Saturday, 9 April 2011

I do wish left-wing creatives would shut up so I could go on enjoying their work

For me, it started forty years ago, when Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland appeared on Parkinson and, in matching monotones, delivered humourless, left-wing, anti-American propaganda through their effulgent hippie moustaches.

Since that nauseating performance, I have never been able to watch Elliot Gould on the screen without recalling what an arse he is (besides being  a truly dreadful actor). I eventually forgave Donald Sutherland, because he can act, but then he gave an interview in which – and I’m not making this up – he said he’d once been so in love with a woman that he couldn’t bear to be more than three feet away from her at any time . The lugubrious Canadian was cast into outer darkness once more, because I couldn’t watch him without wondering exactly what he did when his lady-friend needed to “go”.

Since then, dozens have followed: Vanessa Redgrave and her dreadful brother, Corin. Emma Thompson. Richard Wilson. Stephen Fry. Whenever I see (or saw) them acting, it’s as if a huge neon sign reading “SILLY LEFTIE” starts flashing in my head, making concentration impossible. 

As soon as I realised that David Tennant was a screaming leftie of the particularly malign, self-righteous, hectoring Scottish variety, I could no longer bear to watch him. To be fair, he’d been irritating enough to begin with, and you didn’t need to be particularly astute to realise that Dr Whowas unvarnished New Labour propaganda – but the relish with which this blister delivered all those compassionate liberal sentiments made me want to hurl.(Didn’t he once say that right-wing actors were no good at acting because they weren’t compassionate enough?)

Cross my heart and hope to die, I will never watch another Sean Penn film, having heard the political drivel that issues from his foolish mouth. Every time I catch him on the screen, I imagine him slogging down some leech-infested river hauling his broken-down rescue boat to New Orleans, like Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. It’s hard to suspend disbelief when an inner voice is constantly shouting “THIS MAN’S A BLOODY IDIOT!” Now, I’m not an admirer of Penn’s acting in any case, so that’s no hardship, but I’m going to find it harder to take Colin Firth seriously after he came out as a committed LibDem. I mean, for goodness’ sake!

And then there’s Sir Patrick Stewart, (whom I remember with great fondness as Sejanus in I, Claudius and in his non-speaking role as Karla inTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) loftily announcing this week that Art Council funding cuts are “unnecessary”, when what he meant was “very annoying to me and other distinguished members of the cultural/political elite, darling, mwah-mwah!”

And, of course, it’s not only confined to actors. Believe it or not, I used to find Eddie Izzard quite amusing, despite the tedious transvestism – but then he revealed himself to be the dullest sort of Labour supporter, even using part of his stage act three years ago to mount a full-scale assault onMargaret Thatcher (I hear he’s intending to give Disraeli a right kicking next time out). All I’ve seen of him since then is an appearance on QI, where, despite his fellow leftie panellists willing him to be funny, he laid an enormous egg. (I forgive Harry Enfield his leftism, because he’s always been that way inclined, he doesn’t tend to talk about it in public, and he once approached Peter Mandelson at a No. 10 reception with the words, “You’re awful and everyone hates you – why don’t you resign?”)

I was never a huge J.K. Rowling fan, but when she donated £1m to Labour in 2008 because of Gordon Brown’s huge success in tackling child poverty (huh?) and because David Cameron was proposing tax breaks for married couples (yes, those married couples - what swine!) I resolved never to read another word the silly woman ever wrote, despite Gordon Brown assuring me that she was “one of the world’s greatest ever authors” (and I bet he’s read ‘em all).

Having massively enjoyed Zadie Smith’s White Teeth when I read it for the first time earlier this year, I had been intending to read her second novelThe Autograph Man – but after her disgustingly dishonest attack on Etonians for closing Willesden Library (which isn’t closing in any case), forget it! (How anyone who writes as well and as intelligently as she does could produce the sort of moronic drool which with she insulted Today Programme listeners is a genuine mystery.)

I don’t choose to read a novel based on the politics of the writer: in fact, I prefer not to know what their politics are by the time I’ve finished their books. Kingsley Amis and Evelyn Waugh weren’t funny because they were right-wing (although it undoubtedly helps). I don’t want my knowledge of an actor’s political views interfering with my enjoyment of their performance. And once a comedian lets his or her politics define their material (i.e. every comic who ever appears on Radio 4) they’ve lost me (ditto their sexuality).

Perhaps I’d be more sympathetic if any of these poseurs were actually risking anything by coming out of the political closet.


  1. Not just politics…I haven’t been able to watch Jeremy irons act since he said that when his son was 12 he was “like a god” and I can’t watch Marlon Brando films now without recalling the time he sent up a pseudo-native American squaw to collect his Oscar…or Peter Wyngarde after he was caught waggling his old chap at another man through a hole in the partition of a public toilet and I learned his name is acting circles was Petunia Winegum. The Godfather I can live without, but Jason King, that’s a cruel blow.
    Monday, April 11, 2011 - 12:28 AM

  2. There is a good article in this week's Spectator by Michael Henderson "Acting Up. Simon West embodies luvvie stupidity about arts funding"] which makes the same point.

    West told the Guardian "The Conservatives are frightened of anything that educates and enlightens people - such as theatre. They want to preserve the social distinctions that exist between the rich and poor." Polly Toynbee weighed in with the opinion that the Tories are undoing all the glorious work of Labour whose years in office had brought " a golden era to the arts".

    Like most leftie nincompoops, she doesn't qualify her sweeping generalisation with any illustrations. This Golden Era seems to have passed me by. To go back to the theatre, I had a look at the current London Theatre listings. Out of 32 productions, 16 were musicals [17 when the sainted Bono finally gets his musical "Spider Man" off life support] and there are two Coward and one Rattigan revival plus "The Mousetrap". Do these musicals represent the golden era or are they just the crap prolefeed that the public has grown accustomed to? Anyway, try and read the article.

    Harumphrey. Peter Wyngarde. I remember this incident very well. In Wyngarde's cubicle the police found a bag [a gym bag?] containing a cordless Black&Decker, several drill bits and quantities of sandpaper [for smoothing down the edges of the aperture]. The startled occupant of the adjoining cubicle panicked when Wyngarde introduced his tumescent member so he rolled up his magazine and whacked it several times. The actor required extensive corrective surgery. Thanks for reminding me about this.
    Monday, April 11, 2011 - 07:40 PM