THE French have a saying, l’esprit de l’escalier — staircase wit — which sums up that feeling you get when you think of an idea or a response, but too late in the day to use it.
Typically, you have thought of a great, witty riposte to that barbed remark aimed at you which would skewer your rival — but only after you’ve left the room and are on the way upstairs to bed. Doh, indeed.
I had that sense of l’esprit de l’escalier when I realised I had completed all my New Year resolutions and missed out on a really, really big one.
Namely, why we really must make 2020 the year when we finally turn our backs on the cult of celebrity; when we stop listening to those actors, singers and comedians who have a talent for stage and screen but who know far less about the world and real life than us mere mortals — and actually start thinking for ourselves.
At the risk of sounding like a revolutionary, we should stop swallowing the opinions and advice of Hollywood stars as though they are any more important than our own, and start, you know, weighing up the facts for ourselves, and forming our own views.
A new year is the ideal time to do this, as the next two months will be dominated by the luvvie awards season, when people who make a living out of pretending to be someone else suddenly take on the mantle of democratically elected leaders and lecture us all on every issue under the sun.
You know the drill by now: Really edgy and brave stuff to utter in a roomful of multi-millionaire faux liberals, like: Donald Trump is a war criminal/moron/disgrace to humanity (delete where applicable). Or: Global warming is real and we must act now (yeah, thanks for your concern, before you head off to the Caribbean on your private jet).
That’s the thing about these ‘woke’ celebrities: It’s always a soundbite founded on gross hypocrisy: Do as I say, not as I do.
And yet large portions of the world seem to lap it up, especially on social media. They whoop and holler, and like and share, and clap like deranged sea-lions as these stars come out with their preachy slogans about how the world is such an awful place.
I was reminded of my loathing for this incessant celebrity worship when I saw the brilliant monologue by comedian Ricky Gervais ahead of the Golden Globes — the first major back-slapping awards gig of the year, but, sadly, for us mere mortals, not the last.
The man behind The Office skewered the hypocrisy of the acting stars in the room with a long list of wonderful one-liners.
“Let’s have a laugh at your expense,” Gervais started off — and they can’t say they weren’t warned, as he proceeded to poke fun at all and sundry for the benefit of the viewing public.
At one point, the host told the stunned room: “You say you’re ‘woke’ but the companies you work for in China — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”
In a wonderful denouement, he stated: “So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
Had I been watching that live on TV in the early hours of Monday, I’d have given Gervais a standing ovation. And then headed to bed before the luvvies could have their three hours in the spotlight.
What Gervais said needed to be said, but don’t expect Hollywood’s big shots to change their tune. It’s up to the likes of you and I to ignore their attention-seeking comments about politics, world economics, climate change, or whatever else they are suddenly deemed experts on because they have picked up a gong on stage.
Indeed, the celebs at last weekend’s Golden Globes were still falling over themselves to lecture the public.
Showing she had turned a deaf ear to Gervais’s advice, actress Michelle Williams decided the stage of a showbiz award ceremony was a fitting place to present her views on abortion.
Whatever your opinion on this sensitive issue, surely that is not the place to espouse them?
Bizarrely, Williams justified her decision to speak out by stating that the award she had received recognised not only the actor’s choices they had made on-screen but also “the education they pursued, the training they sought, the hours they put in.”
Well, not really. Williams won purely for her fantastic performance in Fosse/Verdon, not because of the contents of her CV, or her own personal life decisions.
Then we had the comments by fashion designer Stella McCartney, who seemed to think actor Joaquin Phoenix was some kind of superhero, on top of winning a Golden Globe for his role in The Joker.
“This man is a winner,” tweeted Stella. The reason for her lavish praise? He had taken a decision to wear the same tuxedo “for the entire award season to reduce waste”.
My giddy aunt.
The lack of self-awareness of these stars beggars belief, doesn’t it? And didn’t Stella just drive a stake through the heart of her own industry there, at a time when some people are vowing to not buy a stitch of clothing in all 2020 in an attempt to save the planet?
It’s not just saving the planet, abortion, and Donald Trump that occupy our celebs’ thoughts.
When I watched Gervais’s speech, I spotted the very ‘woke’ Gwyneth Paltrow in the audience — even though she has taken a vow of absence from the acting profession to concentrate on her chosen career of, um, self-improvement of others.
This seems to involve a millionaire lecturing the planet on how to look and feel a million dollars without, er, having a million dollars.
It seems there is no area of life that Paltrow doesn’t intrude...
As one critic said of her this week: “Imagine wanting sex advice from Gwyneth Paltrow instead of, you know, the legions of qualified professionals. The cult of celebrity and ‘wellness’ is so weird.”
You got that right!
The bad news is that the Golden Globes are just the tip of an iceberg of back-slapping and pontificating from actors, singers and associated hangers-on — all of whom are falling over themselves to tell us how to live our lives.
It all concludes with that red carpet of wokeness itself: The Oscars
Did you know that the first ever Oscars ceremony, way back in 1929, lasted for just 15 minutes?
There were 12 awards handed out that night — so presumably the winners came up, collected their gongs, and sat back down again.
Hmmm, an interesting concept. Wonder if it could catch on again.