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Margaret Thatcher, grotesque puppet

Of the many things for which Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, will be remembered, surely one of her most enduring and oddest legacies will be role as a pop culture muse. She was a woman who could coax songs out of Elvis Costello and films from Stephen Frears and Derek Jarman. She was a television series plot point and a music video star. And she inspired, in part, because that lock-jawed, big-haired former British prime minister possessed that irresistible combination of being both easily imitable and widely loathed. The result was an astonishingly rich 35 years worth of rich inspiration.

Sure, if it weren't for Thatcher, we might not have had the miner's Strike and the poll tax riots, but give a woman credit for launching a whole lot of artists and their works. Almost four years ago to the day, when the U.K. Guardian reflected on her artistic legacy, Billy Bragg observed, "Whenever I'm asked to name my greatest inspiration, I always answer 'Margaret Thatcher.'"

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