecognisable island with Æthelred II raiding and massacring and fighting to Unite the Kingdom of the English, and then in a flash the Battle of Hastings, the Crusades, the Black Death, the Hundred Years’ War, the Protestant Reformation, William Shakespeare, the Atlantic slave trade, the British Empire, the Civil War, the legal theft of the commons and the Agricultural Revolution, the Great Fire of London, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Industrial Revolution, the Slavery Abolition Act, Chartism, the Education Act, World War I, the Representation of the People Act, World War II, the collapse of the British Empire, punk rock, Thatcher, and finally Cool Britannia.
The Kinks had three decades prior looked over this and produced music which warned of the seductive force that is nostalgia and the Disneyland simulacrum that is national memory, but then ‘the 1960s’ three decades later was taken as a signifier of British excellence through cultural colonisation and compounded with other hollow signifiers to make Ray Davies’ joke a reality. This is the British Disneyland and Ginger Spice, David Beckham, Robbie Williams, and Jamie Oliver singing to Oasis in the football field is the main attraction.
Austin Powers emerges in his blue velvet jacket to say something about Princess Diana, and nobody can tell that he is not James Bond, and Elton John is wheeled out (Vanessa Carlton’s eyes light up) to perform Candle in the Wind 1997. Ginger Spice, David Beckham, Robbie Williams, Jamie Oliver, Austin Powers, and Elton John link arms and and the two on the ends (Ginger Spice and Austin Powers) wave to the crowd who get up and wander into the night chanting the chorus of Don’t Look Back in Anger. Ginger et al. will have five minutes for a glass of water and costume change before doing this again and again until the park closes a few years down the track and is replaced by a city-sized replica of Weatherfield where the Rovers Return is run by the cast of Downton Abbey and every television plays moderately well shot and colour graded Netflix Originals about the royal family.