Topics

Peggy Noonan on George Clooney

“We are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while,” said George Clooney, accepting his Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. “I think it’s probably a good thing,” he added.

Mr. Clooney has transformed himself into a political activist who makes sweeping claims and complaints from the ideological Left. That is not so uncommon in Hollywood, of course. As veteran observers of the glitterati will tell us, actors and actresses often feel the urge to be persons of ideas, after gaining celebrity on the big screen. Often, this effort does not go well, and George Clooney is a case in point. He is glad that Hollywood is “a little bit out of touch,” because that just fuels the celebrity sense of superiority.

Peggy Noonan isn’t buying what Mr. Clooney is selling. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Noonan explained:

George Clooney is Hollywood now. He is charming and beautiful and cool, but he is not Orson Welles. I know that’s like saying of an artist that he’s no Rembrandt, but bear with me because I have a point that I think is worth making. Orson Welles was an artist. George Clooney is a fellow who read an article and now wants to tell us the truth, if we can handle it.

More:

But Mr. Clooney’s remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don’t think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn’t even know he’s not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic.

How could he think this? Maybe part of the answer is in this: The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they’ve experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way they haven’t experienced life; they’ve experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it. And that media itself came from certain assumptions and understandings, and myths.