Hey Hollywood? Shut up.
As the US election enters zero hour, we find ourselves once again bombarded by celebrities informing us not just how they have voted, but how others should vote.
Even at the height of the UK Labour party’s Red Wedge tours in the 80s featuring The Style Council, Madness, The Specials, Jimmy Somerville, Silly Bragg et al (and the Conservative’s laughable equivalent where they wheeled out Michael Winner, Jimmy Tarbuck, Steve Davis, and Kenny “Let’s bomb Russia!” Everett) it was nothing like the swarm of puffed up narcissists we have now, offering advice or orders.
Comedian Chelsea Handler set a new standard when she recently appeared on the Tonight Show hosted by one of the chat show Jimmies. She was asked about her recent back and forth on Twitter with ex-boyfriend 50 Cent, after he said he would be supporting Donald Trump. She said, “I had to remind him that he is a black person so he can’t vote for Donald Trump and he shouldn’t be influencing an entire swathe of people who may listen to him because he’s worried about his own personal pocketbook.”
Her remarkable statement seemed to get little criticism in the US. Perhaps, like us, they are now so used to this kind of clown-shoe-politicking from jellyheaded showbiz cretins, that it merely elicits an eye roll and they move on.
Aside from the fact that they appear to be the most fragile and yet most opinionated little gang, should we trust showbiz types with moral leadership?
Roman Polanski still faces multiple charges in the USA, including one for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Gailey. And yet at the 2003 Oscars he received a standing ovation from the great and the good, including Hollywood royalty Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese (with Harvey Weinstein standing behind him), and Jack Nicholson (in whose home the crime took place). They judged that the talent of the director in such a forum, was worth furiously applauding, rather than for a moment reflecting on the fact that he was not there because if he was, he would be arrested for ‘unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor’ (something he pleaded guilty to).
Hollywood’s hypocrisy is self-evident to everyone outside of that bubble. Would they have stood up and clapped Bill Cosby if he’d won for Ghost Dad? They are apparently incapable of seeing what bare-faced horrors they are, and see no problem with behaving this way, and then lecturing everyone else to be better humans.
The much-feted auteur Quentin Tarantino claimed Polanski’s 13-year-old victim was “down with it” and “a party girl”. While Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg made a vile attempt to defend him on The View saying, “He didn’t commit ‘rape, rape’”.
How, in a world that gave us ‘trauma’ at being ‘misgendered’, have this shower slipped past the ravenous mob of squealing infants who now police history?
As the director Kevin Smith said, “Look, I dig ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, but rape’s rape”
In 2009, when Polanski was arrested in Switzerland with a view to extraditing him to the US to face the charges, over a hundred actors signed a petition demanding his release including Emma Thompson, Natalie Portman (both of whom later apologised, one presumes not because of any outcry…), David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and Tilda Swinton. And remember, there are other allegations against Polanski too, of a similarly grotesque vein, which the director denies, but no one in a business that is so inward looking could claim ignorance to his past.
And so, the same Meryl Streep who lauded him in 2003, (and who attacked Donald Trump’s presidency on stage in an ‘emotional’ address at the Golden Globes in 2017, saying ‘When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose’, and of course referred to Harvey Weinstein as ‘God’) said of Polanski’s arrest that she was, “very sorry to hear he’s in jail.”
Contrast that to the actress Adèle Haenel, who has said she was herself abused as a child by another filmmaker. When Polanski won the best director award at 2020 Cesars (‘the French Oscars’), she walked out in protest.
When Streep joined others in wearing black to the 2018 Golden Globes in support of ‘Time’s Up’ — following the multiple sexual assault allegations aimed at Harvey Weinstein — Rose McGowan said, “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster (Weinstein), are wearing black [at the] Golden Globes in a silent protest. Your silence is the problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly and affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy.”
This apparently open ‘forgiveness’ of Polanski (pictured) from the Hollywood elite, made their support for the ‘Time’s Up’ campaign feel all the more duplicitous. Twisted even. And sadly, gives over to the feeling that nothing will actually change in what is clearly, despite its progressive veneer, one of the most unenlightened industries to work in.
Fashion retailer boohoo recently partnered with arguably the greatest boxer of his generation, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jr. Mayweather, one of the richest sportsmen that’s ever lived, has a record of repeated violence and abuse of women, while boohoo sell a T-shirt with the slogan, ‘Men Shouldn’t Be Making laws About Women’. It’s like some kind of corporate joke. Or just shameless and morally bankrupt sloganeering?
The fashion industry, as with Hollywood or major sport franchises (or indeed any global money-making enterprise), is on shaky ground when it spouts moral outrage, or offers critiques of anyone’s actions but their own. Not while sweat shops exist to make their ‘fast fashion’, or while films and teams are censored, manipulated and censured to appeal to national regimes that regard human rights as optional.
When an A-lister stands at a podium, with their coiffured hair, botoxed forehead, and freshly peeled cheeks as shiny and smooth as a wet apple, to lecture the world to ‘be better’ or some other twattery, it just comes across like an alcoholic uncle at a wedding who pops outside to chat with the youngsters, stumbling into the conversation with misfiring cultural references, and then warns them about ‘doing spliffs’.
No one’s buying it sunshine. Jog on.
Buy Tom James’ new book Your Children Are Boring here on paperback and kindle in the UK, US and worldwide.