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Tag Archives: Simon Callow



The Ignorance is Astounding, but Far From Surprising Anymore

It’s not always Brits…  Sometimes, in fact quite often, it’s Americans who have a boner for Britannia that just won’t die.  Back in July, The Guardian magazine printed a piece wherein Michael Douglas was speaking on the hiring of British and Australian actors over American ones to people American films, citing American actors’ image-consciousness, lack of machismo, and asexuality.  In his defense, I believe he was more concerned for what he called the “crisis” of the American industry, than expressing the fascination with English talent that the rest of the industry seems to be obsessed with to the point of fetish.  Still, what seems to be missing in his musings is the fact that he, like many in the successful Hollywood acting class, is the product of nepotism.  He is a celebrity who is, to my mind, while an absolutely serviceable actor whose work I have enjoyed, not particularly diverse, nor exceptionally compelling.  And I contend that no one would know his name if he were not the son of an iconic movie star who did, in fact, achieve prominence all on his own along with the likes of Lancaster and Mitchum, macho-men of the first order, who held the camera’s gaze in a way that he never could.  While he, in his tabloid exploits, has been sure to make it quite clear that he is anything but asexual, I contend further that he is not now, nor ever has been a macho-man himself, that Hollywood makes heroes out of those it chooses, and it has, of late, been choosing Englishmen, because of America’s age-old sense of arousal induced by all things British.

What Douglas has in common with successful British actors is the oblivious notion that they are who they are and what they are by naturally occurring selective processes that have nothing to do with the unevenness of the playing field, and everything to do with their own superior talent.  You can hear it in the ignorant, dismissive comments of Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine concerning the lack of African American representation at this past year’s Academy Awards.  And you can hear it in the comments of British stage actor, Simon Callow, in the article below from the periodical, The Stage.  The Stage is a British entertainment industry magazine, thus the views expressed therein, depending of course upon who’s reading them, will naturally tend to bend, not towards highlighting the problem of diversity and bias in the business – where inclusion cognizance is concerned, the English, for the most part, seem to regard themselves as lightyears ahead of their American cousins – but rather towards illustrating the staggering lack of awareness among white, and in this case British, successful industry professionals that the problem actually exists at all.  Like Michael Douglas, they will generally speak from their position on third base where they stand self-assuredly thinking they hit a triple.  I may be conflating a couple of different issues here, but I only seek to illustrate that life on the inside is pretty fucking good, and it’s extremely difficult for one encased therein to see accurately what’s beyond it.  If you are incapable of conceiving of the very idea of white privilege because you have been blinded your entire life by its benefits, as far as you are concerned, there will never be a problem to address.  This situation creates a dire circumstance, because only those outside the circle of privilege will ever understand that it is there.  Perhaps, tragically, it is, in that case, insurmountable…

A group called British Black and Asian Shakespeare @BBAShakespeare works to raise awareness regarding the conditions of and around diversity and inclusion in the UK industry, and pushes back at some of the uninformed ideas expressed by Simon Callow below.  I can only hope there are others.  Meanwhile, the italics superimposed upon the article are mine, as if there were any confusion…

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