Steyn on royalty and celebrity

Mark Steyn has a lovely column up now on the way British rock stars take themselves so seriously, and how the Queen “is, in fact, making a profound cultural statement” by “pretending never to have heard of any of these alleged cultural icons” — and then he segues to this comment about this year’s Academy Awards:

In America, of course, there’s no Queen, so you have to make do with Chris Rock, who isn’t head of state but played one in Head of State (the first black president: “The only thing White is the House”). In his Oscar monologue, Rock essayed an amusing riff on one of the passing fancies: “Who is Jude Law? Why’s he in every movie I have seen for the last four years?”

Backstage, Sean Penn heard this throwaway gag and fumed and brooded for three hours until he got to walk on and present the award for best actress, and then in his best plonkingly humorless serious-artist mode he reprimanded Chris Rock and explained that Jude Law was, in fact, one of the towering figures of the age. As they say, ignorance of the Law is no excuse. If folks are allowed to get away with that kind of lese majesty, one day they’ll be up there being mildly irreverent about Barbra Streisand. Or even Sean Penn.

Steyn has commented on this before, in the Spectator (“I haven’t had the opportunity to perform a forensic examination of the Sean Penn puppet in Team America: World Police, but it would be a marvel of marionation if he were thinner-skinned than the real Penn”), and it makes me wish this year’s ceremonies had not been one of the few Oscar evenings that I missed in the past 20-ish years. Ah well, the family gathering was nice, too.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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