TOM UTLEY: Forget Sod’s Law… Utley’s Law says that every celebrity spouts the same soggy stew of wokery
We’ve all heard of Parkinson’s Law, the brilliant observation that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’.
We’re familiar, too, with Murphy’s Law — more vulgarly known as Sod’s Law — which states that if anything can go wrong, it surely will.
In the most frequently cited example, a slice of buttered toast accidentally dropped on the floor will always land buttered side down.
But enough of other people’s laws. My purpose this week is to formulate a law of my own, which I reckon contains as much truth as most that have gone before.
Put simply, it is this: there is no need to listen to the political views of actors and actresses. This is because they all seem to think exactly alike — and once you’ve heard one of them, you’ve heard them all.
To be more specific, they share identical woke, Left-of-centre views on every subject under the sun.
According to my law, it makes no difference which star of stage or screen has been invited to express a political opinion on, say, Question Time or Have I Got News For You.
The political views of actors are all exactly alike. Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured in 2015) became the latest to add his contribution to wokery, when he condemned ‘toxic masculinity’
Before he or she has uttered a word, you will know you’re in for a wholly predictable recital from the gospel according to Hollywood groupthink.
Donald Trump? The devil incarnate. Boris Johnson? Not much better. Brexit? Backed only by thick racists and xenophobes. Public spending? Not high enough.
Mass immigration? The more the merrier. The BBC licence fee? A sacred national institution, opposed only by Right-wing thugs. Transgender rights? Wonderful in every way.
Man-made global warming? A calamity that governments are not doing enough to avert (and never mind that, as often as not, the performers who express this view have just jetted in from LA on a worldwide tour to promote their latest film).
Only this week, Benedict Cumberbatch became the latest to add his contribution to luvviedom’s warm stew of wokery, when he condemned ‘toxic masculinity’ and the ‘patriarchy’ and demanded ‘equality across the board’ between men and women.
In an interview to publicise his new film, The Power Of The Dog, he told Sky News that it was a ‘childish defensive position’ to protest that ‘not all men are bad’. Every male should ‘shut up and listen’, because we need to ‘fix the men’.
To be honest, I can’t pretend I understand exactly what he meant by this gibberish (can it be wrong to point out that not all men are bad?).
But it’s clear that in painting women as victims of male oppression, he was conforming to the approved opinion of the great mass of his profession.
OK, I admit there are one or two rare exceptions to my law, but then it’s also true that, just occasionally, the toast lands buttered side up.
I’ll freely acknowledge that, once in a blue moon, a rogue actor pops up to say something mildly Right-wing or unwoke.
Once in a blue moon, a rogue actor pops up to say something mildly Right-wing. I’m thinking of Laurence Fox (pictured in 2019) who made one or two controversial remarks about race
I’m thinking particularly of Laurence Fox, who dared to depart from the Hollywood hymnbook last year, when he made one or two controversial remarks about race.
If I remember rightly, he suggested that the Duchess of Sussex was not a victim of racism, while telling a member of the audience who had dismissed him as a ‘white privileged male’ that this expression was itself racist.
But then look what happened to him when he stepped out of line. He was instantly disowned by the great mass of his fellow actors, suffering the same fate as the great J. K. Rowling, who has been ‘cancelled’ by the stars she made rich. Her offence?
She dared to utter the obvious truth — obvious to most of us, at any rate — that people who menstruate are traditionally known as women.
But for every Laurence Fox you could name among actors, I could point to at least a dozen Emma Thompsons, Brian Coxes, Meghan Markles, Ricky Tomlinsons, Stephen Frys, Hugh Grants, Emma Watsons, Steve Coogans, Kate Winslets or Sir Ian McKellens.
You won’t catch the likes of them straying far from the off-the-shelf views peddled day after day by The Guardian.
Now, it’s no part of my intention this week to go into the rights and wrongs of the issues on which actors and actresses like to opine. I’ll save my thoughts on these for another day.
Nor do I challenge their right to speak publicly on any subject they fancy. Actors should be every bit as free as journalists to say what they think about anything and everything, within the bounds of the law.
The great difference is that for every Tom Utley or Richard Littlejohn who backed Brexit, you will have no trouble naming other columnists — Matthew Parris, say, or Polly Toynbee — who think it was a terrible idea.
The fact is that not all journalists think alike. What I find so very extraordinary is that so many actors and actresses do.
What is it, I wonder, about their chosen profession that makes the great mass of them prefer EU membership to Brexit, Blair to Thatcher, Obama to Trump, high spending to low spending and liberalism to social conservatism?
Self-interest may play a part in it. They may be drawn to high government spending by the thought of juicy state subsidies for the arts.
Another strong factor may be their fear of suffering the fate of Laurence Fox, whose film offers dried up when he dared to express Right-of-centre views.
I sometimes suspect that one or two veteran theatrical dames — no names, no pack-drill — may secretly harbour opinions closer to my own than those they express in public. If so, they keep very quiet about them, perhaps wisely.
But I’ll give the great majority of actors and actresses the benefit of the doubt, and say that they seem to hold the views they express more from conviction than self-interest or fear.
When Fox stepped out of line he was disowned by his fellow actors, suffering the same fate as J. K. Rowling (pictured in 2018), who has been ‘cancelled’ by the stars she made rich
To take one example, close to my own heart, do you happen to remember the speech made by Michelle Williams, just before the first lockdown, when she accepted the Golden Globe for best actress in a TV mini-series, which she’d won for her part in a show called Fosse/Verdon?
In it, she declared that she couldn’t have won the award if she hadn’t exercised what she called ‘a woman’s right to choose’, that familiar euphemism for having an abortion.
Now, I know that many readers will passionately disagree with me when I say that I found this shocking, since I personally believe that abortion on demand is wrong.
To me, and to many who share my view, she seemed to be saying that a Golden Globe for best actress in a mini-series was more precious than the unborn life she’d had removed from her womb.
But what struck me forcibly was the ear-splitting cheer that went up from the audience of famous actors.
As the camera panned round the room, the whole lot of them were on their feet, clapping their hands raw. Some of the actresses among them actually shed tears of joy.
In that throng of Hollywood royalty, I saw not a single actor who wasn’t applauding Williams’s endorsement of abortion on demand. Whatever your views on this hugely controversial issue, don’t you find that mighty odd?
After all, the abortion debate divides people irrespective of their political views, trade or profession.
You’ll find Socialists, Conservatives, businessmen, scientists and lawyers who oppose it, and others of the same political persuasion — and in the same line of work — who support it.
Why is it that people who make their living from acting, alone among the professions, seem so unanimous in backing a woman’s right to choose over an unborn baby’s right to life?
Why do they appear similarly united in almost every other view they express, on subjects as varied as global warming and militant feminism?
Mr Cumberbatch may say that it’s men who need fixing. I reckon that actors in thrall to Hollywood groupthink need it more. Until then, I urge you to obey Utley’s Law — and don’t bother to listen.