Oscar Wilde said that sentimentality was the bank holiday of cynicism. He was not wrong.by Wrinkled Weasel
|Halle Berry gushes at Oscars|
Sentimentality is not just the preserve of Hollywood. It now affects book prizes, and in particular a current obsession with anything that is not English. Take a look at the shortlists for British and USbook prizes. Five books were shorlisted for last year's Orwell. Of the five, one was by Petina Gappah, billed as "The Voice of Zimbabwe", another is a book about Kenya and yet another is a book about Turkish Kurds and another is about Islamism by someone called Kenan Malik. John Kampfner makes an appearance, but Kampfner is a cypher for the comfy left. The winner of last year's Owell wrote about Alzheimer's. Its winners are a a tribal paradigm of the liberal left consensus. Polly Toynbee? Yasmin Alibhai-Brown? Paul Foot? Peter Hitchens? No wonder Nick Cohen turned up pissed out of his head at the 2009 shortlist show.
The Guardian can barely bring itself to review a book that is not written by somebody with a funny name, about somewhere that sounds exotic.
Tips to authors - if you want to get published and shortlisted in Britain today, call yourself Adomati Plange and write about the "plight" of Armenian sex trade workers.
We are plunging into a very silly obsession with anything foreign. I am always mildly amused when I meet some English type with a Chinese symbol tattooed on their person and secretly hope that the Chinese symbol reads "Schmuck".
As for religion, that too has not escaped the current desire for all things foreign and exotic. After all, if you can wear a saffron robe, smoke a bit of hash and learn to play a digeridoo, it has to be more fun than the stuffy old CofE.
It is not as if any of this obsession with stuff that is African or Indian or Turkish or whatever is particularly edifying or true. Most of these places are unremitting shit holes like everywhere else and any attempt to mitigate this is purely a Western Liberal fantasy, and a cynical one at that.
We seem to have fogotten our heritage, our British heritage. We have forgotten that the life expectancy of people on certain Glasgow social housing estates are less than in Yemen or North Korea. we have forgotten that we are the cradle of the Industrial Revolution and the hypocentre of a contemporary rock and pop culture that changed the world.
When it comes to liberality and sentiment, perhaps it is time to point it in the direction of home, but of course, it is not exotic enough to engage the faddists.