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Ostentatious virtue.


TIME WAS WHEN actors and other celebrities kept their political views to themselves. They knew their place. They were entertainers, not pontificators. If they wanted to be activists they usually channelled their virtue through charities. Their “charidee” work meant they could do some good, get a quiet nod of approval from the public and be gently mocked by various comedians at the same time.

Occasionally someone broke free of the crowd and made a very public statement, as Marlon Brando did in 1973 by sending Sacheen Littlefeather to reject his award for Best Actor at the Oscars. For some reason he didn’t like the way the film industry treated American Indians so he thought he’d make his own un-Custer-like stand.

It set a template for the tedious social justice celeb of today. Pick a victim group and promote yourself as their saviour. Stand up like Streep among your simpering mates and mouth off your clichés about racism and xenophobia. Do a Lily Allen and take a film crew to record you crying with a family of immigrants in the Calais Jungle. Exercise your imagination like J K Rowling to demand we take more refugees. Just make sure you’re personally insulated from any unpleasant consequences of succeeding in your endeavour.

That has worked well so far, despite the backlash on Twitter and other social media. But the reality has at last hit home with George Clooney and his human-rights lawyer-wife, Amal (ye gods, the power of smug with that combination is off the scale). They had joyfully joined the Syrian refugee bandwagon. They urged the UK to take more refugees, they met refugees in Berlin, they had a pow-wow with Angela Merkel and David Miliband (now a highly-paid, professional do-gooder with The International Rescue Committee) and agreed with Germany’s open door policy for refugees.

After Manchester, ‘George and Amal have decided the place is no longer safe for their kids, so they’re…jetting off to the security of their LA pad in Trumpland.’

The Clooneys by this time had acquired a very nice Grade ll-listed pile in Sonning, in England’s green and pleasant, if still a bit racist, land, to go along with their Italian mansion near Lake Como, their pad in LA and various others around the world. Clooney, so the fairy tale went, could see himself growing “old and grey” in lovely England beside the Thames. Until the Muslim terror attacks in London and Manchester, that was. Now all that open border spiel didn’t seem quite such a good idea. George and Amal have decided the place is no longer safe for their kids, so they’re upping sticks and jetting off to the security of their LA pad in Trumpland. What an embarrassment.

What a bloody cheek, as well. The rest of us don’t have the option of running away from the possibility of being blown up, shot, stabbed, hacked or run down by the peaceful five percent of the population who are protected and pandered to by the fourth estate and their celebrity chums.

Why do they do it? Why do they so relentlessly, uncritically blather these inanities (apart from the fact they can, and get publicity in the process)? Maybe it’s simply because they realise they’re making immense amounts of money by doing something that’s irrelevant and trivial. Entertaining people is OK but it’s ultimately not a serious endeavour, is it? And these people are desperate to be taken seriously. So spouting off about important matters in public is a way of saying to the world, “Hey, look, I may be famous for pretending to be other people/writing stories/singing songs/kicking a ball around a field, etc, but I’m a serious person. I have profound thoughts that you should listen to. And it’s not because I feel guilty I’ve made huge amounts of money doing this trivial stuff, honestly. I’m with you, even though you don’t have as much money as me or live in the nice areas I do. But at least you should know I’m on the right side morally, because I’m repeating the same things all the other trendy, famous, beautiful people are saying and we can’t all be wrong, can we?”

Except you are wrong. All the time. Repeatedly. And it’s boring. And a lot of us are truly, madly, deeply sick of your sanctimony. If only you could all pack up your bags and depart with George and Amal. Stick to your trivial pursuits and keep your fake seriousness to yourself. We like you better that way.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.

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