Category Archives: actresses

The Petronian-Calvinists

Grande has traded in public as a person of the easiest virtue, whether or not she is so in reality (if celebrities such as she have a reality)

Swing of the pendulum between lascivious licentiousness and vengeful censorious puritanism

The actress and chanteuse Ariana Grande, writes Dalrymple,

is not exactly the soul of discretion when it comes to public sexual display, but rather has made a career (and a fortune) from lascivious vulgarity in word and gesture.

Dalrymple is no expert on the career of this Grande,

and indeed had never heard of her before the bomb went off in the Manchester arena during her performance there (‘concert’ seems too refined a word for her activities) and killed 22 people, including children.

When he looked Grande up on the internet he saw at once that her act

was not one that was suitable for children as young as eight years old to witness, and that there must be something very wrong with a culture in which parents thought that it was. I could not say this at the time, because of the horror of the attack, from whose evil I did not in the least want to detract. I did not want to give the impression that the parents were in any way responsible.

Fumbling cleric: Charles H. Ellis III, former Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and pastor of the Greater Grace Temple, Detroit, gets better acquainted with the actress-singer Ariana Grande

Yet

actively to connive in filling eight-year-old children’s minds with such vulgar rubbish is a dereliction of parental duty. It is scarcely a wonder that so many British girls appear by the age of 12 to look as if their ambition in life is to be a street prostitute.

The affair of Grande and the bishop

None of this

would or does justify any assault, physical or sexual, upon Grande. It is no defence against a charge of such assault that she has traded in public as a person of the easiest virtue, whether or not she is so in reality (if celebrities such as she have a reality). She is entitled to the same protections as everyone else.

Dalrymple asks us to consider the matter of prudence.

No one has the right to break into someone else’s house and steal his belongings. But many burglaries are opportunistic; a person being inclined to steal notices that a door or window is open, and takes the opportunity, without having set out to burgle. I have a perfect right to leave my door and windows open, but surely no one would deny that I had been imprudent in doing so.

The Grande-and-the-bishop affair

exposes (as the actress said to the bishop) a curious and very unattractive aspect of our modern culture: its pendulum swing between lascivious licentiousness and vengeful censorious puritanism.

Grande has made a career — and a fortune — from lascivious vulgarity in word and gesture

We take eight-year-old children to see Grande on the one hand,

and are appalled at the faintest whiff of pædophilia on the other.

We sexualise female children as early as possible,

and recoil with horror like Victorians (or rather, like the Victorians as we imagine them to have been) when someone calls a female on the stage an actress rather than an actor.

We really are, says Dalrymple,

very peculiar, a mixture of Petronius’s Rome and Calvin’s Geneva.

No doubt

the dissolution of the distinction between the public and the private sphere has played its part in this unpleasant evolution.

Dalrymple longs for a world

in which it is still possible to be a secret and private hypocrite, so much more interesting than all this vulgar openness.

Fuck me! as the bishop said to the actress, more in hope than expectation

Dalrymple on the alleged improper fondling by a man of the cloth of an actress-singer who has herself made a career out of lascivious vulgarity in word and gesture

Trump’s adolescent reply to Streep’s drivel

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-21-43-25It was only to be expected, writes Dalrymple, that Meryl Streep

should use the Golden Globes to prove her virtue by criticising the president-elect. Donald Trump is a target whom it is almost impossible to miss, and insofar as everyone needs an object of disdain and reprobation, he performs a valuable public service. Even quite bad people can, with some justification, feel morally superior to him in some respect or other.

Streep’s attack, Dalrymple notes,

was neither unexpected nor original.

If she had

come out in favour of Mr Trump’s Mexican wall, and threatened Mexico with war if it did not pay for it, her speech would have been marginally more noteworthy.

As it was, Trump’s response

was the more interesting. He seems to have a rhinoceros hide and a very thin skin at the same time.

Trump replied that Streep was overrated, presumably as an actress. This, says Dalrymple,

was a very adolescent reply. I know nothing of Ms Streep as a person, whether she is good or bad or something in between (as most of us are), and I am not interested; but she is a very good actress, and this would be so even if she were a Nazi, a Communist, a flat-earther, a vegetarian, a spiritualist, a sadomasochist, or a child molester. Her acting ability has nothing to do with the justification of her opinion (or lack of it).

For the president-elect to react

like a child in a playground quarrel is alarming. Someone should take his mobile phone from him. If there is one person in the world who does not have the right of spontaneous free public expression, it is the president of the United States.

Why should anyone take any notice of what such people say?

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-21-55-48The question of intellectual and moral authority, writes Dalrymple,

is an important one. I mean the authority that derives from thought or knowledge that is out of the ordinary.

Dalrymple supposes that

all ages have had their charlatans, and in no age has credence been placed in what someone says precisely in proportion to his real authority to say it. Is there anyone who has never been taken in by false credentials or by a bogus air of competence and knowledge? As a doctor I have often exuded a confidence to my patients that I by no means felt. Having been seriously ill myself, however, I know only too well that the last thing a patient wants is a Dr Hamlet, scrupulously doubting the veracity of his own opinion.

The attention given to the opinions of people from the world of entertainment—essentially actors and pop stars—irritates Dalrymple.

Actors strike me as unlikely gurus because those who spend their lives imitating others are unlikely to have firm principles or even personalities of their own. In practice, moreover, the opinions of actors and pop stars are drearily uniform: when it comes to bad things that might cause suffering, they are always against them.

He cannot imagine

why anyone should take any notice of what such people say—except, of course, that being kept constantly entertained is the main purpose of many people’s lives, and they naturally assume that those who entertain them are therefore of immense importance and authority. At any rate, this must be the premise on which the news media report that rock guitarist A wants to save the whales, and actor B is worried about the fate of children in Burkina Faso (formerly the Upper Volta).

Such people

have as much right to their opinions as anyone else, but the deference given them by the publicity they receive is rather odd. It is a bit like the publicity given more than a century ago to the testimonials of aristocrats about the value of patent medicines, as if a hereditary title conferred special insight into the pharmacology of bowel movements.