Features Australia

Cursed by their own art

1 December 2018

9:00 AM

1 December 2018

9:00 AM

Why do all our favourite, talented (e.g. Jim Carrey, Richard Gere), much acclaimed film stars (e.g. Meryl Streep, Sally Field) and actors of lesser fame get so emotionally extreme politically – especially about Donald Trump? Why is it that they can deliver performances to move us with the humanity of their characters, bring us to tears even, yet behave like ugly thugs wanting to smash him in the face (Robert De Niro), decapitate him (Kathy Griffin), shoot him (Johnny Depp) or blow him up in the White House (Madonna)?

Perhaps it’s because actors singers, performers and artists of all kinds live by their emotions, which is exactly the element on which the political Left lives its daily life. They live the Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil version of the lyrics to the song ‘Feelings’:

Feelings

Nothing more than feelings

Trying to forget my

Feelings of hate

Imagine

Beating on your face

Trying to forget my

Feelings of hate

Emotions overwhelmed them when Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the Presidential elections in November 2016. We saw masses of weeping Democrat voters, some even screaming and falling to the ground. Those kinds of displays of emotion (usually exhibited in kindergartens) continue to motor their political activities and thoughts. Nothing wrong with actors acting movingly; that’s one of the reasons I enjoy movies, theatre and opera.

But if that notion explains Hollywood’s collective tantrum, it also applies to the touchy-feely rest of the Left. When then Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was finally confirmed (6 October, 2018) to sit on the Supreme Court by a majority in the US Senate, crowds of mostly women and all of them ‘feeling’ (without evidence) that Kavanaugh was a sexual predator, stormed the Supreme Court building, screaming and clawing at its giant oak doors with their fingernails. Feelings not facts were what drove those actions. It reminded me of that aphorism, life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think.

The fact that actors and performers (and to a lesser extent all other so-called creatives), more than any other profession, make a career out of summoning up the whole gamut of emotions helps explain why their every daily experience is framed in the glow of some emotion or other. But we can and should still admire and appreciate the work of actors whose politics are skewed to the left, even if ours are skewed to the right. We have to separate the actor from the political animal and let ourselves enjoy their performances while understanding that their art is their curse.


And the tragedy expands: the powerful anti-Trump emotions unleashed by the Left and fuelled by an apoplectic mainstream media are burning the platform on which Democrats might promote actual policies. The angst has twisted the party, frozen its leadership development and emasculated its reputation for serious politics. All they have is hatred for Trump. That hatred feeds on itself, demeans the entire left of politics and seems – despite relentless media negativism – to be counter-productive to boot if Trump’s rising approval ratings – 4 in 10 approve of his performance (Pew Research) – are any guide.

To a very large extent, it is this same emotion-driven world view that explains the absence of rational and scientifically factual discussion about ‘climate change’. Especially since Al Gore’s first movie on the subject, An Inconvenient Truth (2006), fear has been the catalyst. Fear is still the tool that alarmist warmists harness to whip up antipathy to carbon dioxide, to demonise coal, and to pay indulgences to Gaia by sacrifice. Goats and virgins are safe, but the rest of us must suffer.

So effective is this campaign of fear and indoctrination that even those who are not really sold on it still tend to refer to ‘clean energy’ as something different from clean, life-giving carbon dioxide-emitting energy generated by fossil fuels. I hate to use the expression ‘brain- washed’ but can think of no better example of it.

Likewise, identity politics is a feverish cauldron of emotions which coalesce around feelings of victimhood and offence-taking – not necessarily your own, but those you perceive as minorities needing your protection. That paternalistic impulse, for example, drives local councils to take offence on behalf of Aboriginal Australians when they try to change the date of Australia Day (after all these years). It feels right to do so.

Worst of all, relying on feelings as a basis for enacting laws is dangerously undemocratic. Indeed, anti-democratic. The most egregious example is the continued existence of the ‘offence’ based Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which neither major party has the guts to improve or remove entirely. Fear of a backlash from the minorities again sways public policy – as it does in the energy policy sector.

Taken together with the legalisation of same-sex marriage, Australia has a toxic framework that denies citizens the most basic democratic rights – and not just notionally but in hard, economic terms, as per the example of White, the wedding magazine, bullied into closure last week for choosing not to include gay weddings in its editorial coverage. It is the ‘hurt feelings’ of gay activists that were stirred by its perfectly legal business behaviour; feelings that overcame reason and common decency.

It is only the latest example, but a potent one; will anyone be held accountable for the loss of livelihoods for those relying on the publication and its production?

It is ‘hurt feelings’ that prompted staunchly anti-Semitic Muslim states Indonesia and Malaysia to grandstand about the possibility that Australia may move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem. Muslims feel they have a right to Jerusalem – but even (some) Muslims accept that West Jerusalem would always remain Israel’s capital, even in the realisation of a two-state solution, that mirage in the Middle East. So not only is it ‘hurt feelings’ but fake hurt feelings… an excuse to scold the supporters of Israel. Please let us not feel we have to make them feel better.

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