HitlerDoes one have to be branded a cynic to request a sick bucket whenever cloying sentimentality is called upon to emotionally manipulate an audience, even if it’s in ‘a good cause’? I appreciate that might not be a question you get asked on a regular basis, but when it seems that everybody else’s tear-ducts are automatically set to respond to certain triggers that mine appear immune to, I do wonder. Good Cause does not equal Good Television, but viewers are expected to put up and shut up regardless. Anyone who remembers ITV’s networked Telethons in the 80s or has ever sat through ‘Children in Need’ (particularly the excruciating regional opt-out segments) will recognise the difficulty in slipping feet with permanently curled toes into shoes. I’m not a callous bastard, but I tend to instinctively laugh where others shed tears when I’m being commanded to cry on cue.

There’s a long tradition of gooey, slushy corn in American popular culture, the kind of nauseating, sugar-coated, insincere faux-emotion that used to induce both hilarity and queasiness on this side of the pond. Hollywood is a past master at it and a noted graduate of Tinsel Town, Ronald Reagan, used the tactics he’d learned from his B-movie years in one of his campaign ads during the 1984 Presidential Election. Who can recall his moving declaration of his love for Nancy in the said ad without vomiting? Yes, we alternately scoffed and puked over what was seen as a uniquely American method of selling a politician, confident no British Prime Ministerial candidate would ever get away with it. And then Labour leader Neil Kinnock aped it in a party political broadcast during the 1987 General Election, with what was labelled ‘Kinnock: The Movie’.

At one time, the only real sightings of a home-grown sentimentality comparable to that which Americans have trademarked came over the festive season, as highlighted in chart-toppers by the likes of Clive Dunn and the St Winifred’s School Choir; but this was mostly packed away with the Christmas tree a week into January, as though letting the mask slip was a shameful episode best brushed under the carpet for the rest of the year. We retained our ability to react to excessive sentiment with characteristic (not to say witty) British cynicism, even if the fawning coverage of the Royal Family by the media tried its best to generate such feelings all year round. However, when Neil and Glenys were seen strolling along the windswept Llandudno coastline as a voice-over from the Labour leader praised his missus, I suspect the stirrings in the pit of the nation’s stomach probably contributed to a Conservative landslide as much as any economic factors.

The memorable promo film for Sid Vicious’ cover of ‘My Way’, in which Punk’s very own Dennis the Menace responded to an applauding audience by eventually opening fire on them and then exiting the stage by giving two fingers to those on the front row who were still alive, was the perfect visual accompaniment to his sneering piss-take of the standard’s overwrought emotional content. A little over twenty years later, when Robbie Williams performed ‘My Way’ at the Albert Hall as the climax to his ‘Swing When You’re Winning’ project, he approached the song with an utter absence of irony and played it straight. Considering Williams was known for his ‘cheeky chappie’ persona, it seemed a strange cop-out. But classic British aversion to US-style schmaltz had taken a battering in 1997 – and we all remember what happened then. I’m thinking Kensington Palace.

In an episode of the unnervingly prophetic 2005 Channel 4 comedy, ‘Nathan Barley’, the character of Claire Ashcroft displays her credentials as a serious documentary-maker by showing footage she shot of a musical collective of recovering drug addicts as they sing their songs of survival before an audience of bewildered schoolchildren. Claire, along with her journalist brother Dan, is portrayed as someone believing she has some substance in comparison to the dim-witted airheads surrounding her, yet by attaching herself to a Good Cause she seems to think it will obscure the fact that she is just as desperate for fame and acknowledged ‘Cool’ kudos as the rest of them. I was reminded of Claire’s toe-curling video when someone pointed me in the direction of last week’s Oscars.

The theatrical profession in this country has always gone against the grain and expressed emotion at awards ceremonies with such ridiculous histrionics that it has been ripe for easy parody; Eric Idle’s impersonation of Richard Attenborough, weeping uncontrollably as he presents an award to a fridge in a classic Python sketch, sticks in the memory above all others. But even the BAFTAs have paled next to the Oscars, in which the ‘God, Mom and Apple Pie’ Republican right and the ‘Looking after the minorities’ liberal left have suspended hostilities for the evening to merge together in a mush of saccharine sentimentality and spew-inducing emotional exploitation. Gwyneth Paltrow’s hysterical 1998 speech when she collected her Oscar for ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was rightly regarded as a notorious low point in the history of the ceremony, but I’ve a suspicion it was surpassed this year.

Lady GaGa, a pop star seemingly intent on rehashing everything Madonna did twenty-five years ago and claiming it as her own invention, performed a song at the piano at last week’s Oscars event, one that was apparently her musical response to a past rape. As far as conveying the horror of such an experience goes, it was hardly ‘The Boiler’ by The Special AKA, closer in spirit to a Mariah Carey exercise in practising scales; what it had to do with handing out gongs to people pretending to be other people is not clear. However, bearing in mind the showbiz backdrop, advertising her own personal suffering wasn’t enough for GaGa or the PC sentiments of the assembled glitterati; she had to bring a ‘Springtime for Hitler’ element into the mix to hammer the point home, and therefore the number climaxed with a choir of Professional Victims joining her onstage, each with their credentials stamped on their arms in a remarkably distasteful echo of concentration camp survivors. It’s a wonder they weren’t clad in Belsen prison uniforms.

Wallowing in victimhood and pleading for sympathy, nay, demanding it, is a virus that has now spread to the stage; we’re just one step away from ‘Rape: The Musical’, and if the tearful ‘we are compelled to get to our feet and applaud this ghastly spectacle because that’s what’s expected of us’ reaction of Hollywood Royalty is anything to go by, we’re halfway there. Should I feel guilty for laughing? Or should I be thankful I’m still nowhere near as cynical as those that sell suffering as though it were Coca-Cola?

© The Editor


14 thoughts on “SING-A-LONG A SURVIVOR

  1. The Oscar’s abomination popped-up on the news last night. It had me swearing at the telly before bending my girlfriend’s ear until her drooping eyelids made me relent.
    The woeful song’s woeful performance was dedicated to another ‘artist’ – one who is trying to wriggle out of a legal contract by alleging sexual & other abuse over a period of a decade…

    “XXXX is asking for a judge to release her from her contract with XXXX.”

    How about asking the police to arrest him instead (if it’s true)?!? If she manages to pull this off – and the mindless dummies are backing her to the hilt, stunned to discover that a recording-contract might limit a singer’s ‘creativity’ in exchange for piles of cash & the company’s promotion of said ‘artist’ – the world can wave goodbye to any bit of paper that anyone feels like reneging on. Just say he said you looked fat & the Twitter-warriors will do the rest…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know if I saw enough to comment (angrily waving my arms around in the air) but I’d guess that Morris might have opted for self-harming, razor-slashed writing on the choir of idiots’ arms instead of the biro scribbling they went for.

        Christ, what a culture of wallowing the young must have to extricate themselves from if they don’t want to grow up to be cretins… it was an “empowerment anthem”, apparently.


      2. One more for you: ‘transformative’.
        That is what her ‘astonishing tribute to David Bowie’ was – during the Grammy’s this time! Ye Gods…


      3. I thought the Gaga Bowie tribute was stunning until she walked on stage and started singing.

        With regards to this Oscars thing, I saw the headline about it and just could not bring myself to watch. All I kept thinking was “a cheap holiday in other people’s misery”….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. God, this is madness! In 2014 LG claimed that she herself had been raped many years earlier, and that it was the inspiration for a song:

    “In an interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM, the singer brought up the rape in the context of her performance of the song at South by Southwest, where British artist Millie Brown vomited colored paint onto Gaga while the singer rode a mechanical bull. “I want this chick to throw up on me in front of the world, so that I can tell them, ‘You know what? You could never, ever degrade me as much as I degrade myself, and look how beautiful it is when I do,'” Gaga said.”

    Er, okay… She’s never reported the alleged rape & it would be interesting to hear what it consisted of, given that she thinks “one in 5 women will be raped before they finish college.”

    But it gets weirder with this:

    “A few days after the interview [with Stern], Kehsa’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, tweeted that Gaga’s rapist was Dr. Luke [from whose ‘control’ his client is trying to extricate herself]. A spokesperson for Gaga told Rolling Stone that the allegation was patently untrue. “This ridiculous, manufactured link between Lady Gaga and the Kesha/Dr. Luke lawsuit is utterly incomprehensible,” said the rep. “This simply isn’t true and how dare someone take advantage of such a sensitive matter.””

    But they’re all friends now. Coming out to bat for Kesha – oblivious to the irony – Lady Gaga asks:

    “”Why do we let people in a position of power get away with behaving inhumanely? These guys hide behind the legal system and it’s their litigious behavior that is precisely what they use to rape these girls. ‘Give me what I want or else I will come after you’ and they have all the money and the resources to do it.””


  3. I’m pretty sure that in a year or two the Oscar organizers are going to have to clamp down on the virtue signalling or they’ll become as popular in the TV ratings as party political broadcasts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What with all this talk of rape etc… Well, I can only apologise unreservedly, but I just couldn’t help but stop myself thinking of this!!! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

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