Riot and Bullingdon Clubs: once a bully, always a bully?

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Le Riot club, un film récemment sorti dans les salles, met en lumière les agissements des clubs élitistes au sein grandes universités britanniques et soulève ainsi des interrogations sur les valeurs de la classe politique conservatrice.
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The Riot Club, directed by Danish director Lone Sherfig, tells the story of Miles and Alistair, two first-year students at Oxford University with two opposite personalities. Both are willing to do anything to get into the Riot Club, a long established elite drinking club. Through debaucheries, abuses, violence and sex, the Riot Club’s values seems to be completely out of kilter with the ordinary conservative values everybody is familiar with.
Upon seeing the similarities between the Riot Club and the Bullingdon Club, David Cameron’s old club, one can wonder what the real aim of this film is and what Sherfig really wanted to denounce with her film. The Riot Club‘s aim is clearly to denounce the dangerous class divisions in the famous British universities as Oxford or Cambridge, as illustrated by the elitist clubs.
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The most famous and infamous of these clubs is the Bullingdon Club, created in Oxford during the 18th century. Many personalities were members of that club, as the Daily Mirror revealed the day of the general election in 2010 when it published a disturbing picture for the Tories, with David Cameron (#2) and London Mayor Boris Johnson (#8) in the Bullingdon Club in 1987.
The likeness between the Riot club and the Bullingdon Club does raise some questions. The club is known for its sexism, its violence and its lack of equality. Are these characteristics rooted in Britain’s political life as well?
David Cameron was indeed accused of misogyny because of the lack of women in his cabinet and because of his famous sentence to a woman MP:”calm down, dear”. These politicians do seem out of touch with ordinary people as Bullingdon Club members are. There is also an important social determinism strengthened by these people’s address book created in these Oxbridge clubs and only available to the richest Eton or Westminster students. Of course the PM tried to hide this information and then declared that he regretted his youthful indiscretions. But one of the rules of the Bullingdon Club is that once you are a member, you are always a member…
Benjamin CHILOT & Garreg JUTTEAU
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