BY NICK JOHNS
When your child tells you that they’re not off to university but are going to acting school instead, one’s heart drops. You know the chances of them becoming a well-paid Hollywood or television actor are close to zero. Nonetheless, you smile. You love them, after all.
Acting or singing as careers are most often voyages to nowhere; full of hope and angst; famine and feast; most often a perennial dearth.
Acting school was the destination of some of the pleasantest people at my school yet ranked alongside joining the army or discovering a sudden vocation for the priesthood as second-rate alternatives for the cerebrally less well-off.
Those actors, actresses and singers who do make it are the superstars of the planet. The likes of Clooney, Jolie, Roberts, Theron, DiCaprio, Hopkins and Matt Damon live like Kings and Queens of the Universe and have the red carpet rolled out for them wherever they go. Some, like Jolie and Clooney, are opinionated social justice warriors, while others, like Morgan Freeman, have a penchant for destroying social justice warriors.
When this weekend the Welsh actor Michael Sheen announced in The Times Magazine his plans to focus more on political activism in his home town of Port Talbot, the quotation was greeted with pats on the back and derision in equal quantities. Many did a double take, wondering what on earth a 76-year-old American from Apocalypse Now would be getting up to in Port Talbot before realising that Michael is certainly not Martin.
On the 18th December, Sheen tweeted “Before this gets ridiculous I said I’m thinking I might start acting less and maybe even stop for a while at some point but don’t know yet”.
The public record shows Sheen is yet another actor who has been outspoken about politics in the past. In 2016 he claimed ‘Brexit’s message appealed to abandoned communities’ in a Guardian interview with Leftist talking head Owen Jones.
The phenomenon of Singers, Actors, Actresses, Presenters and other Celebs becoming political activists seems to be mostly an American import to Britain. Britain now has its fair share of this annoying breed, who are utterly unqualified to open their mouths about political matters. They are not Billy Braggs or Tony Robinsons nor even Donald Trumps who have immersed themselves in politics for a lifetime to such an extent that they could soap-box on almost any political subject.
Just as we don’t give a damn what Eddie the Eagle thinks about proportional representation, why should we give a damn about what millionaire Charlotte Church thinks about the Tories or Lily Allen thinks about child refugees?
These unqualified luvvies argue their fame simply must be used to highlight vital issues but in a press environment not dissimilar to shark feeding time at Sea Life, they are short-sighted thinking that stories won’t be spotlighted anyway.
The problem comes when you stick a Marmite celeb in an important debate. Eddie Izzard springs to mind. Unquestionably he hindered the Remain campaign. Just as Meryl Streep’s ecstatic scream hindered Hilary Clinton’s 2016 US Election campaign.
In the UK, Michael Sheen is the best of a bad bunch of annoying actors, actresses, singers and celebs who poke their unqualified noses into politics and current affairs.
My personal list of the very worst offenders in Britain, in increasing order of smugness and cause of sheer aggravation, features below:
Michael Sheen – as discussed above. Little known. Seems like a nice bloke at heart.
Mark Rylance – Corbynista and anti-war activist. His wayward politics made up for by his superb acting in, amongst others, Wolf Hall and Bridge of Spies.
Emma Thompson – again, maddening how she wrongly described Britain as ‘a tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island’ during the Brexit debate. But a supreme actress.
Benedict Cumberbatch – notorious for stunning theatre-goers with speeches on stage attacking the UK government over the refugee crisis.
Martin Freeman – the Hobbit never to be forgiven for his support of Miliband and Labour at the 2015 election with this dire video.
Lily Allen – who met a wall of criticism for her tears in Calais when she apologised to migrants for Britain not accepting them.
Jo Brand – for recurrent support of Labour in vomit-inducing rants like this
Eddie Izzard – say no more. A Jonah for any kind of campaign.
Dan Snow – the great great grandson of PM Lloyd George, the son of the BBC’s Peter Snow (one of whose cousins is the Channel 4 news reporter Jon Snow) and married to Lady Edwina Grosvenor, second daughter of the recently late 6th Duke of Westminster. Victim of claims of nepotism for his BBC career. Snow played a central part in the failed United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum and has now set up the deluded More United to support so-called Progressives alongside Paddy “it’s not our country anymore” Ashdown.
Alan Cumming – when he heard Brexit happened, Cumming, the SNP stalwart declared “I was appalled when I heard the result and I have three words to sum it up. Stupid. English. People.” Say no more.
Russell Brand – notorious muppet.
Bono – Glamour Magazine added Bono to their list of Women of the year and it sparked some serious feminist outrage. He has been dubbed, “the face of fusion philanthropy”, both for his success enlisting powerful allies from a diverse spectrum of leaders in government, religious institutions, philanthropic organisations, popular media, and the business world, as well as for spearheading new organisational networks that bind global humanitarian relief with geopolitical activism and corporate commercial enterprise. Despite his philanthropy, he’s a dreadful gobshite.
Charlotte Church – yet another notorious muppet who should stick to singing if she’s going to open her mouth at all.
Bob Geldof – Bob’s been through a lot. But that is no excuse for taking it out on unemployed fishermen using expletives on the River Thames in a publicity stunt that assisted in the defeat of Remain.
Hugh Grant – How anyone can possibly join that Hacked Off rabble is beyond me. Especially when he was busted so divinely in the past. Arch hypocrite and nasty to boot.