Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Mickey Mouse condemns Tibetans for not wanting to be Chinese

In a series of pugnacious speeches during his tour of China this week, the famous cartoon animal Mickey Mouse called upon the Dalai Lama and his supporters to denounce their absurd, outdated and colonialist view that Tibet is a sovereign nation with a right to self-determination, and instead to accept that the country is a legitimate Chinese territory.
Wearing his trademark white gloves, yellow shoes and red shorts with two big buttons on the front, the popular animated rodent accused those who campaign for Tibetan autonomy of stoking the fires of war, and clinging to ludicrous and archaic notions.

None of this is true, of course.
But why should it be less absurd when it's any other Hollywood pillock doing pretty much the same thing?

When I first heard that Sean Penn had condemned the British occupation of the Falkland Islands in a series of frank and confrontational public statements that imply a willingness on Britain's part to let its soldiers die rather than relinquish outdated colonialist sensibilities, my first thought, if my memory is to be trusted, was something along the lines of "so what?"

In fact, if once again my memory is not betraying me, I'm pretty sure that "so what?" was my thought the second, third, fourth and twenty-seventh time I heard it too.
It was only when I realised that not everyone was laughing as hard and hearty as I was about the very idea that this little pipsqueak thinks he has the right to speak out about any subject at all, much less a serious one that he doesn't even understand the first thing about, that I realised there was a point worth making here.

You see, my curse is to belong to the last generation who not only don't automatically look to our minstrels and tumblers whenever we're short of an opinion or two, but who specifically rule such individuals out of the grown ups club, in the certainty that anyone who chooses to earn their money by leeching off people who work for a living and need a little entertainment once in a while are pretty much guaranteed to know nothing about anything. That's why they don't have real jobs in the first place.

And so it proves once again, as the popular wife-beater, star of the film Shanghai Surprise and several others I haven't seen either, and proud possessor of the world's least impressive moustache, has been hitting the headlines by opining that a country that has no historical connection with Argentina, is not in Argentinian waters, and has been a British territory since before Argentina even existed, is in fact called 'Las Malvinas', and is, somehow, a territory that British colonialists seized from the Argentines, before Argentina existed.
As such, he's been brownhatting the Argentine leaders this week and issuing a series of increasingly bizarre and illiterate statements ("there are clearly nuances of negotiations that have to be beneficial and understood between both parties"), all the while accepting the gracious hugs of those who invaded the country and instigated a war in which 255 British soldiers were killed, and many more maimed and wounded, at roughly the same time that Penn was earning more money than they did by making the film Fast Times At Ridgemont High like a big girl.

When it was pointed out that his description of the British interest in the islands as "colonialist, ludicrous and archaic" was meaningless, as the islands were uninhabited when the British settled there (unlike Argentina when it was colonised), he responded: "My oh my, aren't people sensitive to the world colonialism, particularly those who implement colonialism."
You need a very particular kind of moron to loudly espouse a meaningless opinion in a high moral tone on a subject of which they know literally nothing, but it takes a hero of Sean Penn proportions to stick to it even after they've had the truth patiently explained to them in whole sentences and words with as few syllables in them as possible.

Penn (centre) at roughly the same time that 255 British soldiers died defending the freedom of the Falkland Islanders

Well, I know, it takes all sorts and all that sort of thing, and yes, it may even be that the world would be the poorer without a few idiots like Penn around, for colour and what have you.
Just so long as nobody takes them seriously, or keeps a straight face whenever they show their scowling puss in public.
After all, my opinions do not make news, nor do yours, or for that matter Ronnie Corbett's. So why should this dingaling be any different just because he laughably styles himself 'actor and activist'?
Beats me, but here's a picture of him getting all kissy-kissy with Hugo Chavez.

Penn loves Chavez, as well as Castro, Ahmedinejad and the IRA. He's not so keen on Bush and Cheney, having called for the imprisonment of both, along with anyone who calls Chavez a dictator.

In fact, my favourite Penn moment ever was this beautiful essay he released to the world media a while back, having presumably written it, read it back, perhaps read it to a trusted friend or two and then, somehow, thought to himself: "Yep, that's good enough to publish."
It's simply magnificent. No two sentences in a row make sense. Even the very first sentence is not actually a sentence at all. Even Chavez must have read it and thought "what is this maniac talking about?"
It's got everything: big laughs ("This is not a dictator supported by the wealthy classes, but rather, a president elected by the impoverished and at the service of the Venezuelan constitution, a document not unlike our own", "President Chavez and Venezuela have demonstrated a will toward diplomatic harmony"), stylish prose ("The current environment of passive U.S. citizen response provided by this lack of understanding and misleading information is one where the essential oversights of public opinion are effectively defaulted upon, and in exchange, a predisposition to accept U.S. intervention in Venezuela exists") and brilliantly original linguistic formulations ("enormously shared interests", "a systemic barrage of misreporting and context-shifting", "while our own cultural and constitutional conditioning would lead us to serious concerns in the powers of his office, there must be an informed adjustment to give our analyses a context that may extend beyond our borders").
I urge you to follow the link and wallow in its heroic guerrilla resistance assault upon the colonialist English language.
The pen is mightier than the sword indeed - except when it's Penn's pen.
Then it's just weirder.


New Brunswick Barry said...

Dear Mr. Bede, I agree with everything you say about the asinine Sean Penn, but I think you go too far when you say that "anyone who chooses to earn their money by leeching off people who work for a living and need a little entertainment once in a while are pretty much guaranteed to know nothing about anything. That's why they don't have real jobs in the first place." Those in the entertainment business are citizens the same as everyone else, and will have the same mix of interest in current events and opinions and knowledge about the world, ignorant or learned, as any other group -- though in their case, like academics, heavily slanted to the left.

My grandfather earned his living by writing songs, and had hundreds of them published in a long career (ca. 1905 to 1948) that certainly seemed like a real job to him and his family. And the lyrics of his songs are peppered with contemporary references to events and issues of his day that display any citizen's interest in and knowledge of such things. He doesn't strike me as having known nothing about anything.

You may know many useless types in show business circles -- fair enough. Your real beef is that the rest of us are inclined to take the views of celebrities more seriously than they deserve. Doesn't that rather make us the fools, not them?

The Venerable Bede said...

Well, of course, there was an element of deliberate exaggeration there for comic effect.
But to clarify: this observation was not the first I have made along these lines, but part of an ongoing thread in my posts, probably most clearly laid out here:

I always tend to assume I am having an ongoing conversation with my readers, rather than endlessly repeat the same points as qualification, and you have - quite fairly - misunderstood me a little here in consequence.

First, my objection is specifically to the proponents of modern popular culture, and the fires of my hatred are stoked above all else by my adoration of the popular culture of generations past.
I revere, study and listen regularly to the popular songs of the first half of the twentieth century, and I would be very interested to know who your grandfather was and what he wrote.

Second, there is nothing wrong with providing entertainment for money provided the entertainment you offer is sincere, worthy of exchange, and that the deal is performed with due humility on both sides.

What I object to is the strange shift in hierarchical relations that has taken place in the second half of the twentieth, and reached its hateful fruition today, whereby celebrities (and I really was referring to the performers here, whose talent - if they have any at all - is theirs by Darwinian accident, not the more creative individuals who work to provide them with a context: writers, craftsmen, producers etc) have become our new aristocracy, answerable to none, occasionally tossing their devoted servants a derisory and derisive bone of utterly worthless and incompetent 'work' and 'earning' vast sums of money, which they spend with conspicuous decadence and dissipation.
I wrote a post a little ways back about how the news media leapt to report that 'Lady Gaga' had issued a new video to accompany her new song: this was actual news. And you watch the thing, and it is just dripping with arrogance; it's hateful, pretentious, self-worshipping - and INCREDIBLY expensive. It begins with minute after nut-crushing minute of conspicuously costly imagery and vainglorious narration delivered with true aristocratic contempt by this utter nonentity, then, when the song finally starts, it's complete shit. The only part of the whole worthless enterprise on which no effort or thought of any kind was wasted at all was what is plainly the least important part of it: the song itself.

This, it seems to me, is evidence of a power shift, and, of a deal being reneged upon.
Given the Left's supposed hatred of corruption, inequality and the arrogant flaunting of unearned privilege, I find it ironic that the young are told to hate bankers and the landed gentry, but not to round up these clowns and guillotine them in the town square. They are everything that the court of Louis XVI was not.
Instead, the young merely seek, pathetically, to emulate them.


The Venerable Bede said...


Way back, as you know, performers were considered little better than prostitutes. In an age when most people worked hard or died, they had spotted a fascinating loophole: that such people gain enormous release from that life of toil by the imaginative distraction provided by entertainment. And so the class of entertainer was born. They travelled from town to town, were treated with a degree of contempt and suspicion (rogues and vagabonds, as the old phrase put it), and offered distraction in exchange for money.
And this was fine by me, just as all popular culture was fine by me, until midway through last century.
Until then, performers stressed their indebtedness to their audiences, prostrated themselves before them, thanked them, and expressed a deep humility that was no less meaningful for presumably being feigned.
It was an essential part of the deal.
Performers lack this now. They have worked out that we are their servants, not vice versa. So now, they are the contemptuous aristocracy, and their arrogance knows no bounds. Not only do they act as if our paying them is their right not our privilege, they reward our taxes with deliberately contemptuous work of no merit, and often drenched in self-pity, self-adoration, contempt, anger, hatred, violence and disdain.

This, coupled with the ignorance that is their general - but of course not exclusive or universal - lot makes them essentially hateful fugures to me.

Lastly, to pontificate on serious matters - not to hold, express or have the right to views, but to actually stand up and act as if yours is a voice the world must attend to - always seems funny to me if you are a pop star or someone who earns their living by dressing up and playing pretendy, even if the views expressed are a fraction as ludicrous and moronic as Penn's.

So this was what was informing my throwaway, jokey salvo on which you have commented - the intended aim of which could not have been further from your grandfather. Indeed it was, in a sense, fired in his name, and that of all the other craftsman of genuine talent and humility that Russell Brand and 'Lady Gaga' and Sean Penn so conspicuously do not represent.

Recusant said...

I'll go along with that Bede. The ability to stand on a mark, wear clothes from the dressing-up box and spout someone else's lines doesn't strike me as automatically making you a contemporary Socrates.

New Brunswick Barry said...

Thank you for the thoughtful response, Mr. Bede. As you were interested, my grandfather was the British music hall songwriter Fred Godfrey ("Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty" and "Bless 'Em All" are among his songs). I have a comprehensive website on him at

The Venerable Bede said...

Ah, well, then he has long been a hero of mine, though in common with probably most other people who knew his songs, I didn't know his name.
Wonderful, wonderful songs from my favourite era in popular music, and sung by the greatest entertainers we ever had: Come and Have a Drink at the Victory Arms, Oh! You Have No Idea, She Shall Have Music Wherever She Goes, Why Can't We Have the Sea In London?

And so many appetising titles of songs I curse myself for not knowing:

Giving a Donkey a Strawberry

Tony! Tony! Send a Marconigram

I Love To Hear You, Joan, Playing the Saxophone

You're Some Tram Conductor Girl

... and so many others!

I've been enjoying the website ever since you posted the link. Those gorgeous, evocative sheet music covers!
And I can't tell you what a delight it was to discover that 'The Kangaroo Hop' is an authentic music hall number, and not, as I had supposed, a pastiche written especially for the Gene Wilder film. (I remember being similarly amazed when I discovered that Bessie Bellwood was a real singer: that strange film just becomes more and more admirable! I don't think FG gets a namecheck in the credits, though, does he? I'll have to dig out my copy and check.)

One question: under the reference to 'I Parted My Hair In The Middle' in the song index, it says: "this may be an error, as Formby Sr is not known to have recorded any Godfrey songs".
What may be an error: that he performed this song, or that Godfrey wrote it?
GF certainly performed it: it's one of my favourites.

New Brunswick Barry said...

Mr. Bede, I'm delighted that you are enjoying Fred's songs. It's amazing to me that some of them are still remembered more than a century after they were written.

Sorry for the ambiguous sentence about the Formby Sr. reference. Looks like I'll have to do massage the text a bit. What I meant was that Formby Sr. is not known to have recorded any Godfrey songs, and thus "I Parted My Hair..." , which is most definitely a Formby Sr. song as you say, seems to be erroneously credited to Fred in one of the sources I checked.

hellosnackbar said...

Sean Penn is I believe a long term contrarian who loves the publicity associated with his jaundiced thinking.
It annoys me when partially educated show biz personalities
embrace leftist halfwits.
One wonders whether it's to attract the sympathy of modern
cultural psychologists?
Love the picture of him with the bikini babes.
I wonder if he thought about taking some oestrogen to grow some tits to match?