So You (Allegedly) Molested A Child

If ‘evil’ oil companies and banks can use Crisis PR firms to launder their sullied reputations, Hollywood celebrities need to start demanding the same 5-star service

I am sure that if it has not already happened, there will soon be a lucrative new niche field of crisis PR management opening up to handle (in exchange for extortionate sums of cash) the cases of terrified and often guilty Hollywood celebrities and power-players accused of inappropriate or illegal historic sexual activity with unwilling partners. Lord knows that whoever first enters the market stands to make an absolute fortune, because the response of those individuals currently being tried in the social media star chamber post Harvey Weinstein has been crying out for professional finesse.

One can imagine it now. The sweaty, shaking fingers slipping over the keypad as some panicked A-lister who only months ago was picking up gold statuettes and industry acclaim by the sackload now frantically dials his manager, begging him to kill a career-threatening story about past indiscretions. And who does the dutiful manager turn to? After looking in his desk and retrieving the handy “So You Raped A Child And Paid Them Hush Money / Forgot All About It” public information leaflet, they call the new service.

The polished executives who come to the A-lister’s house make a couple of things clear right off the bat. First, for the love of God, stop apologising for whatever it is you were accused of, and deny it instead. And certainly don’t concede that it might have happened, but you can’t be sure because you were dead drunk and who can remember all the fourteen-year-olds they clambered on top of at a party three decades ago. Not the way to go. That’s Step One.

A forceful denial comes first, and then you need to find something, anything else to dominate the news cycle – that’s Step Two. If you can arrange for senior campaign figures from last year’s presidential election to be indicted on charges of conspiracy against the United States, that should do the trick. Failing that, engineering some other event of geopolitical importance will take the heat off and buy you a moment’s pause to plan Step Three.

Step Three consists of the distraction. You have to understand the climate and culture in which you operate, and that is one totally dominated by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics. In this world, accountability (and associated punishments for wrongdoing) are measured in inverse proportion to your position in the Hierarchy of Victimhood. At all costs, you must be able to refute the charge of being white, male and heterosexual – those three strikes will damn you immediately. Trying to pass yourself off as 8 percent Cherokee has yielded only mixed results in the past, so at the very minimum you should shoot for being gay or bisexual. If you’re looking at potential criminal charges rather than just the end of your career, it is worth considering the merits of transgenderism too. If you actually happen to legitimately fit into of these categories then so much the better, it will help with authenticity.

Once you have settled upon your distraction, integrate it tightly into your public response to the accusation, a response which – to repeat Step One – should not include an apology. The goal is to shut things down as quickly as possible by calling the accuser a liar and then winning sympathy by picking up as many identity politics bonus points as possible in your statement. Now you have successfully dealt with Day 1 of the fallout.

Day Two will require another domination of the news cycle. Assuming that there are no more well-connected politicos to indict on conspiracy charges, this is when you want to wheel out your Unimpeachable Character Witness. Use any downtime on Day 1 to identify this person, get them briefed, media trained and ready to spin a wonderful tale about how appropriate you have been at all times to all people, and how despite having been presented with at least ten gold-plated opportunities to rape a child over the past thirty years, not once did you cave to the temptation. That’s Step Four.

Now, the public may be sceptical of such stage-managed events, so the more people you can persuade to sing from the same hymn sheet the better. You want peers, pastors and anyone else to be singing four-part fugues about how awesome you are, and how you live a life of virtual celibacy outside specified age-appropriate relationships where consent forms are signed and notorised before each individual romantic encounter.

The final immediate action in terms of immediate crisis management, Step 5, is celebrity outreach. At this critical juncture, when you have been accused by a single source, you stand on the cusp of becoming toxic in celebrityworld. One more accusation and you are Hollywood kryptonite. At this point, people you once considered good friends will stop calling, and business acquaintances will suddenly be too busy to meet. Some will outright denounce you on social media.

As a savvy person, you know that at all costs you must avoid – what was that phrase? – ah yes, being cleaved from the herd and left to die in the wilderness. Hug your celebrity besties tightly. Do what you have to do to get invited on a sympathetic talk show where you can come across as shocked by the accusation, flaunt your good deeds and somehow paint yourself as the victim. This is a zero sum game, with space for exactly one brave hero and one villain.

This is the service that any go-getting, ambitious soul should be touting around Hollywood right now, as well as the London West End, Washington D.C., Westminster and a bunch of other places where large concentrations of powerful people with dodgy pasts are suddenly terrified for their futures.

And the best thing about this new market niche is that it will never dry up. Protecting terrified, middle-aged celebrities from accusations of inappropriate, abusive or downright illegal behaviour will not fall victim to outsourcing, automation or technical obsolescence. The entertainment industry will always exist, and so will those aspects of human nature which prompt some guilty people to abuse their positions of power to obtain sexual gratification from unwilling parties, and others to misremember or even falsely accuse innocent public figures of similar misdeeds.

In fact, the only way that this Celebrity Crisis PR business model would ever stop making money is if the denizens of Hollywood stopped being such moralising, hypocritical sleazebags. And there is no danger of that happening whatsoever.

 

Harvey Weinstein - sexual harassment

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Clarence Darrow vs The Rotten Soul Of Today’s Labour Movement

Kevin Spacey Clarence Darrow 2

 

What would the famous labour lawyer and anti-death penalty advocate Clarence Darrow say to the late RMT union leader Bob Crow if the two men were to meet in Heaven?

The mental image of their fictional meeting would not leave my mind after I watched Kevin Spacey’s remarkable portrayal of the former unfold in the eponymous one-man play Clarence Darrow at London’s Old Vic Theatre on Friday.

The production – which is well reviewed here, here and here, and in which an elderly Darrow looks back on the many victories and tribulations of his long legal career – gave considerable attention to Darrow’s union activism through his defence of the American Railway Union leader Eugene Debs in the 1894 Pullman Strike, and of the McNamara brothers charged with dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building in 1910, among other famous episodes.

But watching Kevin Spacey portray Clarence Darrow is to see an impassioned and eloquent defence of the rights and dignity of working people that today’s current and recently departed left wing political and union leaders could never hope to equal.

Witnessing the spirit and passion of Clarence Darrow flicker to life on a London stage made it starkly apparent just how close the modern labour movement is to purposelessness and death in the Age of Miliband.

While Darrow in full rhetorical flight could have convinced Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher themselves of the need to concern themselves with the welfare and aspirations of the mother and father working minimum wage jobs on zero hour contracts, today’s left-wing figureheads come across as whiny, self-entitled and spitefully partisan by comparison.

Here are the stirring words of Clarence Darrow in an address to the inmates of Cook County Jail in 1902, the theme of which would be taken up by Ed Miliband and the Labour party in a bold reassertion of conviction politics were today’s labour movement not so politically calculating and intellectually inert:

To take all the coal in the United States and raise the price two dollars or three dollars when there is no need of it, and thus kills thousands of babies and send thousands of people to the poorhouse and tens of thousands to jail, as is done every year in the United States — this is a greater crime than all the people in our jails ever committed, but the law does not punish it. Why? Because the fellows who control the earth make the laws. If you and I had the making of the laws, the first thing we would do would be to punish the fellow who gets control of the earth. Nature put this coal in the ground for me as well as for them and nature made the prairies up here to raise wheat for me as well as for them, and then the great railroad companies came along and fenced it up.

How relevant to today, given the present Labour Party’s focus on the “cost of living crisis” and its apparent determination to freeze consumer energy bills.

But here instead is Ed Miliband warning us of the supposedly mortal threat to the unions posed by David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government, in a typically unmemorable speech to the 2013 TUC conference:

We have a Prime Minister who writes you and your members off. Who doesn’t just write you off, but oozes contempt for you from every pore. What does he say about you? He says the trade union movement is a “threat to our economy”. Back to the enemy within.

Six and a half million people in Britain. Who teach our children. Who look after the sick. Who care for the elderly. Who build our homes. Who keep our shops open morning, noon and night. They’re not the enemy within. They’re the people who make Britain what it is.

How dare he? How dare he insult people – members of trade unions – as he does?

Terrible speechwriting aside, Miliband’s suggestion that David Cameron spends his every waking hour plotting against the trade union movement like a modern-day Iago is patently absurd. While the Conservative Party – as one would expect – raises objections to various union policies and rhetoric and their self-interested leadership, you will search in vain to find any evidence of the prime minister “oozing contempt”.

Ed Miliband (in his halting, aggrieved and ineffectual way) and others try hard to continue the life-and-death struggle narrative laid out by Darrow a century earlier, but the fact that their comments are aimed at a modern British audience – even the poorest of whom likely own smartphones, personal computers and enjoy access to universal healthcare via the NHS – renders them ridiculous.

Where Darrow wore his heart on his sleeve and walked the walk of labour advocacy – foregoing a more lucrative career in order to oppose his old railroad bosses who were oppressing their workers – today’s leaders such as Miliband and his union counterparts often hail from the same metropolitan middle and upper-middle classes who form the middle management and ranks of senior civil servants for whom so many working Brits toil. And what’s more, Labour politicians and the management class now talk and sound alike.

Whereas Clarence Darrow stood firmly for worker’s rights without lapsing into sentimental and unworkable socialism, the response of the likes of Ed Miliband, Len McCluskey and Mark Serwotka to our present pale shadow of real austerity has been snarling and misleading hyperbole about the Conservatives “hating” the poor and taking an obscene delight in their suffering.

(It is conveniently forgotten by these anti-Tory crusaders that the suffering was largely created by a gradual bipartisan expansion of the state, and by making so many British people dependent on the government for one thing or another that any retrenchment of spending now has a widespread, painful effect that would not be the case if the government didn’t try to do so much.)

The victories won by organised labour in Clarence Darrow’s day saved lives and liberated millions of people from what William Beveridge would later describe as the five “Giant Evils” in society: want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. And they are immortalised in rights and traditions which endure to this day, such as the annual May Day march and rally in London, and the Labor Day federal holiday in America.

The victories won by the left wing establishment of today (and the debauched, rudderless trades union to whom they are captive) are comparatively petty and trivial, and each passing ‘victory’ incrementally serves either to perpetuate inefficient public sector service delivery or entrench benefits for union members at the expense of the ranks of the budding entrepreneur class, the self employed, the underemployed and the jobless.

The union men of Darrow’s America (and their British counterparts) would be horrified to witness the tanned, bloated, self-satisfied swagger of men like Bob Crow, who delighted in tormenting other ordinary working people with their undemocratic strikes in order to preserve the gold-plated salary and benefits of, say, a tube driver on the London Underground who gets paid well over twice as much as a newly trained Private fighting for his or her country in the British Army.

So how would Clarence Darrow feel upon meeting the likes of Bob Crow?

One can only imagine, but in fairness, it is not unreasonable to think Darrow would first feel immense satisfaction and relief that the causes for which he fought have come to fruition and done so much good, not just in the United States but throughout the Western world.

His heart might swell to know that not only have child labour and the exploitative company towns of his day been cast into history, but that the strength of public sentiment stands firmly against multinational companies who try to take undue advantage of lower standards and regulations in other parts of the world – although there is undeniably still much work to be done.

But a man of such conviction as Clarence Darrow would also likely recoil at the nanny-state socialism, self-entitled smugness and the bitter, envious rhetoric of people like Bob Crow and today’s labour movement leaders, who have casually sauntered in his hard-fought footsteps across what is now much easier political terrain.

And a final bold prediction: A century from now, in the year 2114 – no matter how much the current generation of labour leaders try to portray themselves as intrepid generals locked in an ongoing epic battle for the rights of the downtrodden and the dignity of man – nobody will spend hours queueing for return tickets to a play honouring the life’s work of the likes Ed Miliband, Bob Crow or others of their calibre.

Truly great women and men like Clarence Darrow fought and won ninety percent of the battle before today’s privileged, metropolitan, self-appointed guardians of the common man ever picked up a protest placard or stumbled into their first Labour Students Society meeting.

 

 

Clarence Darrow finishes its run at The Old Vic Theatre tonight. Kevin Spacey also portrayed Clarence Darrow in a PBS biopic movie of the same name, the climactic speech of which is shown above.

 

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On Saving Television

Following on from my earlier rant about ludicrous and archaic regional restrictions on downloadable and streaming media, The Telegraph has an interesting piece looking at the future viability of the television industry as a whole.

They focus on a recent speech given by Kevin Spacey where he discusses how the TV industry (particularly in the USA) must adapt and break away from the pilot -> probationary season model that squashes innovation and sees too many potentially good shows canceled before they have the opportunity to properly establish themselves. Key excerpts of the speech are here:

 

The Telegraph reports:

Giving the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, the American actor called on the industry to take advantage of massive interest in boxsets and cult dramas such as Breaking Bad to take more risks and have patience with shows that are not instant hits.

Mr Spacey said: “[In 1990] the film industry didn’t believe that television could ever become its biggest competitor. I do not think anyone today 15 years later – [in terms of character driven drama] can argue that television has not indeed taken over.

“The warp-speed of technological advancement – the internet, streaming, multi-platforming – happens to have coincided with the recognition of TV as an art form.

“So you have this incredible confluence of a medium coming into its own just as the technology for that medium is drastically shifting. Studios and networks who ignore either shift – whether the increasing sophistication of storytelling, or the constantly shifting sands of technological advancement – will be left behind.”

All very true. And as we have seen with the industry’s laggardly response in coming to terms with a globalised audience unwilling to accept phased release dates and geographically restricted online access, television does not appear primed to address these challenges.

Spacey continues, with reference to his recent remake of the British political thriller “House of Cards”, which was wildly popular and released as a downloadable “box set” on NetFlix rather than in serial form via one of the traditional broadcast networks:

“If someone can watch an entire season of a TV series in one day, doesn’t that show an incredible attention span? We must observe, adapt and try new things to discover appetites we didn’t know were there.”

This last point really hits the nail on the head. Just as consumers no longer have to flick through a meagre three or four grainy broadcast network channels to get their television fix, neither do they want to consume their favourite shows in one hour increments, dosed out at weekly intervals by the paternalistic TV networks. It is for this reason that TV series “bingeing” has become a phenomena, with many people (myself included) preferring to watch five or six episodes of a favourite show in one sitting, as I have done with Game of Thrones, House of Cards and many others.

The longer that the television industry remains obdurate and inconsiderate of this shift in consumer sentiment and behaviour, the more they will continue to lose out to other business models (such as the NetFlix downloadable series model) and video piracy.

It has never been easier to find episodes of your favourite television show for free, hosted on anonymous websites of dubious legality. The television industry would do well to remember this as they continue to erect more and more bureaucratic and legal obstacles between the consumer and the media that they want to consume.

The full transcript of Kevin Spacey’s lecture can be read here.