We went to see a Star is Born, and enjoyed it, in which Lady Gaga stared with Bradley Cooper who also seemed to do everything except be the cameraman! I wouldn’t normally notice this but the FMS (that’s my wife Tracy, the Final Mrs Selves!) likes to listen to the music at the end of films so I read the credits!
It was a listed as being a 15 according to the censor because of drug taking and swearing. How times have changed since Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Oscar Wilde, tame by comparison. I will no doubt be told by all the modernists, many of whom are very PC in other contexts, that it was realistic. But it is a long time since I heard or experienced such a constant use of the F word. I remember a visit 30 years ago to a hard porno film as part of a stag weekend (we only had a stag night when I got married!) and I think it occurred less regularly in that! Hearing loud and clear the unspoken criticism of my views I think back to the kids TV programme Grange Hill and the argument about whether it reflected or created behaviour.
So why do I mention Grange Hill? We had lunch on Sunday with one of my sons, his wife, daughter 7 and son 3 and a half. They are well behaved kids, but not too well behaved and in my view kids have to be a bit naughty, perfect kids make bad adults! But they were calm and almost worryingly well behaved while we were in a chain restaurant waiting for our food to come and I commented on it. Ah, said Adam, they’ve had less screen time for the last fortnight and are so much better together. I misunderstood this thinking he meant computer screens and all that goes with it. He meant less television.
We are beginning to read about the damaging effect of people spending too much time on their phones and social media, children and adults. The kids and TV argument has raged since TV became 24 hours a day. What, I am thinking, is to be learnt from Adam’s unscientific experience? Without that evidence I could be accused of bringing the values and experiences of a past generation to the present where they are perceived to be out of sync. But that is to improve the present and frowned on by many of those who want to change history by rewriting it using the values of today.
Would Donald Bradman have been such a great batsman today? Who knows, but in his day he was head and shoulders the best. I mention this because I read that an MP, Thangam Debbonaire, has called for the statue of Edward Colston to be taken down in Bristol. I understand why he says this, but don’t agree. If we adopted that view how many statues would survive across the world? He was speaking at a Black History Month meeting, which I don’t have a problem with, but would he have a problem with me having a White History Month meeting?
Ian Birrell wrote an excellent article in the i last week. Should we ban George Orwell books and pull down his statue? Of course not and as he says he was a champion of anti-totalitarianism and tribalism. Orwell made, Birrell points out, anti-Semitic comments, of which I totally disapprove, but he was talking about his personal struggles in a different age.
And what about Winston Churchill who made many comments which were, righty, condemned when they were made for being indefensible? But we should not revisit them or others with a different standard. What was condemned at the time was right to be condemned, was wasn’t shouldn’t be attacked now. But let me paint a modern picture of one of Churchill’s most famous put downs. Lady Astor called him drunk and he replied something like, and you are ugly but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly! Can you imagine the social media outcry today? People, even Lady Astor I’m told, laughed at the time. But what I wonder would Churchill have replied on Twitter to the outcry about his humour! Of course he wouldn’t have bothered, but if he had he probably would have used his favourite B word!
So where does all this take me. Simple really, I thought Grange Hill created more than reflected society and think soaps generally have damaged the fabric of our society – and I’ve had and got several actor friends who have been in them. Did the original A Star is Born with Lisa Minelli use the F word so much? I suspect not. Should the censor have given it a 15 rating? No. But, if you think they are better, you can argue for the values, standard and morals of one generation on another when it is happening in real time, but not impose the current generations values retrospectively. You can fight to change the current but should never reinterpret the past, that is to insult all the people who abided by the rules of the day at the time. Am I out of tune with the current world? Maybe, but I’ll stand firm for what I think are better standards. Well, mostly! A third of the under 25s apparently don’t drink alcohol now. I’d miss my pint and will drink as much as I like on my 100th birthday in 30 years, whatever the accepted norm is then! Does that defeat my argument ….. ummmm …. Answers on a post card, please - only the over forties will understand that!