So sayeth the great Denzel Washington. He's happy to be here in Oslo. So's Anne Hathaway, presumably. They told some Norwegian reporters they were, at least. Incredibly irrelevant information, since they would say they were happy about it no matter what they were feeling. It's like asking an athlete who just won an Olympic medal Are you happy about winning? Who the fuck cares what the guy says, we already know the answer! On a day like today, this is what our media is reduced to. Argh.
Anyway ... that's a minor annoyance, my major beef here is that I don't understand what these people are even doing here. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Denzel Washington or Anne Hathaway as such. (I especially have nothing against Denzel Washington. Mmm ... Denzel Washington ...) I just don't understand what they're doing here, now? They are going to be the hosts of the Nobel Concert tomorrow. Why? WTF do they have to do with anything? With Alfred Nobel, with the Peace Prize, with Norway, with Oslo, with the laureate, with ANYTHING related to any of this? The answer is nothing. So what are they doing here? It's so weird. It's just a practice that I don't understand on almost any level. They are celebrities. That's why they're here. They have no other qualification or relevance whatsoever. If I was one of them I would be embarrassed to be here. Almost as much as their president was last year. >:-)
But of course they are major Hollywood celebrities and as such can be expected to live in a bubble of adulation and undeserved respect through which reality can penetrate only with difficulty.
I just think it's completely stupid and rather disgusting to bring in these totally irrelevant celebrities to present this thing, as if they have something to do with it. Same thing with the performers at the concert. Barry Manilow? Herbie Hancock? Robyn? I'm sure it ups ratings. But it's still stupid and pathetic, it makes the concert irrelevant to the Prize, and it means a series of wasted opportunities. The Prize is Norwegian, awarded by Norwegians. Why isn't it presented by Norwegians, just because they wouldn't be as famous as Tom Cruise or Oprah Winfrey? This year the winner is Chinese - so why not have the concert be a presentation of Chinese music and dance? Last year the winner was American, they could have had Manilow and Hancock then. Why create this mishmash of performers from various irrelevant places and ignore the potential connection they could have created to the winner's home and history?
Sorry, I just had to say it. This has been annoying me for years, it had to come out sometime. :-) Of course this post ought to be about this year's winner, Liu Xiaobo ... who cannot say that he is happy to be here, since he is not here, but in a prison in China that at least Norwegian reporters are forbidden from even photographing. Of course this isn't the first time the winner has been prevented from coming to Oslo to accept the Prize. Perhaps most memorably, Aung San Suu Kyi was not able to leave Burma 19 years ago ... but her two teenage sons came to Oslo and accepted the Prize on their mother's behalf. It was actually quite moving. However, this year there is no one here who can represent the winner. No one has been allowed to come. I find this very interesting.
Liu Xiaobo's problems stem from his speaking out against the Chinese regime, which in his opinion is oppressive and dictatorial. His government call him a liar for it and imprison him. Now we award him the Peace Prize, and they are enraged ... again saying that he is a liar and a criminal. So of course he is not permitted to travel here for the ceremony, and neither is anyone else whom we could have accepted as his representative ... his wife, a relative, a close colleague, someone. In doing so they are following - let's call it an interesting tradition. This is only the second time this has happened in the Prize's more than century-long history. The only other Nobel laureate who has ever been denied the right to send a representative to Oslo is Carl von Ossietzky, who was likewise imprisoned by the regime under which he lived, the Third Reich.
Way to associate yourselves with all the right people, Beijing.
Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo, and fingers crossed for his future and for the future of the Chinese people.
I was going to write about the Data Retention Directive today too, but now I'm just too sleepy and the little guys need to eat. It'll have to keep till tomorrow.
2 days ago