Monday, 21 December 2009
Shocking and Not Shocking
Was reading Wikipedia recently and came across two articles about two figures in popular culture. The first was Stanley Kubrick, whose film The Shining I’ve just ambivalently ordered. I’ve often been interested in the blurring of boundaries between directors and cinematographers, and I tend to think of Kubrick as a master cinematographer rather than as a master director (and for any smartarses who want to quote David Mamet: if you come out of a film and even the cinematography’s crap, you know you’ve seen a Mamet film).
The Shining is probably much as I remember it, a towering performance (ham or no ham) by Jack Nicholson but apart from that, typical Kubrick: gorgeous photography but with a dull, pompous script. The only really good Kubrick film overall that I’ve seen was A Clockwork Orange and perhaps it’s no coincidence that he didn’t really write the script (they read the novel on set and then thought of filming).
However, I’m digressing somewhat. When I read his wiki page, it didn’t really shock me to read that he was economically on the far right and was fairly resigned about warfare. Perhaps this is because Kubrick’s vision was intrinsically dark and anti-humanistic. His right-libertarian views were quite similar to Frank Zappa’s and maybe it is due to America's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural composition, but Americans have traditionally had less of a focus on their poor.
Which is not admirable in itself, yet i would say at least Stan and Frank saved themselves from self-betrayal.
Reading this, I was really horrified. I'm not a great fan of Waters or Pink Floyd, but say it ain't so? The band that touched us all with The Wall and its portrait of urban poverty performing for the countryside alliance!
I accept that animal rights is a complex issue, but it goes deeper than the matter of foxhunting (which I find a sickening idea in itself), but a deeper trend to see our plutocracy as some kind of true force for freedom in Britain. I accept that battery farming is probably crueler, but I can't imagine anyone being seen as some kind of libertarian Lohengrin for saying battery farming misery is worth bargain chicken drumsticks. Whilst I am pleased they've banned foxhunting, my views on the countryside alliance are not so much formed by this as by the way they are portrayed as guardians of liberty.
Just look at The Tatler's portrayal of Bryan Ferry's son as a Kensington and Chelsea Solzhenitsyn for being obnoxious to people in his quest to re-legalise tearing fluffy ginger quadrupeds to pieces. I can sleep soundly knowing that the CCTV saturated/DNA database/ ID card/tasering police state they're constructing will be stopped in its tracks by his heroic pursuit of the freedom to gloat over a dismembered fox. (And incidentally, another one for the evolutionistas. His mum is a right proper aristocrat and she was arrested after she parked her car in the middle of the road and left it locked when a police van was RIGHT BEHIND HER. I mean I'm not 'the cream of society' but that really is bloody thick).
Yet this is part of a wider picture by which our civil liberties are being flushed down the toilet whilst selfish toffs are praised as freedom fighters because... well, they like ripping animals to pieces and they support the right to be selfish against the state. Just look at Boris Johnson, who is portrayed as some kind of Periclean libertarian?
Boris's reputation for freedom like the right's in general seems to be based on the Hayekian argument that free enterprise is the beginning and end of freedom. Which is a pretty good laugh for we quasi-war-nerds who know that the Nazis lost because their corporatist system gave their contracts to private sector companies who produced the coolest and most savage (if not the most efficient) military hardware. In tactical terms they'd have been better off following uncle Joe and nationalising the whole thing, but boy did the Nazi private sector not produce some pretty gnarly stuff.
Yet the role of IG Farben, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Henschel and Son, Krupp etc of supplying the hardware of the Nazi regime is either too inconvenient, too obscure or too interesting for our Hayekian overlords who patronise market fanatics as lovers of freedom regardless of their actual human rights record (look at the gushing praise for Pinochet and Yeltsin).
However, whilst our hegemony of near identical journalists continue to heap praise on the far right concept of freedom as the only viable one, we are slipping into a police state. As for the economic left of which Waters was once a part, it's decline has been even sharper, largely because it was based on the idea that caring for the poor could occur without taxation. His collaborator Gerlad Scarfe has been moving onto similar territory: it was fine for the trendy left to attack Thatcherism, but that's not quite the same as supporting an economic left.
Yet the shock that Waters who wrote an album portraying the rich as (literal), capitalist pigs has metamorphosed into Victor Hazel was nothing compared to the shock I felt when I read that Eric Clapton (yes, Eric Clapton) also performed for The Countryside Alliance!
Again, I realise that this may sound a bit weird, given that I know he endorsed Enoch Powell. Yet I also think (though I am prepared to be proven wrong) that Powell was not the quasi-Fascist he is often portayed as but someone whose message was delivered in the wrong words at the wrong time (and it was adopted by the wrong people).
Yet the thought of Clapton supporting the countryside alliance is somehow even more disturbing for me, because of what the CA represents. Not that I really care much about the CA in itself, but because it represent the corrosion of ideals. One could almost call it a compromise with utopia: they've found their 'utopia' amongst the aristocracy.
I recently bought a bargain price Cream CD. Whilst I dislike the way that Jack Bruce has been written out of the Cream story (not to mention Ginger Baker), I possibly wouldn't have bought it if I'd known Clapton would turn into such a tragic old fart.
From now on I'll never say a bad word about Paul McCartney. Ever again. No matter how pompous he becomes. Or how much he bullies Ringo.