It’s cinema awards season, and in the two weeks since the incendiary Golden Globes 2020 ceremony, as the host-less Oscars were announced, there happened a shift. Less to do with cinema, more to do with culture as an elite sport, and how this never works out, in the long run.
As the birth of the talkies was probably when we as global village citizens exchanged worshiping royalty for celebrity, people pretending to be rather than born into being, cinema seems the right temple to start dismantling false idols. Rituals of royalty, as well as the notion of royalty, itself, coasting for so long on the seemingly inherent human need for divinity made flesh, suddenly substituted by all those beautiful faces on the silver screen, larger than life, with the right moves & flawless lighting, becoming the new avatars of this longing for a life sublime.
Anyone could grow up to be a movie star, in theory. That was progress.
Through celebrity adoration the public is essentially experiencing their own heroic journeys by proxy, so deep down no wonder they feel robbed when fooled. The advent of tabloids, and then reality shows, as scavengers following the caravan, mere harbingers of dead dreams & failed expectations.
The human need for a pedestal is to look up to something that is desired, and ultimately, to be achieved. That particular social contract breaks when the chosen begin to look down at the rabble in complete disdain. If in doubt, read up on the French Revolution. And have some cake.
Except the celebs & new royalty aren’t living the hero’s journey, either, it’s all make-believe. As with royal duties, most of celebrity daily routine is staged. In an era of representation over substance, it’s illogical and slightly disingenuous to ask of celebrities to become more real, as the very nature of pure fame is to be elevated over the rest of humanity, for no reason other than a better access to visibility. This has little to do with anyone’s talent and efforts. If it did, our mega celebrities would also be surgeons, teachers & engineers, but most these everyday heroes receive is a Warholian ounce of fame, 15 minutes on the daily news cycle. Hardly a speck on a Clooney tuxedo. It is the tyranny of being special purely for being wonderfully presentational that’s the devil in the deck. Fame gives a huge amount of leverage to a bunch of people with place cards as opinions – and make no mistake, they still have a right to voice them, but they lack the gravitas required for the world microphone as magnifier. And that, in 2020, suddenly becomes a problem. In a good way. Eventually.
Other than a few previous rumbles, the real powers in society hereto remained relatively safe from globally televised public ridicule. The ones with the ability to exploit entire societies, like multinational companies, and such entities. So the fact that in his roast to end all roasts the host of the 2020 Golden Globes, fifth time lucky Ricky Gervais, went after these big guns too, made for eight golden minutes of television, in an unquestionably game-changing monologue of pure anarchist glee. The equally fascinating part was seeing who among the golden crowd was the cool number, and actually laughed at themselves. A small few.
Then came the social media and press aftermath – punditry, miscommunication & backpedaling. The mainstream liberal press, in a bit of a shell-shock in the last few years, accused Gervais of pandering to the alt right (i.e. basic populism). Gervais called their bluff, expressing amusement at how teasing millionaires and a group of supremely privileged people could ever be right wing. The actual US right then embraced Ricky for rocking the liberal boat, savaging the left for its hypocrisy, also colossally missing the point (he supports Labour) – the majority of people in that room have little to do with true left, they just like to sound that way. It pays to do so.
Maybe this is why free speech somehow became a problem with the global liberal, whose actual core value it should be. The totalitarian tendency on the left of the political spectrum has always been spurred by careerists, opportunists & sycophants, as tragically evidenced in history. To paraphrase comrade Lenin – it’s the rotters on our team that will be the death of us.
All this made me dumbstruck, witnessing some sort of history of the medium being made, but equally unsure on where we go in said medium from here.
It’s not that the world does not need a good set of words offering solid direction, it’s that suddenly who makes that (free) speech counts again. Integrity over presentation. And that’s not a bad thing. Not at all.
Something snapped that night. A gentlemen’s agreement of sorts. The elevated with not much merit were to pretend they care, and we, the public, were to pretend they have enough merit for us to care. This contract is now made null and void. The consequences are yet to come.
Honestly, Hollywood does so much better when simply admitting it’s Babylon.