Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Rowan Atkinson has been getting rave reviews for his performance in Quartermaine's Terms. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Or at least to a less irritating one.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that most people, when they achieve success in showbiz, feel the urge to pay back their public by embracing some fashionable cause which they think is going to make the world a better place. Usually this has the exact opposite result of the one intended.
So, when Yoko Ono and Matt Damon campaign against fracking what they're really fighting for is higher fuel prices and less money for struggling farmers in Pennsylvania.
When Atkinson's mate Richard Curtis campaigns for CO2 reduction with his Splattergate movie what he's really fighting for is the vilification of sceptics, more taxes, more regulation, the death of free trade and fewer jobs and a lower standard of living for future generations.
When Hugh Grant – and I really like Hugh Grant, especially since I discovered I'm one of the first things he turns to in the Spectator, so it really disappoints me that he's gone this way – campaigns for Hacked Off, what he's really fighting is against freedom of speech on behalf of the scuzzball Guardianista types whom I'm sure he instinctively loathes.
Atkinson, however, has always kept himself to himself and his political views private. This made his contribution all the more valuable when he did finally settle on a cause he considered worth championing: the ludicrous section of the Public Order Act outlawing "insult." This was a very bad and stupid law (as so many laws were from the Blair era) which resulted in such ridiculous cases as the Oxford undergraduate fined for calling a police horse "gay." But it certainly wasn't an obvious choice for a luvvie to campaign against.
First, it's about an issue which is complex and grown up and not – unlike say, climate change or "poverty" – an obvious sign that you really, like,care about stuff.
Second, it's not about banning stuff – which is what luvvies really like to do given half the chance because they're all basically in favour of more government – but about unbanning stuff, which is a much harder concept for your luvvie to deal with, involving as it does worrying issues like personal responsibility and freedom of choice.
So, well done, Rowan Atkinson. Mr Bean may be bloody irritating but you knew that already. The point is this: you're a star and a mensch.