Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why do we respect actors, comedians and film stars but hold politicians in contempt?

David Aaronovitch is on good form today. He’s taking a pop at self-important satirists such as Armando Iannucci. And they certainly deserve it!

He quotes Iannucci pontificating thus: “I find myself stepping into that gap” – that gap being the one left by stupid or mendacious politicians and our allegedly craven press. Similarly Alan Bennett rails against student fees but has no clue about how else universal higher education (as distinct from the higher education only for an elite 3% like what he got) might be funded. He apparently declared that “... it’s morally wrong to expect students to get into debt.” The inference being that it’s fine for people on low wages to get into debt at loan shark rates but for someone who might actually be able to afford the repayments to be forced to take out a loan (at amazingly advantageous rates and knowing that it’ll be written off if their income remains low) is not.

But, best of all, Aaronovitch lays into Sir David Hare’s play about deaths on the railways. Called “The Permanent Way” it was performed at the National Theatre where I went (by train) to see it. I have never felt more like shouting “rubbish”! The bit that really got to me was the claim that ‘nothing works’ in Britain. The truth is that pretty well everything does. But my comment on the theatre’s message-board failed to bring the luvvies to their senses. And, going to find that link, I notice that the NT is giving a platform (and a nice dollop of taxpayers cash) to Clare Short no doubt so she can further rubbish the Party that gave her her fame – arrrg!

It’s terribly easy to latch onto a supposed ill in our comfortable society and to puff it up into a shocking scandal. And so difficult to suggest a workable solution or to change anything. ‘Bring me solutions, not problems’ may be a tired cliché but that doesn’t mean it’s not sometimes apt.

It’s good that satire exists, and is allowed to exist. It helps prevent our politicians becoming too full of themselves. But when satirists become as smug and pompous and so much part of the mainstream as today’s have, perhaps we should start to fret a little...

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