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George Clooney and the New Woke Imperialism

Summary:
Hollywood celebrities are increasingly serving on the frontline of the culture war. They were out in force during the US presidential elections. And they continually issue missives supporting a range of causes, from Black Lives Matter to the campaign to turn Greta Thunberg into a secular saint. So I was not shocked when, in the course of an online interview with GQ magazine, George Clooney interrupted his discussion of his new film, The Midnight Sky, to talk about the problem of hatred throughout the world. And, in line with the fashionable Hollywood political playbook, Clooney’s condemnation of hate was naturally accompanied by an attack on Hungary. Projecting the sci-fi vision of The Midnight Sky on to what he clearly sees as

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Hollywood celebrities are increasingly serving on the frontline of the culture war. They were out in force during the US presidential elections. And they continually issue missives supporting a range of causes, from Black Lives Matter to the campaign to turn Greta Thunberg into a secular saint.

So I was not shocked when, in the course of an online interview with GQ magazine, George Clooney interrupted his discussion of his new film, The Midnight Sky, to talk about the problem of hatred throughout the world. And, in line with the fashionable Hollywood political playbook, Clooney’s condemnation of hate was naturally accompanied by an attack on Hungary.

Projecting the sci-fi vision of The Midnight Sky on to what he clearly sees as real-world dystopias in Hungary and elsewhere, Clooney concluded his commentary on hate by saying: ‘Go to Bolsonaro in Brazil or Orban in Hungary.’

There is no evidence that Clooney has actually experienced any hate in Brazil or Hungary. It would be great if Clooney followed his advice of ‘go to Hungary’, because he might then decide to alter his script of hate.

As with the imperialist storytellers of the 19th century, Clooney’s view of the exotic Other is really a sublimated expression of the anxieties circulating in his own world. If you want to experience outbursts of hate, you could do worse than go to Clooney’s native land. Just watch the videos of Black Lives Matter protesters yelling at diners in a restaurant in Washington, DC. Their language of hatred is totally unrestrained, as is their intimidating body language. Similar scenes have tragically erupted in many parts of the US.

So I say to George: ‘Go to America.’ Go there and learn about the hate that people are experiencing.

As it happens, George has not been anywhere for quite some time. As a fully signed-up member of the global cultural elite, he does not really go to normal places, where normal human beings live and work. Just look at his schedule as he jets from one villa to another, only occasionally punctuating his pursuits by going to Davos or some other global forum where he can encounter friends and colleagues – who also don’t really go anywhere.

Unlike George, I do go to Hungary. On a bad day I sometimes encounter tense individuals, who lash out at one another. In this sense Hungary is no different to any other European society. But hate? In Hungary you will not find the kind of personalised venomous attacks on individuals that have become the hallmark of the weaponisation of identity politics in the US.

And yet, despite the relatively relaxed atmosphere that prevails in a city like Budapest, I expect to see a new wave of celebrities mobilising their reputations to assist with the anti-Hungary crusade.

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