The vast moral hypocrisy of stars pontificating from their gilded bubble so obviously only makes things worse, you have to assume they are doing it on purpose
Marina Hyde – The Guardian
Bad Pitt … ‘when everyone on the Trump right is sharing your speech, maybe you didn’t end up helping.’ Illustration: Nick Oliver/The Guardian
Don’t you dare tell me the Oscars change nothing, when this year’s efforts surely changed the perception that Hollywood is anti-Trump. Several of the speeches at Sunday night’s ceremony can only – only! – be read as covert attempts to boost the Trump vote.
Think about it. Surely no movie star can have so little clue about how they’re perceived outside their own bubble, or indeed about the vast moral hypocrisies of that bubble, to think that “using their moment in the spotlight” converts a single person to their cause. Surely they realise it just pushes people outside the bubble harder in the other direction. Surely, right …?
Otherwise, standing up in an outfit whose absolute entry level is $10,000 (and that’s for the men) to deliver some homily about this or that is really the height of cluelessness as to how these things work. The vast, vast majority of Americans don’t watch the Oscars (it had its lowest TV audience ever on Sunday). They just end up seeing clips of it all, mostly packaged and pushed by partisan sources.
And yet, the notion that they might actually be doing harm with their lectures seems never to have remotely occurred to a significant portion of the stars “using their power for good”. It’s almost as if finding out how the slice-and-dice social media culture war works is too much of a hassle, to say nothing of the answer being unfathomably chastening. If the stars were to devote even an hour of their time to investigating how these things now play out, they might find out the reality: they are among the worst possible messengers. They wipe 50% off the value of any opinion just by driving it out of the showroom. Especially the good views. Just because “the market” declares your worth to be $20m when you’re pretending to be someone else, it doesn’t mean that you doing you has the same currency.
Listen, I like Brad Pitt as much as the next person, but the best-supporting-actor winner might care to consider the fact that when everyone on the Trump right – from Eric Trump to Fox News to multiple accounts who don’t normally post about showbiz – is sharing your speech then maybe … maybe you didn’t end up helping? Pitt’s lofty conclusion – “in the end the grownups do the right thing” – appeared to be the pay-off to some point about getting Quentin Tarantino to make a movie about the impeachment. It was all somewhat confused, but is Tarantino being allied with the grownups here? I hate to fall back on the old staple, but let me confirm: only in Hollywood!
Or consider the tide of congratulation that has flooded Natalie Portman’s way for … hang on, let me get my reading specs on … wearing a custom Christian Dior cape on to whose border had been subtly embroidered the names of female directors snubbed in the nominations. On the one hand, thank you to Natalie for reminding us that couture is the only truly ethical choice – that way you can be sure of the age of the fingers that have embroidered your outfit. I’m afraid those slumming it in mainline Dior – or, God forbid, carrying a bag from a diffusion range – have to accept that they’re buying from a retailer that was found in 2018to be among the worst for protecting workers from exploitation in overseas factories. So yes, much better to focus on overlooked female directors in Hollywood, as opposed to overlooked female garment workers in Bangladesh.
But on the other hand … Do. Me. A. Favour. Over to Rose McGowan, widely dismissed as waaaaay too cray-cray for Respectability Hollywood, whose reaction to Portman’s hideously tasteful stunt was hugely withering: “Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do … I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work. I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk … You are the problem … There is no law that says you need to hire women, work with women, or support women. By all means, you do you. But I am saying stop pretending you’re some kind of champion for anything other than yourself. As for me, I’ll be over here raising my voice and fighting for change without any compensation. That is activism. Until you and your fellow actresses get real, do us all a favour and hang up your embroidered activist cloak, it doesn’t hang right.”
Well now. Fair play to Rose, who’s been told she’ll never eat lunch in this town more times than she’s even eaten lunch.
Ultimately, nothing is barking harder up the wrong tree than a ceremony at which Jeff Bezos is sitting in the audience, and Chris Rock, of all supposed iconoclasts, only chooses to joke about the Amazon boss’s divorce settlement and how rich he is. Really? Three-quarters of a million people work for this apex corporate predator, many in grim conditions, and millions more are going to end up doing so, even though the trillion-dollar company still wets its pants anytime it’s not allowed to avoid tax. But tell us again how much Jeff gave his wife while he smiles in satisfaction in the audience. Yes, don’t worry, entertainers! None of you have burned your bridges with his shitty company.
As for promising cinematic projects from Trumpland itself, standout news of the week is that Trump-supporting actor Dean Cain – who 90s TV viewers will remember as Superman – is apparently to star as the president in a movie where Trump becomes the first human to walk on Mars. And so to the press release for Being Trump, sent to the AV Club by JC Films, which describes itself as a Christian film ministry. The movie is a political comedy, as you might have guessed, that “unveils the truth and mystery about Donald Trump’s politics”. “President Donald Trump’s Space Force program has quickly become a reality,” we learn from the synopsis, “and when the first mission to MARS is introduced our President insists on being the first man to walk the red planet.” OK: hit us with act two. “However, the framers of our constitution never imagined a sitting President leaving the planet and if so, would Trump really need to transfer his powers or could he just find a lookalike to fill in for a few days.”
Hugely promising, I think you’ll agree – but in the interests of balance, I suppose we’ll have to look at what the other side is doing. Pause has been unpressed on the release of The Hunt, a satirical thriller written by Damon Lindelof in which some elite liberals hunt and kill red-state conservatives for sport. The movie’s release was pushed back in the wake of a spate of shootings last year, but not before rightwing pundits had got hold of the premise.
“Sick” and “twisted”, judged Fox anchor Lou Dobbs, adding that the idea of elites hunting deplorables sounded “a little too real”. Arguably, Lou, it sounds a little like the seminal 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme classic Hard Target. (Tagline: “Businessmen hunt the ultimate prey … man.”) For his part, Trump himself went full Pauline Kael: “Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!” he tweeted in response to whatever he’d heard about the movie. “They like to call themselves ‘Elite,’ but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite. The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!”
Or, as Lindelof put it this week: “We think that people who see it are going to enjoy it and this may be a way to shine a light on a very serious problem in the country, which is that we’re divided. And we think the movie may actually, ironically, bring people together.”
Yes. It really won’t, but I’m sure it’s fun. As hinted earlier, the movie I’d like to see is a satire where all the most socially conscious stars in Hollywood were actually genuine double agents for hard-right governments and rapacious corporate power. But something tells me we will literally see Dean Cain walk on Mars before the green light shines on that.