People are disappointing. They can also be unexpectedly magnificent. But on the whole, people are disappointing. I can be disappointed in specific people for specific reasons between the time it takes for me to get out of bed and go for a morning piss. That’s a barometer of the disappointing behaviour epidemic. But I accept that I’m a judgey motherfucker about the things that are important to me, so I’ll go further…
I begrudge no-one a celebrity hero. It’s hard to narrow mine down, but Dolly Parton, DJ Prince Paul, Stevie Wonder, Akira Kurosawa, Bill Murray, each of the constituent members of the Wu Tang Clan, Kathy Burke, Morrissey, Robert De Niro, Eric Cantona and the fictional characters Tyrion Lannister, Ena Sharples, Tastee Jefferson and Christine Baskets are all up there.
I’ve not drawn up a list of my favourite people to illustrate how interesting and quirky I am (I am though-deal). I’ve done it to demonstrate that each of these people have a quality or qualities that I deem to be important and special, and therefore these people sort of represent me. They’re what I’m about or what I want to be about.
They’re an unreliable shorthand, granted.
But it’s a theory that has some basis, because when you’ve been working with someone for 18 months and the time has passed with relatively little hassle and then they suddenly talk about their handgun collection and how David Icke does raise some interesting points on the subject of reptilian powerhouses, you realise you could’ve swerved your disappointment if you’d established from the off that their hero is Jeremy Clarkson.
I’ve been glib there, because it’s easy to hate Clarkson. It’s easy to hate Jimmy Savile, Donald Trump, Rolf Harris, Ted Heath… It’s easy to hate people who aren’t politically aligned to you, or whose work you hate.
But what about Woody Allen, Pete Townsend, Phil Spector and Roman Polanski?
I’ve had a lot of fights about Woody Allen. I wrote about it. A lot of people I like won’t condemn Woody Allen. On another blog I posted an article by Victoria Cohen where she alleged the victim in the Woody Allen case (which one? you may ask) might not remember correctly.
They’ve taken Mia Farrow down, or really tried to. Boy, have they taken Farrow down. She’s insane and fuelled by a psychotic hatred for her ex-husband, according to the liberal press.
The man is literally married to his child.
“She wasn’t his kid. They didn’t live together. They’ve been married for fifty years…” bla bla.
It’s his fucking kid. Regardless of her complicity and anyone else’s fucking view on it.
She’s. His. Kid.
Is Hannah and Her Sisters really worth a complete fucking rejection of basic human values?
Nah. Nope. Fuck off.
It’s disappointing. It’s profoundly disappointing, of course it is. Allen has created an incredible body of work and worked uniquely and is an extraordinarily talented film maker.
And probably a paedophile.
Now, can paedophiles make extraordinary films? Well, clearly.
Can an extraordinary film absolve paedophilia? No.
I mean, surely we can all agree on that? Surely that must be a fairly fucking universal ethic?
I understand the public response to people who have done incredible things when suddenly they’re revealed as doing something awful. Because we’ve invested something important about our own identity in that person, or because we simply don’t want to give up on our perceived ideas about them.
Morrissey is my Woody Allen. Morrissey is from the place I’m from, his music has been the soundtrack of my life and he is the greatest lyricist of all time – after Raekwon. When he started making music, he was living in Britain and was writing about the hideous political landscape of the UK at that time. He wrote about angst and social exclusion and pain and suffering with a sort of wit and brevity and he soothed misfits and outcasts in a way that is unlikely to ever be replicated, in my opinion. The Smiths aren’t depressing, they’re the opposite of that. They’re a beacon. They sung about suicide, and since most of us are likely to have a suicidal inclination – at least fleetingly – at some point in our lives, because life is fucking difficult, I can think of nothing less depressing than someone singing for them.
I tell you what IS depressing… Morrissey’s stance on immigration and UKIP. It’s bona fide. And it’s a drag (little Morrissey reference gag, you’re welcome).
The Morrissey situation is what prompted me to write. I mean what do you fucking do when your hero goes to film a live BBC Radio show and talks about UKIP leadership vote rigging like anyone fucking cares? UKIP tapped into a rising tide of fascism prompted by poverty in a moment, Morrissey. The same fascism that always rears its head during recessions, Morrissey. I’m worried about his new album – the first single is about staying in bed because the news contrives to make you feel your views aren’t valid. Has Trump got you on the payroll, Morrissey? For fuck’s sake. You’re ruining everything, you bell.
It puts me in a bind. A moral and ethical bind.
I console myself with the fact he still hates the Royals and the Tories and that he’s misjudged Farage and the British situation. But he’s literally the child of Irish migrants, who emigrated to America, and now discusses the scourge of immigration on a country his family emigrated to.
I can’t help you Morrissey. I can’t buy your new album and I have to separate all your other stuff from you. And that’s on you, you prick.
Now, supporting UKIP is not fucking your own kid. I do get that.
But the premise of a hero who becomes morally objectionable is still a valid one.
Which bring us to Harvey Weinstein.
I spent last week watching the new Kalief Browder documentary mini-series on Netflix. Watch it. If this blog only provokes you to do that, fantastic.
I’ve urged you to watch it, so no spoilers, but it’s about a seventeen year old kid from The Bronx who ends up on Rikers Island for three years, where he was subject to torture and a catalogue of systemic failures that ruined his life. And about the consequences of that. Kalief’s is not a unique story, but it’s a fairly unique documentary because I rarely see anything that talks about or deals with race properly.
That’s because it’s white people who make nearly all media and culture. White people always reduce issues to the minutiae and individuals… they make PoC saintly, or criminal, or dead within the first six minutes and fuck that.
When PoC refused to attend the Oscars they were ridiculed and it was made about Jada Pinkett-Smith being personally aggrieved. Some white actress suggested that black actors and film makers need to do better if they wanted to be nominated. I can’t remember who it was, and I won’t Google it, because that cunt isn’t worth two seconds of my fucking time.
Di Caprio made a great speech about the environment that year, which would’ve been fabulous, except he shouldn’t have fucking been there. Everyone should’ve boycotted it.
Leo, why do you want to save a planet where black people are being shot in the street at fourteen for nothing?
Anyway, this Kalief documentary – I wanted to see who made it. I’m always interested in who made something.
I want to see women making stuff about gender, and PoC making films about race, because those are the only voices that count on those issues. And once we’re at a point where the oppressed are supported in producing their own content THAT’S the point where others can get involved.
Since 9/11 there have been a shitload of films and dramas about Islam and Islamic fundamentalism and I wish you the very best of luck finding Muslim contribution to that production extending anywhere further than translations, or playing the terrorists.
The answer is Jay-Z.
Sorry, I’ve gone back to Kalief. Jay-Z is the executive producer on the Kalief Browder documentary. Which made me happy. Jay-Z was involved in the production of the documentary, which is progressive and made me feel better about consuming it.
Of course, there were also white people involved. Another Executive Producer. The sort of white Executive Producer who has to be involved or it doesn’t get made. A liberal, active Democrat who’s made some important films and someone a lot of liberal America considers a hero.
Harvey’s been accused this week of the sexual abuse and exploitation of young women, many of whom were colleagues and this abuse is alleged to span thirty years.
For me, the thing that’s important is always the response.
In the coming months you’ll have people saying – and they’ve already started – that there are more rapists on the Right and that this is part of an orchestrated attempt to bring someone of political value down. And there will be happy fascists as a consequence of this story, no doubt.
But fuck that. If this story is proven to be true -and Weinstein has already admitted to inappropriate behaviour, though disputes some of the claims – then it’s your duty to condemn and disassociate and not fund a career that has involved deliberate sexual violence.
There are occasions and situations where sometimes one code of ethics and another code of ethics clash.
O.J. Simpson is a case in point.
White people enraged at the support of O.J. from the black community in an L.A. riot climate when Rodney King is dragged from his car and beaten by policemen with video evidence and the cop that arrests O.J. is a notorious, documented violent racist thug.
White people are still incredulous. And that’s the power of privilege.
And in a different vein, I still think Cantona kicking the Palace fan is majestic. Majestic. A personal life highlight.
Weinstein isn’t subject to these rules. And I have to accept that neither is Morrissey. Nor, for that matter, is Brando whom was recently alleged to have engaged in an actual sexual assault in Last Tango in Paris, ruining both him and the film for me.
It’s lamentable when people who’ve done important things let you down.
Sometimes it’s more than lamentable. Sometimes it even takes away part of your own identity.
Nonetheless, don’t let your ethics be swayed by a brilliant album, or life-changing film.
No-one made that deplorable little fucker take his dick out in hotel rooms. He’s not a dinosaur, who needs to work through his issues. He’s a sexual predator, high on power and Ashley Judd is the real fucking hero in that picture.
That being said, just you behave yourself, Dolly.