Instant Opinion

‘Hollywood actors aren’t just icons, they’re people who work’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Clemence Michallon at The Independent

Turns out Nicolas Cage did all those bad movies for a good reason. Who are you to judge him?

on career choices

“In a searingly honest interview” with GQ, Nicolas Cage opens up about his “financial and personal troubles”, writes Clemence Michallon at The Independent. His father died in October 2009, and at the time the Hollywood actor “owed the IRS $14m”. Needing money, Cage “did the thing he knew how to do to earn a living: he acted. And acted. And acted.” He racked up film credits, but “the public didn’t know what to make of Cage’s choices. There was the general sense that a great actor – an Oscar winner – had, for some reason, decided to devote his time to films that didn’t quite seem to match his caliber as a performer.” We tend to think of actors as “icons, as personas”, not “as people who work”. Michallon says we need “to reframe that way of thinking”. No one would find the “long, hard hours… so strange if it happened at any other workplace – why should Hollywood be different?” She thinks “it doesn’t serve anyone to think of creative work only as an ethereal, elusive field”. Really, “it’s work, and we can’t think of it as completely divorced from material reality”. 

2

Con Coughlin at The Telegraph

Britain will never be safe with Armed Forces this weak

on deteriorating defences

Rishi Sunak might think “that a strong economy is our best defence against Russian aggression”, writes The Telegraph’s defence editor Con Coughlin, “but the brutal reality is that the strength of our Armed Forces is the only effective guarantee of our freedoms”. The chancellor “missed a trick in not addressing the crucial issue of defence spending in his Spring Statement”. The Treasury “will no doubt argue that… the government has already done enough to support the Armed Forces”, with an extra £24bn promised for defence over the next four years. But “in their current condition”, our military personnel “are no match for the threat posed by a determined and aggressive foe like Vladimir Putin’s Russia”. Coughlin says that for “too long Conservative chancellors” have “worked on the assumption” that “there is no need to waste money on defence”. The war between Russia and Ukraine has shown that “having properly trained and equipped ground forces is essential to achieving military objectives on the battlefield, and the sad truth is that, in its current depleted state, the British Army would find it difficult to muster the numbers to mount an effective military campaign”.

3

David Andelman at CNN Opinion

Putin just made the case for a European army

on a united force

Four years ago, French president Emmanuel Macron proposed the creation of a European Defence Force. “The result at the time was a rupture between Trump and Macron,” says David Andelman at CNN Opinion. “Macron’s idea went no further. Until now.” Today “it will come to fruition. With Macron in the driver’s seat… the vehicle is called the ‘Strategic Compass’”. A “blueprint for Europe’s security strategy”, it sets out “a context and concept in the strongest, even belligerent language”. Europe “now intends to act, in unison and with determination, to build a powerful military-industrial structure that can spring into action whenever and wherever the collective or even individual interests may be threatened”. Nato and the US should respond with “unquestioned and unquestioning support and encouragement”, says Andelman. Both “failed to intimidate Russia” from launching an attack on Ukraine, so “it’s time to bring other actors to the table”.

4

Lauren Daley at The Boston Globe

Women’s History Month is a pat on the head

on feeling relegated

Lauren Daley had “mixed feelings” when she learnt about Women’s History Month as a child. “Part was embarrassment, almost shame, to be a girl,” she writes at the Boston Globe. “If there’s no special need for ‘Men’s History Month’ – doesn’t that just mean” that boys get “all 12”, she wondered. The month “has always felt to me like a pat on the head, a slice of pink cake, a generic Hallmark card… from the white patriarchy”. Daley understands “certain cultures have their own specific histories and cultures that bind them when we celebrate these months”, but “each March, we corral half a planet… to tell us… We matter despite?” She continues: “It’s not that we shouldn’t celebrate Women’s history, or Black history, or Indigenous People’s Month or any people – it’s that no group deserves to feel relegated to four weeks a year”. As she says: “That’s not inclusivity. That’s isolation.” You’ll find the names of Harriet Tubman, Aretha Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelou when you google Women’s History Month Figures, says Daley, but these women “didn’t shape ‘women’s history’ – they shaped human history”.

5

Robert Peston at The Spectator

Has Rishi Sunak just destroyed his relationship with Boris?

on cuts and rifts 

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has been “explicit about how painful” Rishi Sunak’s “refusal to increase benefits will be for those who rely on them”, writes Robert Peston at The Spectator. “Those who are unemployed, or on very low incomes, or who rely on the state pension, are going to be in dire trouble in coming months.” Compare the “£12bn real cut with the £500m being allocated to local councils” – it’s “a drop in the ocean of the financial pain that will afflict vast numbers of people”. “That said, the Chancellor has allocated £2.4bn to cut the cost of petrol by five pence per litre,” says Peston, “though this is irrelevant to those who can’t afford a car.” Sunak says “he has to be cautious in not spending more”, due to rising inflation and the costs of servicing the government’s debts. But Sunak, “by refusing to offset the damage of inflation – is returning the UK to austerity”. If Boris Johnson and Sunak’s relationship “was bad before the Spring Statement, I would now expect the rift to become almost irreparable”.

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