Pissed-off Toff

The BAFTA awards and the tedium of ‘diversity’

in Reviews

Bored to tears by the piety and sermonising that now infect the BAFTA awards, Pissed-off Toff wonders whether this event has had its day.

The fact that the organisers of last Sunday’s BAFTA awards had called for the event to be made ‘carbon-neutral’ was more than enough to put me off watching it. But for lack of anything better to do, and with a bit of gin remaining in the bottle, I tuned into the programme some time towards the end of it, just at the point when the ubiquitous Olivia Coleman, now routinely dubbed a ‘national treasure’, presented the Best Leading Actor award to Joachim Phoenix. 

Ever since his performance as the Roman emperor Commodus in Gladiator, I’ve rather liked Joachim, and I now hoped that he would give a decent acceptance speech. But he proceeded to lecture us, at length, about ‘racism’ in the film industry and about how it must be eradicated.

I am fed up with the preaching and moralising of rich actors and actresses. Swimming in money, fawned over and idolised wherever they go, they are the pampered aristocrats of our age. Isn’t that enough for them? The worst offender is the now distinctly frumpy Emma Thompson. Why can’t this middle-aged luvvie just shut up and enjoy her cash? But no: she must lecture us, too. It’s almost got to the stage where I won’t watch any film with her in it.

Anyhow, after Phoenix had stopped thumping on his pulpit, Graham Norton, the genial compère of the evening, tried to restore something of the party spirit. “Right! OK!!” he said, making it clear that what he really meant was: “Now, now, Joachim! That’s enough of that!” I liked him all the more for it.

Next, Robert de Niro stepped up to present the Best Leading Actress award, which went to Renée Zellweger. By which stage I was wondering whether we were in London or Hollywood. Were we perhaps going to see any British actors at this event which is meant to celebrate the British film-making industry? Plus, her acceptance speech – if that’s what one can call the awful transatlantic emoting which followed – was dull, dull, dull. “Thank you, thank you,” she burbled. “I’m so grateful.” Did she then proceed to thank her mum and her dad and her ‘nan’ and her lovely lovely hairdresser? I can’t remember. But this sort of incontinent rubbish should be banned outright. Plus, she’s lost too much weight.

So it was a relief when Hugh Grant materialised to present the Best Film award and the Best Director award, which both went to Sam Mendes, formerly husband of the lovely Kate Winslett. I can’t remember what Hugh said, but it brought a badly-needed dose of wit and light-heartedness. Unfortunately, Mendes then subjected us to another acheingly dull speech in the American vein, with yet more silly thankyous for his wretched publicist, housekeeper and dry cleaner.

Now step forward the star attraction of the evening – the President of BAFTA. For once, the super-competent Graham Norton tripped up. “And now please welcome The Royal Highness [sic] … [pause] … His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge,” he said. By this stage, we had perhaps put Joachim Phoenix’s lecture about ‘racism’ out of our minds; and we were hoping that that was enough PC drivel for one night. No such luck, however … because there now ensued a speech from the royal lips not about ‘racism’, but about the equally tedious and almost identical topic of ‘diversity’.

Here are some key passages, quoted verbatim:

“We are lucky to have incredible film-makers, actors, producers, directors and technicians; men and women from all backgrounds and ethnicities enriching our lives through film. Yet in 2020 – and not for the first time – we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and in the awards process. [……] Following this year’s nominations, I’ve launched a full and thorough review of the entire process … [etc etc etc].”

Oh, the boredom! The screaming boredom of all this sermonising!! Plus, why did Prince William appear to be wearing a strap-on black bow-tie? Perhaps I’ve got this wrong, but that’s very much what it looked like to me. He went to Eton, where he was a member of Pop, so he’ll know how to do up his own bow-tie with his eyes closed. (Members of Pop having the right – along with various other exceptionally brilliant senior boys, including Pissed-off Toff – to wear a stiff white wing collar with a white bow-tie, always done up the proper way.)

Anyhow, if William is so keen on ‘diversity’, why is this event now almost entirely American? I’m fed up with the preening de Niro; I’m fed up with Al Pacino, who was also there, unshaven and wearing his silly dark glasses even when inside the auditorium; and after her awful acceptance speech, I’m close to being fed up with Renée Z, too. Furthermore, if the BAFTA is no longer a British event, what is the point of it? Especially when it is responsible for all those satanic ‘carbon emissions’.

One simple solution springs to mind: close down this platform for pious sermonising. Like that, the actors and actresses of Hollywood could stay at home, feeling good about limiting their ‘carbon footprint’ … and the rest of us would be spared the tedium of listening to them blubbing out their thankyous to the cleaning women without whom they could not, apparently, have become rich and famous.

* * * * *

And what, granted his fondness for ‘diversity’, would The Duke of Cambridge have made of a Scottish event that took place in London, shortly before the BAFTA awards?

Late one evening, just before the anniversary of Robert Burns’ birthday, I was walking past an assembly hall in Westminster, from which issued the sound of bagpipes and loud whooping. The door onto the street was ajar, so I walked in. Beneath the stage a hundred-odd men and women – mainly in their twenties and thirties, with the men in black tie and kilts, and the women looking their best – were dancing reels. It was a joyous sight, and one that took me back to another time and place. (I know there were a hundred guests, BTW, because I didn’t count the heads swirling around on the dance floor, which would have been difficult; but I counted the tables at which the assembled crowd had been eating … seventeen tables, each seating six = 102.)

Among those present, there was not one coloured face. Not one. Every single person there was of Celtic or Anglo-Saxon descent. I did not know that such a thing was still possible in our increasingly ‘diverse’ and increasingly dysfunctional world.

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