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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Dissent Crushed, Film Suppressed at 11

Ah, yes, 'tis fall and the smell of the crushed blossoms of dissent wafts through the air, felling puppies and kitties.

British-born Alex "Who?" Kingston tells all to the Independent, in its fawning profile of her. (Seriously, I have never heard of this "leading light" of American TV.) Author James Rampton wastes no opportunity to grovel in penning this classic portrayal of the honest British entertainer forced by cruel circumstance to spend her days in the grueling sun, enduring pitiless luxury and the drooling, slope-browed locals, to pursue her craft in the belly of the Beast. Ah, but her purity is untouched:

Despite all those years surrounded by psycho-babbling lifestyle gurus, I'm mightily relieved to say that she has not gone all Californian on us. That is most obviously demonstrated by the actress's outrage that in the US virtually all criticism of Bush's policies has been deemed "unpatriotic" and suppressed.

Er, but James, that's so Hollywood!

Kingston also says,

Quite unprompted, midway through our interview she says that The Independent offers "the best journalism in the world". This is not, I hasten to add, just gratuitous flattery. It is expressed as part of the actress's deep concern about the state of the media in the US.


In addition, she is livid about the McCarthyite witch-hunting of anyone who dares voice criticisms of the US President. "It frustrates me," Kingston asserts. "And it's not just because I'm European - thousands of Americans share the same frustrations."

You know, every time I read something like this, I think, "Gosh, a lot of people are saying that. Maybe there's something to it. Perhaps, finally, this person will reveal the Truth! She will give an example of the excesses of the Bush administration! She will blow the whistle on Ashcroft's crushing of dissent!" Let's read:

"...A comic called Bill Maher hosted an irreverent current-affairs talkshow called Politically Incorrect, where celebs would come on and discuss topical subjects. In one edition, he wanted to provoke a debate, so he said that while the terrorists who had hijacked the planes on September 11 were many things, they weren't cowards. His show was instantly axed, and Maher lost his livelihood. Isn't he allowed to make an inflammatory statement in order to get a reaction?"

Phweet. OK, stand down red alert. Sound the all clear.

Ah, yes, Bill Maher. Said something that pissed off his sponsors (actually, he said that it was Americans who were cowardly), and his show went off the air instantly. I mean, sometime in the next nine minutes! No, wait, months. It was nine months. The episode in question aired on September 17, 2001, and (per the above Wikipedia link), Maher's show ended on June 16, 2002. The cancellation was announced about a month before.

His show was on the air for nine months after Fed Ex and Sears pulled their sponsorship. It was not suppressed by the Bush administration. As for Maher's "lost...livelihood", he seems to have found it again. He just had Michael Moore, Charles Barkley, and Aaron McGruder on his show (the fourth horse must've thrown a shoe). Oh, and he has a blog. Happy Day!

Given her big chance to reveal the McCarthy-ite nature of Bush's America, she has to trot out Bill Maher. If that's the best she's got, I think we can cancel that order of crosses.

But let's look at this part again:

"Isn't he allowed to make an inflammatory statement in order to get a reaction?"

This is exactly what he did. He did not try to "provoke a debate", he tried to get a reaction. He didn't say something inflammatory because he believed it; he did it to get a rise out of his audience. This is not debate, or dissent, this is infantile exhibitionism. This is the equivalent of going downstairs and shitting on the carpet in front of Mommy and Daddy's party guests. Why people pay for this sort of thing, from Maher or Stern or Limbaugh, I don't know.

But then, when Maher got more reaction than he bargained for, he whined that he was being "persecuted". How unfair, that people no longer want to pay to be offended!

So, Kingston is just another Hollywood nitwit who has somehow gotten the idea that she (and others like her) are owed a living, that their special specialness entitles them to live in luxury without actually having to please anyone for it. Why, they're doing us a favor by entertaining us! Surely anything they want to say should be OK by us.

Moving along in this tongue bath, we find that Kingston is starring at Boudica (or possibly Boadicea) in a new movie co-produced by WGBH. Kingston and Rampton are wriggling with glee, anticipating the American reaction to this film. For you see:

Many strands of Andrew Davies's biopic about the feisty Celtic warrior queen could have been ripped from today's headlines. The wily old writer's script is full of such current buzz-phrases as "brute force - it's the only language these savages understand," "read my lips," "client state" and "the peace process".

Ugh. I hate modern slang in historical movies. It sounds ignorant. Hell, it sounded ignorant when George Bush said "read my lips" the first time. Enjoy the farm-fresh "it's the only language these savages understand", which was not only in practically every movie set in colonial-era Anywhere, but was probably said by the Cro-Magnon of the Neanderthal. And I don't think the ancients really had the modern grasp of the "peace process".

"What you call terrorism," Prasutagus fumes, "we call defending our home." Prasutagus' even ballsier wife, Boudica (portrayed with characteristic spiritedness by Kingston) then wades in, urging her husband to resist the brutal invaders: "This is our land, and we'll fight for every last inch of it. If we die, we'll die a glorious death." Do these words sound at all familiar?


Oh thus be it ever
When free men shall stand
Between their loved homes
And the war's desolation... Thought not.

No, actually, it doesn't really sound familiar. Care to give us a hint?

The sheer topicality of this tale of a defiant people fighting back against an imperialist invader proved irresistible to Kingston. "Andrew [Davies], in his usual naughty way, draws modern parallels," laughs the 40-year-old actress..."He cheekily puts President Bush's words into the mouths of the Romans. In an early draft, the Emperor Nero even called his enemies 'the axis of evil.'

Tee hee!

"Given what's happening in the world at the moment, you could easily liken the Romans to the Americans. I'm certain that Andrew was influenced by world events as he was writing Boudica," she says, before adding with a mischievous smile: "I will be fascinated to see the American reaction to the film."

What if the reaction is that we can do without your snotty British arse on our TV screens, and send you back to enjoy the cold and damp, hmmmm? Then you can spend your time reflecting with satisfaction on your martyrdom.

Sadly, this will not come to pass.

But remember, "Boudica" on PBS---Must Miss TV!

(Via veteran Oppressor Tim Blair.)