Yesterday 'actor' Ewan McGregor refused to do a TV interview promoting his latest film, because one of the interviewers had been so dismissive of the spate of 'women's marches' over the previous weekend, Ewan couldn't stomach being close to the egotistical presenter. The presenter then in 'Trumpton' style, fired off a series of tweets slagging off the actor for having integrity. The presenter had commented during the programme that Ewan was after all just an 'actor' there to promote his film. Previous tweets by this presenter had made it really clear that he felt that actors should simply be unopinionated puppets, who could entertain the masses, but who had no place to politicise as part of their art.
Well he has a point hasn't he? I mean it's just a shame that nobody had mentioned that to EVERY great maker of theatre down the ages. From Brecht to Mozart, from Stoppard to Gilbert and Sullivan hasn't art always been a mixture of entertainment, escapism, but also opinion?
I work in the twirly world of Musical Theatre, yet every show that I've done has somehow educated and honed my political opinion. I've also learned (sadly) that the one thing that you can be sure about in this crazy world, is that history will repeat itself. There never was 'a war to end all wars'. . . nor I suspect will there ever be (more's the pity).
I've also lived long enough to see history repeating itself. On a simplistic level, we see it with each new 'vintage' fashion revival. I am now seeing my students coming into college, on trend, with me being devastated that I emptied my wardrobe of the identical items some 30 years ago (clearly deluded that I could ever fit into the aforementioned items again). Think how trendy I could be (in my head at least).
In other words . . . as an intelligent woman (and I guess in this particular blog, my gender is an issue), and as an artist, surely I have the right to make some decisions about how I promote myself and my art? I'm all for healthy debate - but should I, in clear consciousness, set myself to be used to feed someone's overinflated ego? I mean let's face it, this presenter has no more right than I to their opinion, so both are valid. However my 'ego' is fed by my work I guess, whereas people with clear narcassistic tendencies don't seem to know when they're 'full'. So like parasites on society they keep spewing out soundbites in a bid to promote . . . that's right. . . themselves.
I'm bored of hearing what a nice person so and so is, and that their public persona is so different. Why do we have a current breed of people determined to gain notoriety by projectile vomiting their pig headed opinions at us? Now the thing is (as you might have noticed), I categorically refuse to name the presenter, just like I refused to name the people that I was speaking about in this blog a while back, as these societal parasites feed off google counts. Everybody played into this idiot's hands yesterday RT'ing' his comments or quoting him directly from his twitter account.
Like his hero (and let's give credit where credit is due here...it is no mean feat even noticing that someone is snubbing you when your head is so firmly placed up the derriere of a certain President. . .you would think that the only thing that they'd notice is the smell of BS), and like another certain presenter, who also clambers for notoriety at any cost, they clearly care about the snub, that they're so quick to keep telling us that they care nothing about....or else why tweet about it at all?
Do we, as performers, have a right to use whatever platform we're given to make political statements? Er...yes! That's why I blog. It's to give myself a moveable stage, in which I can state my own opinions like a contemporary speaker's corner. So why the hell wouldn't I use a real 'stage' in the same manner.
We are living in dangerous times. The right are marching at a terrifying pace. In the US we have a President who seems to be determined to get those Executive Orders out there ASAP. Now admittedly he's probably more about the photo op than the intention of the Order, but nevertheless, things are being overturned at a radical pace. As someone who identifies as gay....that really concerns me. What's the next 'Christian' thing that this man (who appears to now identify himself as someone with a hotline to 'god' judging by his weather comments the other day) is going to do? As the mother of a toddler - this concerns me. What world is my son going to grow up in? I want to be able to turn to him in a few years time and say that I did everything that I could to stop this idiot nation....not sit on my hands and keep my head down.
In Europe the 'right' are gaining popularity, as disenfranchised people huddle together in groups looking for 'an answer...and believing the rhetoric that some of the leaders are shouting. Hell we saw it here.....we're about to experience the fall out from an identical situation.
The world is being forced into a state of 'frightened'. . . bullies are beginning to win. If we don't use our platforms then who the hell is going to? I'm uncensored by a government so I'm going to use that freedom to keep saying that artists not only have the right to be political, but I believe if they so wish (as it is not my right to compel), they also have an obligation.
At the college we always end up talking about politics (as much because I'm always shocked how uneducated my students are around the subject). We invariably end up with a healthy difference of opinion, but that's OK...that's called real life. I have no interest in working or indeed running 'Stepford college'...where freewill and 'fight' has been removed, or the right denied them because the place is 'mine....all mine' (cue evil laugh). I want to work in an environment where we all have opinions, all of our opinions are challenged (to ensure that we haven't just inherited an opinion), and then all of us have a right to shout them from the rafters.
Dangerous Daughters will be revived in September, my first years will get to learn all about the Suffragette movement. I will not be 'wiping' their memories of what they've learnt after the production. I will be hoping that the show will educate them to understand and value the importance of 'the vote'. Following through that logic, I would also hope that should they feel like their 'vote' no longer matters, they will feel compelled to 'shout out' and use every platform available to them, in a bid to give their voice value again.
So here's to integrity and here's to the greater good. May we all as artists, always chose to put both before a contractual obligation to sit down and feed another man's ego. The bigger picture is the one that we ALL star in.