Is there No Limit to our suffering.
Locked in a race as to who can kill the arts first, we bear witness to a gargantuan dick swinging contest fought between haphazard bureaucrats in government and a deadly bat pathogen. The fight is escalating with no end in sight, but one thing is for sure – corporate America will profit endlessly.
The psychological side of coronavirus I find very interesting. Are you cracking yet? I am! It is in no doubt a real and dangerous virus which kills many, many people. It is also true that government lockdowns break people in their hundreds of millions. Just one lockdown harms more lives than the infectious virus leaves living in the same space of time. The first one was necessary. The subsequent ones are due to government mismanagement and a sizeable minority not taking enough personal responsibility.
The situation as it stands has been horrendous for the arts. I think lockdown is putting too much stress on people. It’s also killing culture. Cinema. Art. The lot. We could even be heading to the point where there’s a mass hysteria and people collectively break in large numbers all at once. I hate to break it to you, but I’ve always thought that this was where our world was heading anyway, regardless of corona.
When I was a great optimist, before the pandemic, some nagging feeling told me were on this road already. The powerful forces acting upon us getting more and more extreme – Government forces. Capitalism and corporate power. Work / life imbalance. Loneliness. Disruptive technology. Inequality. Boris Johnson.
Yes Boris, the blonde Eaton sadist febrile idiot in charge of the Great British nation. You see, he is not alone. Most of our governments with the exception of New Zealand, Norway, Finland and Taiwan are merely reactive committees, caught between science and the big corporate lobbyists – which amazingly in England include a pub landlord!
These easily led bureaucrats have not even yet realised that if you have a lockdown when the virus rates are low but slowly rising, it makes much more difference than doing one later when it’s raging out of control. When it’s raging out of control, you need a much longer one to make any difference. To have a shorter lock down earlier at the right moment, you need the power of decisive foresight backed by scientific data, so you anticipate early rather than react. In the UK, even after the horse has bolted, it is incredible how long it takes to persuade the dithering scruffy Womble to close the gate. By the time Johnson has aired matters with his warring Tory party and the business lobbyists and pub landlords, the horse has done 80 laps of the Grand National.
Above: Boris gets persuaded by Prof Whitty to lockdown the fucking country
Incredibly the fascist British municipal was elected by a vocal section of UK society who had traditionally voted for socialists. The illusion has succeeded admirably. Here was a man to finally look out for the interests of normal people.
The trick succeeded only because the people’s interests had been twisted for years in an orchestrated campaign of propaganda. Before the mention of a Brexit referendum, the subject of freedom of movement and fish barely ever came to the minds of anyone as a life or death situation. Suddenly, as if over night, all the ills of a modern globalised society were pinned at the door of Europe, and on refugees. Pitched into a life & death battle with patriotism and fish & chips. Given the choice, most Brits would drown a refugee to save their fish & chips. Do we really trust our democratically elected representatives to compassionately save lives in an epidemic?
At no point has the British government had any concern for people’s lives, so immensely privileged are they. Who needs a plan when you have a million in the bank and a nice country retreat? Their philosophy is, it breaks, you buy another one. To them, public office is just a big swindle, a scheme to enrich themselves and their friends even further and publicise themselves. Boris has always been an ambulance chasing self publicist. A narcissist former magazine editor and a game show host.
In Germany the other extreme is true. Angela Merkel genuinely seems to want to save every last life at the expense of killing everybody’s lives. In Germany, a positive coronavirus test rate of 150 people out of 100,000 is considered too high, with just 25 cases out of 100,000 touted as the realistic goal before people can crawl, flattened, out of strict lockdown again. So much for free will. The Germany company BioNTech responsible for creating the vaccine marketed by Pfizer offered Angela Merkel 100 million doses in the first instance. Incredibly the offer was turned down. Later, in fact just last week, the German government came back to BioNTech complaining about vaccine shortages. BioNTech was asked to ramp up production (at this late stage). The lead scientist was furious and rightly so. In fact there is now a lack of approved vaccines to rollout all across Europe, and all because Eurocrats spread their orders out so widely in an ill educated crapshoot. Orders include millions for vaccines that aren’t even out of their trials yet, with no final data released on efficacy, let alone approved by regulators.
It is against this shit show backdrop of political incompetence that artists and filmmakers are asked to sit back on the sofa for the Nth time and watch their livelihoods disappear, not complaining, but doing their bit for society by doing absolutely nothing at all. And you see, with every passing day and for months on end, our lives whittle away, whithering on the vine because of THEIR incompetence. Our relationships crumble and our careers flounder. Some of us will even die from the virus.
Taken in the millions, at great damage to culture all over Earth, this is simply not an acceptable price worth paying to patch over the incompetence of government planners.
It is a known fact that fragile elders in the final years of their lives are at most risk from the virus. The morality discussion about who must so uncaringly be thrown overboard to save the sinking ship is as repulsive as it is complex. When you consider the impact coronavirus can have on people under 80 and even on healthy people under 50, the morality of it gets even more disturbing. Yet if we are to sacrifice our lives to give life to others, it’s simply what we must do. What I cannot accept, is doing this in an incompetent way, as dictated by governments who aren’t really out for us and don’t have the necessary experience or brains enough to cope with what’s going on.
We are not actually doing this simply because the governments tell us. We are sacrificing our time to save lives. Not just for the old and frail, but for the thousands of otherwise fit and healthy people with many more years to live, who can all die from the virus in certain cases (albeit less than 0.5% on average) so you have to assume that is the selfless thing to do and what the Pope would recommend.
(Some would prefer to fuck it and just go shopping).
The morality of this though – is where the devil is. Where there is no good option – only bad choices – these bad choices are not being decided in a democratic or even a properly scientific way.
Instead, governments are taking decisions over the head of the people about what people can and can’t do, about what will keep the most people safe and what will be sacrificed in terms of livelihoods, mental health, physical health, suicides, depression, businesses collapse, economic damage and peoples jobs, in return for slightly lower death rates and keeping spare capacity available in hospitals.
They have to decide. We cannot. In a democratic referendum you cannot distill such big picture moral and economic questions into a simple binary “yes or no” decision. So government experts and politicians have to be trusted to come up with a plan, preferably a long term one… and one which works.
Unfortunately they really have just been making it up as they go along and reacting to data on an hour to hour basis. It’s absurd.
Coincidentally, this need for expert planning was exactly why the question on Brexit was not for the British people and their dogs to answer but for democratically elected experts to plot the right course on our behalf. My hairdresser does not even know who is Prime Minister.
It is the politicians job not to be a popular celebrity vote winner, but to skilfully plot the course of a nation through historic change and challenges, with the upmost care, the maximum compassion and skilful competence and learning. It’s also their job to look after the arts, filmmaking and culture.
So where did that go wrong?
Well for starters, the personal attributes above don’t stand out in a modern show-biz style argument on TV news, let alone in a tabloid newspaper, which is how we decide who we elect. Oh, and social media has made it even worse.
Until we have elections that elect politicians based on real specific skills, competence, experience and compassion, we may never overcome a crisis like this without millions of deaths and scuttled lives.
I just feel deeply sorry everyone at the moment, especially other artists and filmmakers caught in the crossfire of this bin-fire of mismanagement.
Brits finding themselves unable to freely travel and move around in Europe due to Brexit, now lack even the ability to move around freely of their own volition in their own neighbourhood and town due to the mismanagement of coronavirus.
In 2021 (assuming the lockdown ends by Summer – and that’s a big if), one can stay in New Zealand for longer than we can in Berlin. It makes no sense at all. Each and every one of us are trading our world class EU passport for something clearly inferior and more limited, negotiated behind closed doors by chinless wonders. The amazing thing is that at least 50% of the country did so willingly, without even realising the extent of what they were voting for before they voted.
This “realising” part is where the crux of the whole problem lies.
As was and is the case with coronavirus, TV, newspapers and social media strung us along with sensationalised coverage right from the start, hyped up for clicks and views, pitting one extreme viewpoint against the other at the expense of calm, usable information.
Our culture is sliding backward into vapid pleasure seeking, dumb consumerism, shallow discourse, ignorance and conspiracy, with our politicians becoming more and more representative of that, because we’re the ones who elect them. The EU referendum in Great Britain was the worst informed referendum in the history of the country and the pandemic is for many people the worst informed pandemic since the Black Death. For some people it would be better if they knew nothing about coronavirus instead of the utter bullshit they do believe. We have useless celebrity Tik Tok videos showing us how to wash our hands whilst singing happy birthday, Instagram celebrities telling us that 5G causes the virus, yet actual scientific studies of exactly how the virus spreads indoors through the air sit unread in some dark corner, barely even broadcast at all to the public en-masse. A large proportion of people don’t understand the science or the full extent and seriousness of the problem we’re facing, or even how to properly gauge the everyday risk. The result is that we keep falling back down the stairs again and again and again, until the economy is wreaked, our mental health smashed, culture in the bin.
One final note to end on – I find it absolutely reprehensible that massive pharmaceutical companies are making extravagant profit margins on the cure. Not a penny of that profit should be siphoned off by shareholders and it should be entirely reinvested into the vaccine science and research. The British vaccine developed by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca should be the model for the rest of the industry to follow. And Tom Cruise on the set of Mission Impossible should be given 200 doses already to save his crew the ear bashing!