A blow for 'actorvism'
It's been a bad week for idiot actors and political activism
Steve Coogan's woeful appearance on BBC's Question Time (from Brighton) marked a new low in cringeworthy contributions from the celebrity panellist. Without a script to work from Steve's retinue of Partridgian ticks, smirks and gurns, allied to his open hatred of 'The Tories' betrayed a rather nasty individual given to prejudices and ignorance on many issues. A bit like Alan, in fact.
Coogan's first contribution was actually applauding Harriet Harman's feeble contribution in a rather embarrassing display of solidarity, just in case we didn't know up front, that, you know, Steve really hates 'The Tories'.
This was followed by a painful dose of gibbering, class war, tax-the-rich nonsense which evolved into a childish spat with Kirsty Allsop in which she wiped the floor with him.
More idiotic babble was to follow about the Rochdale abuse case, in which in Coogan was so terrified at being perceived as pointing the finger at Islam – which clearly was his point – that he made no sense at all, although bravely had a pop at Catholicism.
An audience member then compounded Steve's feebleness by effortlessly and lucidly making the very point Coogan so clumsily had failed to.
He waffled more socialist worker rubbish about funding rents for the poor before tailing off with spitting raw bile once more in his hatred for 'The Tories'.
It was a truly woeful performance in front of a home audience (Coogan owns £2.4m Ovingdean Grange just outside Brighton) who by the end were almost more receptive to the unlikely but informed, measured logic of Jacob Rees-Mogg than to the bumbling gracelessness of Alan's socialist worker twin brother.
Question Time persists with this stupidity safe in the knowledge that celebrities generate ratings and invariably follow the same sort of lazy, ill-informed, badly-argued, boring brand of left wing waffle so beloved of the BBC. It's as if John Lydon never happened.
Meanwhile in Hollywood, Matt Damon's latest flick, the Gus Van Zant-directed Promised Land is now finished and ready for release. Co-written with fellow Democrat fund-raiser and star of the US version of The Office, John Krasinski, the film was intended to be an anti-fracking tale with Academy Award pretention.
Of course fracking – short for hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting gas from shale which has led to a boom in cheap gas production around the US – is the cause de leurs jours for idiot Hollywood ecoberks, ever since the factually dodgy anti-fracking documentary Gasland was bizarrely nominated for an Academy Award in 2011. It rightly lost to the brilliant credit-crunch doc, Inside Job, narrated by…Matt Damon.
Since then a coterie of luvvies including Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Leonardo Di Caprio, Darryl Hannah, Margot Kidder, Sean Lennon, his preposterous mother, and now Matt Damon, who really should know better, have jumped on board the anti-fracking juggernaught. One assumes their energy bills are handled by accountants, their livelihoods unaffected by the rabid incoherence of enviro-mentalists.
Gasland 2 is apparently in the works with plenty of studio money behind it and endorsement from the likes of the above. Promised Land is slated for December/January release.
But there's been a snag.
The facts do seem to have got in the way of a good story as successive EPA investigations and court rulings not only appear to give fracking a clean bill of health – thus far – but also reveal a litany of lies and deception on the part of anti-fracking activists and indeed the makers of Gasland, who have been revealed to have omitted difficult-to-square material from their original film.
These inconvenient truths started to emerge just as Damon and Krasinski were boldly touting their script as 2013's Oscar winner. By the time filming started in Pennsylvania, not only had a sizeable group of residents of the town where the action takes place mobilised themselves to oppose the anti-fracking message, but, also, an embarrassing re-write of the script now had the green activist hero played by Krasinski recast, amazingly, as an oil industry undercover agent charged with portraying green activists as lyin', cheatin' commies or something…See what they did there? Brilliant. Oscars all round.
At least in the end the ‘actorvists’ concentrated on what they are being paid to do. Telling. A. Story.
Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon is a freelance journalist who over the past 15 years has written for The Times, the Financial Times, The Sunday Times and Sunday Express
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