OPINION: Will Smith walloping Chris Rock across the face live on international television was not a departure from Hollywood norms. In fact, the act was simply the entitlement and privilege of celebrity made manifest.
I despise Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the entertainment that is produced by its studios and acknowledge the talent of those who make it. But the culture of self-congratulations, obscene wealth, and endless moral hectoring makes my skin crawl.
The idea that the masses - living life with a fraction of these celebrities’ resources - should subscribe to their worldview is nonsensical. These, by and large, are people who are paid insane amounts of money to play dress up and pretend. Many of them have spent more time in rehab than they did at high school and yet they have the audacity to lecture the rest of us about life.
The problem is that the echo chamber they are ensconced in is completely divorced from reality. Famous and wealthy, they buy into their own mythology. They forget that they are a mirage, a veneer. They are the sum of their most well-known characters to those who adore them and adulation as a result of fictional performance does not qualify someone to instruct the population on politics and morality.
These are the people who thought Do They Know It’s Christmas was an appropriate way to sing about an entire continent. They literally got together multiple times over the decades to record these words:
But say a prayer, Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring
There are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?
“Thank God it’s them instead of you”? Charming! It is so bad I feel second-hand embarrassment for them.
Ricky Gervais nailed it when he hosted the 2020 Golden Globes. He spoke to the millions and millions of people watching and quite rightly made the celebrities, the entertainers, the entertainment.
Gervais roasted big names with spicy home truths and then tormented the room with their own hypocrisy as they sat unsure whether to continue to grin manically, porcelain veneers twinkling, or to begin a slow disapproving shaking of the head.
Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Well, you say you’re woke but the companies you work for in China — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?
So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.
So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent, and your God and f*** off, OK?
Even so, the most completely obtuse of celebrities strode determinedly forward to prove Gervais right delivering speeches dripping with patronising platitudes. None more obtuse than Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series winner Patricia Arquette who - while inexplicably wearing sunglasses inside - implored Americans to vote out President Trump because, in her view, America was “a country on the brink of war, the United States of America, a president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs on cultural sites…”
Just two years later, Arquette would emphatically remind the world why we should completely ignore the political reckonings of celebrities like her when she tweeted out:
Kick Russia out of NATO.
Russia is not part of NATO. To say the least.
Acting is without a doubt an art form - when done well. It is a skill and the very best actors should be acknowledged for their talent. But it is high time we stopped allowing actors to pretend they have the authority to ‘educate’ us on matters of importance.
Living in gated communities and with security entourages, many celebrities espouse social policies that they will never have to suffer the consequences of. Their pseudo-moralistic stances are profoundly ill-informed and deeply out of touch. They can call for the defunding of the police because they can afford their own security. They will not lose multiple family members to gun violence or have their family-owned business looted to the point of collapse.
Overpaid hired clowns do not know more about life than a single mother working as a nurse or a man who delivers packages and stacks shelves. Their bank balance does not qualify them to lecture on the environment, politics, and morality. Nor does the fact that people like to take photos with them.
At what point do we, those they may as well see as dollar signs, refuse to accept their fake profundity? If we all stop paying attention to their grandstanding will they stop? Does a celebrity preaching in a forest, with no one there to hear them, make a sound?