In these, the New Normal days of the 21st Century, it may well be time for a new social contract between not just Government and People, but also between those who live through media fame, those State gargoyles who would ruthlessly use them as tools of mendacious persuasion, and the recipients of such propaganda who may die as a result of of gullibility. We are talking about three levels of responsibility here: It is down to everyone to play their part.
I have finally reached that stage in life where I no longer know what famous people are famous for. Come to think of it, I don’t really know what they’re for, full stop.
It is one of the odder elements of our species – but undeniable – that we make a connection between celebrity and wisdom. He or she is famous (we seem to feel) “and not many people are, so they must be worth listening to”.
But that doesn’t begin to hang together as an argument. Not many people wind up sky-diving either, but I wouldn’t turn to a jumper for advice on how to land a plane. Nor would I consult a bloke lying in a skid row gutter about whisky blending.
The vast majority of celebs are variously famous for singing, telling funny stories, acting and compèring on TV, or being movie stars. More and more this century, we have idiots who are famous for being famous….or ‘media commentators’ who work the chat-show circuit and reveal nothing very much beyond how nasty and anti-social they are just below the surface. Alastair Campbell is very good at that – albeit unconsciously.
However, most of these fame-drenched folks fulfill but one social role: to entertain us.
Some of them can’t even manage that: I wouldn’t trust Posh Spice to give me the right time if I asked. And I certainly wouldn’t ask Ant & Dec about survival in the Outback. In fact, that trio doesn’t entertain me at all. They are – as the quiz show would have it – Pointless.
So for those who do manage to entertain, I try desperately to see some sign of wisdom they may have to impart; but in truth, it is a fruitless search because these are people who pretend for a living. And yet somehow, this gives them the right to preach on the subject of socio-political reality.
George Clooney insisted in 2016 that Trump would not become President. Leonardo de Caprio goes to Davos regularly, and thinks that Schwab is a genius. Jennifer Flowers took time out “to fix our democracy”. This entire clique have spent the last thirty years promoting an intolerantly “correct” culture that took us to where we are today: that if you’re progressively on message, what does Free Speech matter?
They raise money for a Ukrainian liar and embezzler….and in reality, that’s always been a part of their job – to endorse products.
My own alma mater of advertising must bear huge responsibility for that. Here’s Ronald Reagan in the late 1940s illustrating his grasp of the pharmacology of tobacco…just to keep the Surgeon General in his place:
…..and here’s Michael Caine doing the same thing in a reverse for Big-Fibbing Pharma:
The only truthful thing he could find to say about it was “it didn’t hurt a bit”. Oddly enough, the bite of an inland Taipan snake doesn’t hurt either, because within seconds you’re paralyzed and 27 minutes later you’re dead. Mind you, Taipan venom doesn’t have any graphene in it either, whereas the Covid vaccines do, but Michael never got round to mentioning why a major bioweapon ingredient is in a “fully tested and completely safe” thing called a vaccine that doesn’t vaccinate. As such.
Until you’ve met a particular celebrity in the flesh, you have no idea what they’re about. The media you see them on are ideal for hiding the flaws. Work with them, however, and you quickly realise who’s real and who isn’t. Eric Clapton is sound, Peter Cook was charm itself and yet vicious to pseuds, Jon Pertwee was the World Champion professional artist, Martin Clunes is a giggler/corpser, and the hugely underrated character actor Jimmy Hazeldene was every director’s favourite for all the right reasons.
Then there are the others. Glenda Jackson was just awful, Paul McCartney lacks a moral compass, Hughie Green was quite the nastiest man I’ve ever met, Tommy Cooper was, shall we say, unreliable….and John Cleese was eternally ill-tempered.
But at the End of the Day, there really are two types of celebrity: those who exploit the media – while complaining that it’s the other way round; and those who aim to perfect how to use them as a performing artist…and adapt flexibly while never compromising their standards. I hugely prefer the latter lot because they know what their job is.
There is nothing admirable about being famous. Fame is worthless until it has alleviated and diluted profound wrongs in a civilisation…be they as simple as lightening the mood of a downtrodden wage-slave, or bringing down an evil régime. That’s more to do with the content of the piece being performed more than the over-cooked ego of the player. Often, there is no “message” in the content and that is entirely as it should be: there is nothing worse than watching earnest Luvvies spouting a didactic script.
When celebs meet, a frequent opening question is, “So – you workin’?” This reflects the fundamentally precarious nature of their profession and why – when there is threatening blackmail in the air – they are more inclined than most to fold and run away.
To exploit that insecurity in order to promote a dangerously untested medication (that is only on the market at all because many Anglo-American bureaucrats lied) plumbs those oceanic depths of psychopathy most ordinary people do not care to contemplate.
It is nevertheless a truism about advertising that fame breeds trust.
Two bottom lines here: first, those who dare to have influence on the population must remember at all times not to exploit their gullible fans; and second, those who plead gullibility have an equal duty to ask more questions.
Ignorance is bliss
if you’re only obeying orders –
but may become the kiss
of death when you’re repelling boarders.