A DIVERSITY DILEMMA

Noel ClarkeIf you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to apologise for, right? Seems like basic common sense, really. You’re a kid at school; a classmate’s dinner money is nicked; he points the finger at you, even though you didn’t nick it; you deny it – however much his lie is believed by everyone around you, you deny it because you didn’t nick it. Simple. Even if the rest of the school is convinced of your guilt and the suspicion surrounding you sticks for the duration of your education like the proverbial mud, as long as you yourself know you are innocent, you do not need to issue an apology. Take this scenario out of the schoolyard and place it in the real world – or social media, which could be considered the unreal world, and apply the same logic. What you don’t do is indulge in a fudge. You don’t say something like – ‘I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing,’ and then add – ‘Recent reports, however, have made it clear to me that some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise. To those individuals, I am deeply sorry. I will be seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better.’

So said Noel Clarke – actor, writer, director and producer. For those who still watch ITV, Clarke has been the star of a new drama series by the name of ‘Viewpoint’, one of those that requires instant viewer commitment by being serialised every night from Monday-Friday; well, ‘Viewpoint’ actually aired Monday-Thursday, for in an inspired act of scheduling that perhaps says a great deal about the blurred lines that now exist between innocence and guilt, ITV decided to drop the final episode of the series to the delight of 3.5 million viewers who had invested in it for the first four episodes. Bizarrely, however, the concluding instalment of ‘Viewpoint’ will be available to view on ITV’s equivalent of the iPlayer, ITV Hub, until Sunday. I don’t suppose that comes as much consolation to the majority ITV audience of pensioners who perhaps aren’t online, like my mother – who refers to the internet as ‘that computer thing’.

Why did ITV take this drastic action when they appeared to have a hit on their hands? Well, I guess for the same reason BBC4 took the scissors to so many vintage editions of ‘Top of the Pops’ from the 1970s and 80s when they were repeating them a few years back. The Ministry of Truth tactics of erasing an accused individual from history is now second nature, and the cultural law of the land decrees the said non-person can only henceforth be mentioned in the context of the accusations against them. Otherwise, they simply never existed. Therefore, Noel Clarke is everywhere today bar the one place his stellar career suggests he should be – i.e. acting in a well-received drama on one of the country’s mainstream TV channels; he has been ‘culturally cancelled’, but can be named and shamed as long as the context isn’t a work of art.

I guess it would have been so much easier to digest had Noel Clarke simply been a middle-aged or elderly white man. Then, the behaviour of which he’s been accused would make sense because that’s what middle-aged or elderly white men do, isn’t it – well, that’s what we’ve been led to believe for the past decade. It’s something that is utterly exclusive to that particularly pernicious breed of toxic masculinity male. Noel Clarke couldn’t be guilty of such despicable and reprehensible acts on account of him being a poster-boy for ‘diversity’ in an industry that prides itself on its unimpeachable Woke credentials, where heroes and villains are clearly defined along racial, sexual and ethnic lines. I mean, for God’s sake, it’s only a few weeks since Clarke was showered in glory by BAFTA with a gong for his Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema; this proves he didn’t get his award for just being a black man in the right place at the right time, but there are factors involved that probably didn’t hinder his nomination, knowing the way Arts organisations tend to tick their boxes.

No, in all seriousness, Clarke has come on in leaps and bounds since he first sprang to prominence in the rebooted ‘Doctor Who’ the best part of fifteen years ago, long before the show itself committed Hara-kiri by embracing the extremities of Identity Politics. He rapidly showed he had more strings to his bow than merely being a stooge for David Tenant and Billie Piper by masterminding the critically acclaimed urban cinema trilogy that began with ‘Kidulthood’. Indeed, Clarke has established himself as one of the country’s creative movers and shakers over the past decade and his is the kind of success story that the white middle-class intelligentsia that controls the MSM absolutely adores – which is why the revelations that gate-crashed the Guardian (of all places) will be so hard for some to swallow. BAFTA apparently received advanced warning of the imminent allegations against Clarke before the ceremony in which he was awarded went ahead, but it chose to ignore them and award him regardless. Perhaps it just didn’t want to believe him capable of what he was being accused of.

And what was he being accused of? Well, it seems the double standards of an industry that continues to revel in its holier-than-thou hypocrisy have not been hindered by the Weinstein’s of this world; if the allegations that surfaced in the pages of the Grauniad are even remotely true, the casting couch and the unrestrained arrogance of men to abuse their positions of power behind closed doors whilst preaching ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ to the public gaze remains intact. The allegations paint a sleazy portrait straight out of 1930s Hollywood, with aspiring starlets submitting to ‘nude auditions’ and the like in the belief that refusing to submit to the whims of celluloid kingpins would scupper their chances of stardom.

It’s a sorry story as old as moving pictures, but one that seemingly flourishes even in the post-MeToo landscape. 20 women who have drifted into Noel Clarke’s professional orbit have accused him of ‘sexual harassment, unwanted touching or groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour and comments on set, professional misconduct, taking and sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos without consent, and bullying’. All these incidents are alleged to have taken place between 2004 and 2019 – which is basically the lifespan of Clarke’s career.

Overnight, the industry that lionised Clarke 24 hours previously has unceremoniously abandoned him to his fate in the Court of Public Opinion. BAFTA has suspended him, ITV has dropped his latest hit show on the eve of its denouement, and Sky has also removed him from further participation in its crime drama, ‘Bulletproof’. On the strength of allegations published in a newspaper, Noel Clarke’s career and his professional reputation have been killed without the involvement (so far) of the police, the Law or the judiciary. That’s the way it works today. We’ve seen it endless times over the past ten years, though rarely has it penetrated the ring of steel protecting those who embody qualities so prized (and profitable) in the Woke era.

If Noel Clarke is an innocent man – and, lest we forget, anyone accused is supposed to be innocent until the due process of the Law proves otherwise – then he should have refuted the allegations completely and not inserted an apologetic caveat; that just makes it seem as though he is guilty and is trying to suggest that even though he did do what he’s accused of doing he didn’t realise what he was doing was wrong. And that just makes him look f***ing stupid on one hand and guilty as hell on the other. I would say the jury is out, but Noel Clarke hasn’t even got that far yet – if he ever does.

© The Editor