On Monday evening, the comedian Ricky Gervais – at best split – chose a room that was filled to the brim of Hollywood’s mega-elite. At the Golden Globes awards ceremony, he said: “If you win a prize tonight, do not use it as a platform to deliver a political speech. You will not be able to tell the public about anything, you will not know anything about it the real world. “
The Gervais attack – sparked by the growing tendency of celebrities to give political lectures at award ceremonies – encountered a sea of dull and thin-lipped Hollywood stars that anyone could question whether they were on any topic or not.
Shortly after Gervais made his views clear to the faculty without speaking about evidence of lectures, his point of view was proven. Actress Michelle Williams took the stage – as if she spoke for all American women – to talk about abortion. Patricia Arquette approached the podium to address the state of the nation: “In the history books we will see a country on the brink of war. The United States, a president who tweets a threat to 52 bombs, including cultural sites. Young people who risk their lives and travel the world. People who don’t know if bombs are falling on their children’s heads and the Australian continent is on fire. , , “
It is easy to tolerate such political interventions by celebrities if we agree with what they say. The Hollywood elite is generally liberal, if superficial, generally centered, temperate, and environmentally friendly. The problem, however, is not the message, but rather that messengers are not empowered to tell the public what to do or who to vote for.
Gervais was interested in emphasizing the A-Lister’s hypocrisy. Referring to Apple’s linchpin of streaming with the new drama The Morning Show, he said it was “a great drama about the importance of dignity and the right thing made by a company selling sweatshirts in China” ,
It is true that Hollywood has a special predilection for hypocrisy. Kim Kardashian tweeted a heartfelt message about the realities of climate change, but flies everywhere in a private plane. Kylie Jenner, who had broken her heart from the ongoing bushfires in Australia, once chartered a jet for a makeup launch party. As Gervais noted, authors, directors, and actors claim moral esteem while lining the pockets of companies with dubious moral practices.
But deciphering the hypocrisy of the stars – although it’s easy – misses the mark. Hypocrisy is neither new nor the worst. We should rather beware of celebrities claiming the role of moral referees and signaling virtue that couldn’t be more different.
It’s no surprise that A-Listeners have trouble reading rural Ohio from their Hollywood-style mansion
It is obvious that these stars have an incredible privilege and most of them have very little experience in regular life. Most don’t know what it’s like to be dependent on the welfare state, and certainly didn’t have to worry about losing their livelihood by closing a steel mill in Virginia.
And the phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common is not necessarily new – Frank Sinatra campaigned for Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940s. A vacuum appears to have developed in the secular west when religion begins to play a subordinate role for a considerable number of people. Where most people used to seek moral guidance from religious books or religious guides, they are now looking elsewhere.
Celebrities have kindly made themselves aware of their importance and are happy to use them. But even though they exercise some kind of moral power, as a group they have no real moral legitimation. The difference between the Archbishop of Paris and Sean Penn is that there is no coherent moral foundation to support Penn’s latest pet project. The difference between Donald Trump and Patricia Arquette is that Trump – despite his litany of character and moral errors – was chosen.
Celebrities are useful cultural hallmarks when it comes to identifying trends, whether it’s a film worth seeing or an album worth listening to. Your role ends there. But when the boundaries blur, the lessons they try to share with the world get authority they don’t deserve.
It’s hard to miss the fact that celebrity interference in our politics is either alienated – Gary Lineker and Patrick Stewart’s Remain advocates have only anchored the narrative that the Brexit struggle was – or at least – one of the elite metropolises against ordinary people illustrative How contactless they really are – for example, the flood of A-listeners that Hillary Clinton is confident that she will lose the election anyway.
It’s no surprise, of course, that A-Listeners have trouble reading rural Ohio from their Hollywood Hills mansion. That’s okay because it’s not their job – there are a lot of people who do it quietly and without recognition.
But the narcissism peculiar to celebrities who believe in a God-given right to teach the public – often as a status marker, as evidence that they are on the right side of history – is patronizing and much more troubling than hypocrisy that underlies it so often.