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This far is far enough

Maxine Peake as Hamlet

Several things about the modern world bug me and one of them is the political-correctness industry. If that makes me a fuddy-duddy then I’m happy to plead guilty. I like to think that I’m all for social development and I accept that often ‘ahead of their time’ campaigners have to challenge or buck the existing order in that progress can be made – we’d all still be living in the Dark Ages if that wasn’t the case – but, in my view, in a general sense, the modern ‘right on’ culture has gone quite far enough thank you and I have a growing sense that the time to call a halt may have arrived.

Let me hold my hand up straight away. I genuinely have no objection to homosexuality or homosexuals per se, but I do have a difficulty with the concept of same-sex marriages, simply because I hold the view that matrimony (a man-made status) should relate exclusively to unions between a man and a woman. I had no problem at all with civil partnerships that give gay couples similar legal rights to heterosexual ones, but gay marriages seem a step too far to me.

Today, however, I’m blogging on the subject of political correctness as it relates to the entertainment industry.

I’m all for experimental theatre – in 2014 the actress Maxine Peake played the title role in Hamlet, for example, recently David Suchet played Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and it’s almost traditional that male actors play the aunt in the farce that is Charlie’s Aunt – but I don’t ‘get’ the fashionable lobby campaigning for more movie roles for older women, that there should be quotas for disabled actors and/or that black actors should be given the chance to become the next James Bond.

Whilst there’s plainly no reason at all that any of the above shouldn’t happen, for me the idea that political correctness should prevail over the many other reasons that producing decisions or choices get made is wrong.

For example, if Ian Fleming wrote James Bond as a white Etonian it seems to me that no producer ought to be criticised for casting a Caucasian in the role. By the same token – am I arguing against myself here? – although a blacked-up Sir Laurence Olivier gave a memorable performance as Othello, since Shakespeare’s character was a black man ordinarily one might be forgiven for expecting that he should be played by one.

I guess the key thing here is the degree of influence. If you’re dealing with a dramatic piece written and set in 18th Century Europe, for example, when there were infinitesimally few black people on hand, should a producer commissioning a new adaptation stay true to that actualité or incongruously perhaps insist upon say a couple of black parts be written into it and/or deliberately include black actors in the cast in order to satisfy some 21st Century sensitivity?

Then again, does it even matter?

As I understand it, in America there exists a law or convention that – wherever a character in a television series or movie is not colour-specific – then a certain number of black actors will be given parts. That seems not just reasonable to me, but healthy.

Rampant tokenism, however, I’m against.

If that ever took hold and applied to its logical conclusion, every drama piece that reached public exhibition would be required to include not only actors of several different racial origins, but examples of disabled, gay, educationally-challenged, amputee, blind and deaf ones as well.

swiftToday when I awoke and began looking around the newspaper websites, I came across reports of a media storm that has been engulfing the young and apparently very talented American singer-songwriter pop warbler Taylor Swift, one of today’s leading music stars of the moment.

To accompany her latest tune – entitled Wildest Dreams – she made a music video set broadly in a 1930s Out Of Africa–style scenario.

As a result she is now apparently copping a shed-load of flak because of its supposed colonial connotations and the fact that it includes but a pair of black people in it, and they only in some sort of fleeting [blink and you missed them] roles.

To be honest with you, when I watched it, I didn’t even notice them at all – but that’s not my point.

Swift was just making a four-minute music video with a simple storyline in which she, playing a leading female actress making a film in Africa, may or may not be sharing a real-life attraction with the (male) lead actor playing her love interest.

What’s so politically-incorrect about that?

Yes, I know Taylor Swift is probably a role model to millions of young women around the world – and arguably should be setting some sort of example both to her fans and the world – but come on chaps, give the bint a break!

See what you think of her video, courtesy of YouTube, here – WILDEST DREAMS