Slightly more composed

Not enough to write, but enough for another post. Which will leave me with more time tomorrow when I’m hopefully more focused. And TYG took care of the possible errand tomorrow morning (an electronics problem she fixed in about two minutes after she get home), so yay!
West coast restaurateur Ginny W. blogs about Gordon Ramsey here. The gist: She finds him a nasty, abusive creep and can’t stand the “but he’s a genius” excuse so many people offer.
This struck a chord. I’ve little familiarity with Ramsey, but I find the same attitude annoying in other artistic fields. Don’t get me wrong, I fully realize that if you’re a genius/celebrity/star/millionaire, people will make allowances for you; I’m talking about the attitude that people should make allowances for you.
I don’t run into this much in real life, but it shows up off and on in movies and books. H. P. Lovecraft, in some of his early stories, would bemoan the fact that crass, common people fail to appreciate the genius of sensitive poetic types. And that society in general fails to realize that sensitive, poetic types are so much more important than some stupid unimaginative laborer. And that sensitive poetic types simply shouldn’t be expected to lower themselves to churning out popular material instead of beautiful sensitive art.
I’ve come across this attitude (which I sometimes call “wimpy Lovecraft”) in other writers too (though no examples spring to mind). Or related phenomenon, such as Black Hunter, White Heart, a roman a clef about the making of The African Queen. Told from the writer’s perspective, it presents the screenwriter as a gifted writer and aesthete struggling to save his beautiful, brilliant script from the crass hands of director John Huston and his cast. Which, admittedly may be true … but I’m skeptical (I should note I’ve only seen the Clint Eastwood adaptation, not read the original BHWH novel).
The flip side is the image of the artiste more like Ramsey, as Ginny W. describes him: A reprobate, maybe a son of a bitch, but my God, he creates such amazing plays/art/novels, how can you not love him? This can make for an interesting dynamic, but it can also reinforce the same sentiment: We must make allowance for great art! Brilliant people must be given special consideration!
Case in point: A Fine Madness, (1966) which stars Sean Connery as an allegedly brilliant poet—we don’t see any evidence of this—struggling to finish his masterwork. Which requires his wife (Joanne Woodward) support him. And not bitch when he sleeps with other women—doesn’t she realize he can’t be bound by conventional morality? And she most certainly should not get herself pregnant, which is the movie’s downbeat conclusion: By getting herself knocked up (at least that’s the way the movie seems to feel about it), she’s going to force him to get a job and earn money and destroy his Bohemian free spirit. Oh, the tragedy!
The movie also informs us that a visionary such as Connery can’t possibly waste time following shallow, phony social conventions, so he’s free to be rude to as many people as he wants. As he informs psychiatrist Patrick O’Neal, his work as a poet is to shatter social norms, not encourage them!
Of course, we don’t actually see him shattering any social norms except those that inconvenience himself (monogamy—he’s really big on liberating attractive women from that one, for instance), but I’m sure if he’d finished his poetic masterwork, chains would have been shattered left and right.
The movie does not consider the possibility that there is some slight difference between offending people and liberating them from convention; it’s either suffer in bourgeouis hell or embrace Freedom (to be rude and cheat on your wife).
I have the same feeling about Connery’s character that Ginny W. (whom I know from elsewhere online) has about Ramsey: This is the sort of obnoxious, unreasonable behavior up with which people should not put.
Genius does not excuse anyone from acting like a human being.

7 Comments

Filed under Movies, Personal

7 responses to “Slightly more composed

  1. Oh, yes. I need never to watch that movie. Thanks for the warning.

  2. frasersherman

    You’re welcome.

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