Now that the award season is over and the film-stars/celebrities/musicians have all had their congratulatory, self-love fests for yet another year, all to dismal viewing figures, for the production of cultural output most of us would have to be forced to watch in a similar manner as Alex in A Clockwork Orange, what have we simple proles learned from them?
Well, apart from the realisation that I’m not a youngster anymore and the alarming number of musical acts I didn’t know from the Brit Awards: Stormzy, Dua Lipa, J Hus, Childish Gambino and LCD Soundsystem, despite considering myself to be ‘down with the kids’ (I still listen to Radio One on occasion) was the blatant politicisation of these events as well as the endless social commentary from many of those present.
The aforementioned rapper Stormzy used his acceptance speech to attack the UK governments response to the Grenfell Tower Tragedy. Something that with metronomic predictability, required an official government response of course. Paloma Faith turned up wearing two white roses for the #metoo movement and complained that not enough men were wearing a white rose in sympathy. Being an oppressed woman, those 2.3 million album sales in the UK must have been even more difficult for her to achieve. Those four Brit award nominations since 2011 for ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ must also be another sign of the crushing and endemic oppression that has been thwarting her very successful and enduring career in the music industry.
Kendrick Lamar appeared on top of a giant glass box while a man smashed up a Lamborghini that was contained within. Statement on vacuous materialism? Statement on Italian super-cars? Statement on our unsustainable consumption patterns and wasteful mode of life? Utter waste of time and effort to make a piece of patronising social commentary that no one asked for? That sounds about right. I expect Kendrick Lamarr doesn’t drive a 1.4 litre Ford Focus to the recording studio, but again, let’s not mention that.
The 2018 Oscars weren’t any better. Emma Watson’s ‘Times Up’ tattoo with the apostrophe missing. The host, Jimmy Kimmel, making constant references to the recent spate of Hollywood sex scandals, where he called the Oscar statue: ‘the most respected man in Hollywood [because] he keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word and, most importantly, [has] no penis at all’ or praising Hollywood for producing more films with BME’s and women in them: ‘I remember a time when the major studios didn’t believe a woman or a minority could open a superhero movie and the reason I remember that time is because it was March of last year.’ This ignores films and characters like Spawn, Blade, Hancock, Storm from The X-men franchise played by Halle Berry and Nick Fury played by Samuel L Jackson in The Avengers. But these films didn’t fit the narrative, so again, best to ignore them. Films, where women have a leading or strong support role, are too numerous to mention. Just watch any film. Amazingly enough, they seem to make up about half the cast, depending on the script.
Oscars 2018 also witnessed the first ever transsexual performer to present an award. At some point in the near future, award ceremonies will either dismiss gender-based awards entirely or add another category for ‘gender-fluid’ performers. ‘And the award for best bi-polar, transsexual, two-spirit performance in a lesbian drama goes to…’ This will ensure that the Oscars viewing figures go down even further and the whole ceremony becomes a bloated and unwieldy mess.
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Such politicisation and needless social commentating is nothing new. Ava Gardner was an affirmed supporter of the Democratic party and was a regular on the fundraising circuit. Jane Fonda was involved in the anti-war movement in the 1970s, earning her the moniker ‘Hanoi Jane’. Sting dragged some poor Amazonian Chieftain, with a massive lip-plate and ceremonial headdress, around with him to alert us all to the destruction of the Rainforest.
Bono and Bob Geldof have spent almost thirty years pestering us about some social ill that we are already well aware of and that for some unknown reason still persistently exists, despite their interventions. You’d think that we all lived in some bewilderingly complicated world that doesn’t just bend to the diktats of Bono, Bob and Co.
The genesis and nadir of this utterly patronising political attitude was the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign of 2005 and in particular the ‘every three seconds video.’ This involved Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Kate Moss, George Clooney, David Beckham, 50 cent, Liam Neeson, P Diddy, Bono and Cameron Diaz clicking their fingers every three seconds to signify that a child has died of extreme poverty. This is a massive human tragedy (the three seconds statistic, not the celebrities)and only the most utterly callous individual would deny that this didn’t need to be tackled. However, to be informed about this by a group of people with a combined net worth of $3,187 million who are lecturing the rest of the significantly less prosperous section of the population about helping individuals in the Global South is galling, to say the least.
They tried a similar tactic in 2016 with the ‘Save The Day. Vote’, where they encouraged people to register to vote, with the unsubtle inference that you should also vote Democrat. Again, talking down to people and treating them like robots awaiting input from their celebrity masters didn’t result in a landslide victory for Hilary Clinton.
As our celebrities delve deeper into politics, ironically, the cracks in their own goldfish bowl existence start to show. Rumors and jokes about Harvey Weinstein were rampant, an ‘open secret’ if you will, but it took decades for anyone to actually do something about it. This hasn’t stopped Hollywood celebrities from now lecturing us on sexism as if they have just discovered it lurking in their midst’s.
With the ability to reach millions of people via social media, and the still highly covered award ceremonies, it has perhaps given celebrities a slightly inflated sense if their own importance and influence on the world. Luckily, the majority of the populace still aren’t influenced by their intervention and stupid stunts. In 2014, I voted for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. It was part of my identity, my culture. It didn’t make economic sense. I didn’t come to that conclusion because Jenny Agutter was a co-signatory of an open letter, despite her wonderful roles in 70’s sci-fi Logan’s Run and pleasant Sunday night fodder, Call The Midwife.
If any famous person ever reads this, what the majority of us would like you to do is to make cultural products that entertain and enthrall us again. We have enough politics in our lives without our entertainment being infused with your own incongruous brand of extreme-left, liberal, patronising, ‘goldfish bowl’ political ramblings. Get the script, guitar, microphone and get back to work.