Friday, April 09, 2010

Sir Michael Caine and the imperative of celebrity endorsement


Some will squirm, some will be repulsed, and some will want to vomit.

Some will be delighted, some deeply impressed, and some won’t have a clue who the old fogey is.

Whatever the reaction, the reality is that celebrity endorsement works: advertising agencies pay millions to have the face (or torsos) of Tiger Woods David Beckham adorn their product. And political parties, like all brands, bask in the reflected glory of the luminaries who endorse them.

The Liberal Democrats have John Cleese.

The SNP have Sir Sean Connery.

And Labour have Jesus.

So for the Conservatives to get Sir Michael Caine really is quite a coup.

He is, after all, an Oscar-winner, a knight of the realm and a national institution.

The Tories used to have Jim Davidson, but he was really only good for the odd fund-raiser

And Leslie Crowther was well past his sell-by date.

But neither brought in the votes.

Tony Blair tried to put sparkle into his ‘Cool Britannia’ fad by being photographed with Damon Albarn, and Noel Gallagher. And he also recruited Delia Smith.

Gosh. There's a coup.

Not to mention Prunella Scales, Maureen Lipman, Richard Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Beverley Knight and Lord Attenborough.

And Sir Alex Ferguson was sufficiently impressed by Tony Blair in 2005 to declare: “This Labour government has led this country into a period of unparalleled prosperity.”

Wonder what he’d say now.

Richard Dawkins endorses the Liberal Democrats.

That explains a lot.

Much of it is, of course, about self promotion, mutual congratulation, ego boosting and career enhancement.

But Sir Michael Caine has absolutely nothing to gain from endorsing David Cameron’s ‘National Citizen Service’.

Indeed, it might even cost him a job or two and even a few friends, for luvvie-land is not known to be Tory-friendly territory.

Sir Michael is, quite possibly, the most significant celebrity endorsement the Conservative Party has ever won. Not least because he is not remotely ‘showbiz’: he is utterly straightforward, approachable and down-to-earth; the sort of bloke you’d happily have a pint with in a pub. His mother was a charlady and his father a porter in a fish market; he was brought up in the Elephant & Castle, a distinctly working-class area of South London, and managed to lift himself out of poverty thanks to ‘a loving family, a loving father and a (grammar-school) education’.

David Cameron needs precisely this sort of quality celebrity at his side, not least because neither he nor George Osborne (nor, indeed, many of his front bench) exude the common touch.

He lost David Davis to the back benches.

Contrast Sir Michael and David Cameron with Tony Blair and Sir Gandalf Ian McKellan – and they don’t come much more aloof, pompous, pretentious and ‘showbiz’ than he. It was clear from the outset that Sir Ian’s support for Labour was contingent upon them pushing his gay rights and equality agenda.

Which they dutifully did.

So Sir Ian kept on singing Mr Blair’s praises.

But Sir Michael Caine has come out for the Conservatives with no agenda at all.

It is the sort of anointing which politicians have always sought.

Because the present cult of celebrity is really only a postmodern development of the Jewish cultus and priestly anointing.

Tutankhamun was anointed by Horus; Solomon was anointed by Zadok; Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III; Tony Blair assiduously (and successfully) courted Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; and Gordon Brown has bent over backwards to win the support Cardinal Keith O’Brien (he failed) and to bring Pope Benedict XVI to these shores (he succeeded, but His Holiness was too shrewd to be used as an electoral prop).

No-one really bothers any more with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

While prophets and priests used to sway the throng, now we have the idolatry of actors, models, footballers, and popstars. While people used to drink deeply of the riches of sacred Scripture, now they imbibe the profane sound-bites and instant pap of magazines, newspapers and the internet. While they used to attend their temples of worship assiduously, now they make daily offerings to the cuboid box or flat-screen panel in the corner of their lounge. Where there used to be industry, authenticity and profundity, there is instead apathy, trivia and dumbing down.

But this is the spirit of the age.

Politicians cannot change it. If they wish to remain relevant, they must embrace the idols of the masses and communicate in the vernacular.

And David Beckham speaks more eloquently than a thousand politicians.

Not with his mouth, of course.

But Sir Michael Caine opens his mouth, and he is everything that David Cameron is not and can never be.

And that is worth quite a few thousand votes.

All he needs now is Lady Gaga.

50 Comments:

Blogger Quiet_Man said...

Ah, the old cult of personality, I do wish they wouldn't do it, it only distracts from the policies and in no way enhances them. If anything the celebs come away slightly tarnished (if they are lucky) from proximity to the politicians.

9 April 2010 at 04:59  
Anonymous no nonny said...

The only thing I remember about Caine is the line in one of his films about the nasty new red euro 'passports' - his character hated them. So do I.

Apparently the real Caine doesn't. So I won't be voting for his endorsement.

9 April 2010 at 05:57  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I think Sir Michael Caine , having his view is a good thing , no family, drugs, guns was bound to have multiple casualties .I like what he said about what he had seen .
Theres somthing slightly gutsey about this iniative that I like , that line that its cheaper to educate than prison really struck home , about how the social breakdown that has occured under Labour affects us all including the wallet .

certainly more substantial than a group hug , but isnt he telling somthing else about how we live , about the robotic and social determinations and how these communites are thinking so cynically.

the one thing I really like David Cameron , is the way he approaches some of the social problems , he doesnt articulate it well sometimes , but he seems to find good answers , much more thoughtfull than previous conservative leaders.

I know some may say it looks like soft soap and I wonder myself how far you can go with , middle class therapys , but thus far he seems to have assembled a good mix of examination and treatment . It may well sound a bit dinner party at the moment and wishfull , designer , but I think over time , if his team stick at the cure it should deliver some good results .

They make the occasional off notes like middleclass people do , but overall I think he is genuinely trying to understand what is wrong and how to put it right , which will take time and implimenting the concepts .

But so far I am impressed with some of his education and social dimensions that is developing in his party . I hope he does get in and cleans out the sytems that are all too political in function and have lost there way.

I see Ed Balls has dropped his sex education for 5 year olds , I mean what on earth was going on his mind to want to impliment such an idea , its almost sinister when you think about it . And yet he trys to impliment that when 40% of children leave primary school unable to read or write , the very basics to knowledge aquisition and after 13 years he cant even get that right .

9 April 2010 at 07:02  
Blogger Gnostic said...

It's ironic that Michael Caine has decided to pitch in for Cameron because right now the Cameroons are like that coach perched precariously over a bloody big cliff at the end of the Italian Job. I'm hoping it'll plummet into the abyss and take the not-the-Tories with it.

Verification itallyc

9 April 2010 at 07:08  
Anonymous len said...

'And Labour have Jesus'
Not!


Reverend George Hargreaves, who leads the conservative Christian Party, said people were “sick” of “Labour’s anti-Christian, anti-free speech agenda and laws”.
Rev Hargreaves said: “Christians in the past may have voted Labour, but [they] have silenced Christians and their anti-traditional family policies have created a vacuum which Nick Griffin can fill."

9 April 2010 at 07:53  
Anonymous Tony B said...

In other words, the Reverend George Hargreaves is saying that Conservative Christians will support fascists. Nothing new there.

9 April 2010 at 08:08  
Anonymous len said...

No.
read again.

9 April 2010 at 08:23  
Anonymous len said...

It was precisely there fact that Hitler silenced the voice of the true Church in Nazi Germany that cleared the way for Fascism to take over.
When a spiritual vacuum is created forces of evil will rush to fill it.
This is what the Labour Government is doing ( whether knowingly or not.)

Read what happened to the true Christians in Germany,many if not most ended up in the death camps . Also in Russia when the Marxists took over.

9 April 2010 at 08:37  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Ien, yes, that is exactly the implication. You read it again.

9 April 2010 at 09:09  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Ah but! Does he pay UK taxes or indeed live in the UK? - Then again, I suppose that's a bit of an irrelevance to the Tories

9 April 2010 at 09:25  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Celebrity endorsement is not without risk as the brand can quickly become contaminated by celeb misdemeanours. Michael Caine however is a brilliant choice, a much loved authentic with (probably) no skeletons in his cupboard. Maybe the Tories should go the whole hog and adopt the Italian Job theme as their election tune, after all self preservation is close to the heart of every politician.

This is the Self Preservation Society,
The Self Preservation Society,

Go wash your German band and boat race too,
Comb your bonny fair; we’ve got a lot to do,
Put on your dickey bow and your Peckham rye,
Cos times soon hurrying by

Get your skates on, mate,
Get your skates on, mate,
No bib around your Gregory Peck today.
Hey!
Drop your plates of meat
Right upon the seat,

This is the Self Preservation Society,
The Self Preservation Society,

Put on your almond rocks and daisy roots,
Brush your Hampstead Heath; wear your whistle and flute,
Lots of la-di-dahs and cockneys here,
Look alive and get in your gear

Get your skates on, mate,
Get your skates on, mate,
No bib around your Gregory Peck today.
Hey!
Drop your plates of meat
Right upon the seat

This is the Self Preservation Society,
The Self Preservation Society.

9 April 2010 at 09:32  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

To help Cameron communicate with Sauf Lundn maybe we could provide him with a lexicon of useful Rhyming Slang, here’s a start but I bet you can improve on it.

God bender (faith agenda)
Beez & Kuooz (family values)
Natty flies (National Insurance rise)
Luvly dawta (clear blur water)
Sod ya naybor (Labour)
Men in tights (Gay rights)
Look ‘ere son (Peter Mandleson)
Cannibal Lector (Public Sector)
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Euroland)
Under the table (Vince Cable)
Blakz ‘n Ayzun (Immigration)
Must be pissed (atheist)

9 April 2010 at 10:25  
Blogger Preacher said...

Mr Davis.
I think you are confusing South London with East London. Rhyming slang has never been part of the vernacular in that suburb & as it now boasts so many residents from "across the river" it is known as South Chelsea I don't think that D.C will have much trouble communicating there.
Nice try pal but no cigar as we use to say at the Battersea Park funfair many years ago.

9 April 2010 at 10:52  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Preacher...

I beg to differ. As a frequent habitué in my yoof of some of the seamier dives in Old Kent Road and Bermondsey I can assure you that RS was spoken by at least some of the natives. I felt almost posh coming from Croydon!

9 April 2010 at 10:57  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

What sort of commentary is provided by the apparent fact that many electors are likely to be influenced by the opinions of celebrities?

There seems little doubt that we have sunk so low that we really believe that the endorsements of people who can learn and declaim lines of script, or who can tell jokes, or who can kick a football or play a guitar, are significant.

But celebrities have no greater understanding of politics or economics than people without those accomplishments.

Not many people seem to know that.

9 April 2010 at 11:00  
Blogger Preacher said...

Mr Davis.
To mispronounce is fine (i.e yoof)
but anything West of say The Elephant had a distinct South London Accent, residents in Bermondsey lived in the borders & so developed or aped their cousins from further East. The real Cockney had to be born within the sound of Bow Bells in East London, where back slang was also developed to avoid certain people of the constabulary from hearing 'private conversations'.
Perhaps some of the local lads in the dives you used to visit saw that you were a posh lad & laid it on a bit thick to impress? I well remember many Londoners suddenly becoming scousers when the Mersey sound was big as the girls had a thing for liverpool cool, even if they didn't know quite where it was situated, being somewhere North of Watford.

9 April 2010 at 11:30  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

'All he needs now is Lady Gaga.'

What has Thatcher got to do with it?

9 April 2010 at 11:34  
Blogger Preacher said...

It Looks like D.C & M.C are sitting in the one & nines at the old flea pit, seems they are enjoying the film though, perhaps a re-run of The Italian Job? Oh the days when ice cream 6d a tub from the girl with the tray & a carton of Kia Ora was 1/-, now you need a mortgage to get a carton of popcorn in the Deluxy.

9 April 2010 at 11:40  
Anonymous A DEMOCRATIC U.K.? said...

Lady Gaga? Otherwise known as Theresa May?

9 April 2010 at 12:48  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

A DEMOCRATIC U.K.? wrote
'Lady Gaga? Otherwise known as Theresa May?'

No, ADU; that's LADY Gaga.

9 April 2010 at 13:25  
Blogger William said...

Mr Anabaptist

Do you have some knowledge of Theresa May that suggests she is not a lady?

9 April 2010 at 13:55  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

A National Citizen Service is a good step forward for our country’s youth. However, I would much prefer to see a form of national military service established for those who have been unemployed for 12 months.

I have seen the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the Army take in young men and women who had poor prospects and turn them into self-respecting and neighbour-respecting men and women. Many have come out of the military speaking Russian or another foreign language and are able to repair helicopters, for example.

Many are able, therefore, to work anywhere in the world, raise families and contribute to society.

And you are right about the Archbishop of Canterbury; he does not listen to his flock and his flock's ears are deaf to his pronouncements.

Next time you bump into him ask him if he cares for the Church in the same way he cares for his wife.

9 April 2010 at 14:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis at 9.32 am

Wonderful post!

9 April 2010 at 14:14  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr William: Nothing beyond what may be deduced from her behaviour on TV, radio and press interviews and comment.

Do you have some knowledge of her that suggests she is gaga?

9 April 2010 at 14:41  
Blogger The Merry Man said...

Your Grace,

Personally I care not for whichever celeb supports whatever party.

This Service idea sounds like utter unworkable non-sense,at best like a watered down Conscription,at worst Indoctrination.

Treating all our youngest citizens like they are all special cases,not conforming to the will of the state,who need to be ordered around and indoctrinated by the state.

How on earth are all these youngsters going to be forced into menial superficial tasks,while having some form of Nationalism rammed down their throats ,threats of punishment?.

It seems to me a sinister, blunt unimaginative way to treat our young people..who I believe will on the whole simply resent the state interference in their lives thus being counter productive.

What are the Tories up to,taking away young people to mould into who knows what.....dodgy very very dodgy

9 April 2010 at 14:47  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Quotes from DC...
"a kind of non-military national service – a two-month programme for sixteen year-olds to come together in common purpose. It’s going to mix young people from different backgrounds, different ethnicities and religions, in a way that doesn’t happen right now. It’s going to teach them what it means to be socially responsible by asking them to serve their communities. Above all it’s going to help a generation of young people to appreciate what they can achieve. For themselves, and by themselves. Gandhi put it beautifully, as he did so often: ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

As a political neutral I find the National Citizen Service a compelling idea without pushing an overt political agenda.

I would add to this my own proposal:
To create a more employable workforce all students aged 16 to undertake a General Competence Exit exam before they can leave school or seek work. If they fail they remain in school and will keep retaking it until age 19. (this is in addition to GCSE exams but these are not subject to an exit grade)

9 April 2010 at 15:18  
Anonymous not a machine said...

The Merry Man :you seem to omitt the fact that the kids are already indoctrinated , but you seem not to think its a bad choice , how erm very lib dem of you .

9 April 2010 at 15:29  
Blogger The Merry Man said...

not a machine said...

The Merry Man :you seem to omitt the fact that the kids are already indoctrinated , but you seem not to think its a bad choice , how erm very lib dem of you .


Fool,
by the very nature of my comment it would be obvious to anyone who could resist the temptations of assumption that I do not condone Indoctrination or state coercion of any kind....how er very assumptive of you!...:-)

9 April 2010 at 15:55  
Blogger The Merry Man said...

You name yourself NOT A MACHINE,but your thinking is mechanical..

9 April 2010 at 15:56  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Graham Davis wrote:
'To create a more employable workforce all students aged 16 to undertake a General Competence Exit exam before they can leave school or seek work. If they fail they remain in school and will keep retaking it until age 19.'

I think this idea has a lot of merit, but there are some questions:

First, by whom would the exam would be produced and assessed?
If it teacher-assessed, it will be subject to the same coursework problems which bedevil the current GCSE.

Second, how would this deal with school refusers (i.e. truants)? They are probably the people who would do worst in the proposed test. And how, then, would you compel 16-19-year-olds to turn up?

Might it not be better to have an eternally marked (or externally monitored) formal matriculation test at the end of each school year, without passing which pupils ('students' as we are now supposed to call them) retake the year and have to put up with the company of younger kids? That would at least contain the problem into one-year blocks, and start the solution before the kids are too big and hairy to be coped with.

Part of the problem, I think, rests with the loss of authority by teachers, in itself a symptom of the general departure of deference. Part lies with the indoctrination of teachers, who are taught to believe that children should be responsible for their own 'learning', and that education is all about inclulcating 'values' and getting things out of the kids, for whom opportunities to learn should be provided and 'facilitated'.

I have often heard the phrase 'So-and-so gets a lot out of the kids,' whereas So-and-so should in fact be putting a lot into the kids.

I think we have probably wandered some way from the point of this discussion.

9 April 2010 at 16:06  
Anonymous Charities Parliament said...

Pre election campaigning is getting more and more American by the week

9 April 2010 at 16:07  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Which one is the celebrity, is it the senile looking fella with the daft grin, or the guy wearing glasses.

Signed: Mr Magoo

9 April 2010 at 16:53  
Anonymous not a machine said...

The Merry man :how very um er unmerry of you.

you still make no distinction in your outline wether one is better than the other , I like some critiscism , but please try and base it on some evidence .Do you believe that kids are learning the right things or not , and are you a lib dem .

9 April 2010 at 17:36  
Anonymous GTGTWG said...

Who cares what any actor, singer, or sports personality says? They should be campaigning with tax payers...you know the ones they live off? Bring on Joe the f*&^ing plumber! When it boils down to it none of 'em give a toss. They're all lining their own pockets, and the working man is nothing but a slave! So sod F*&^ing Mike Caine!!!!

9 April 2010 at 17:39  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Anabaptist said....
First, by whom would the exam would be produced and assessed?
If it teacher-assessed, it will be subject to the same coursework problems which bedevil the current GCSE.

I don’t see the exam as being very complex, reasonable literacy, numeracy and communications skills and no coursework. The big problem would be the remedial program to get the failures to the required level of competence.

Second, how would this deal with school refusers (i.e. truants)? They are probably the people who would do worst in the proposed test. And how, then, would you compel 16-19-year-olds to turn up?
Compulsion would be difficult but they would not be allowed to enter employment or receive benefits and would not be able to apply for a driving license without a pass.

Might it not be better to have an eternally marked (or externally monitored) formal matriculation test at the end of each school year, without passing which pupils ('students' as we are now supposed to call them) retake the year.
Yes this is a good idea and I would do this as well.

9 April 2010 at 17:46  
Anonymous Oswin said...

I have nothing against Zulus per se; but perhaps Sir Michael might be employed in some advisory capacity whereby the lessons of history are put to topical use?

Is it just me, or can you hear a train in the distance too???

9 April 2010 at 17:55  
Blogger The Merry Man said...

Erm,craaank!,griiiiind!,rev!,splutter!,pop!.

9 April 2010 at 17:57  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The Merry Man - not quite as I remember it; but...

9 April 2010 at 18:07  
Blogger The Merry Man said...

Oswin,

The sound you can hear is the train leaving the station,but Mr Caine is not on it,he has an awards ceremony to grace with his presence and is making a quick get away.

Mr Cameron is hanging out of the window forlornly waving to him whilst a coach load of resentful teenagers sulk and simmer on their way to the re-education camp.

9 April 2010 at 18:29  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

Nice try but no cigar.

The elderly gent made one ferocious ballsing up of his lines. Including endorsing the government.

Hmmm.

9 April 2010 at 18:54  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Actually I'm not too enamoured by this pseudo national service. I was ready to start moving my cross closer to Soamesy when I heard about it, but then I found out that it wasn't real national service. Essentially the Conservatives are going to set up a voluntary volunteers scheme; something that anyone can do already without the Government paying. I should know; the tonne of it I had to do to get into university.

Every time I hear about a Conservative policy that I think is votable, I find out that it is complete tosh. We're going to support marriage! Hooray! Except we're not going to support it we're going to 'recognise' it (and civil partnerships) in the tax system. I think you'll find it's already recognised in the tax system, and I'd much rather it wasn't.

9 April 2010 at 19:16  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

GTGTWG said...
"Who cares what any actor, singer, or sports personality says?"

Like Orthodox Clergy, men in frocks should stick to pantomime and stop scaring children.

Theres something behind you!

And im going to get to the bottom of it.

Signed: Ich Dien

9 April 2010 at 19:45  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

My Lord you are self-evidently smart your Grace.

My hat is as always, off to you.

Your talent for clear communication of the nature of the beast, is only exceeded by your true understanding of same.

However reading your posts always leaves me slightly more depressed. For it reminds me how sadly rare people like yourself are, and how little we hear these days, from those that still remain.

9 April 2010 at 20:17  
Blogger David Wheeler said...

National service was certainly the best thing, that ever happened to me. Nine months of no nonsense discipline.

David Wheeler.

9 April 2010 at 21:13  
Blogger William said...

Mr Anabaptist @ 14:41

Nothing beyond a shoe collection to match Imelda Marcos.

9 April 2010 at 22:13  
Anonymous len said...

"No-one really bothers any more with the Archbishop of Canterbury"

Christians need to getter a little better organised if they want their voice to be heard.Perhaps this is already happening with Westminster Declaration?
While the secular world tries to shout down and suppress the Christian voice support for Christians comes from the most surprising sources, I refer to the article by Dr Taj Hargay.

10 April 2010 at 10:35  
Anonymous len said...

Christians voting for B N P?
B N P are alleged to uphold Christian Values?.
Article by evangelical Alliance denying this, www.eauk.org/articles/bnp-not-representing-christians.cfm

(Bit off thread Y G but important due to earlier comments.)

10 April 2010 at 10:49  
Anonymous len said...

Full article about Rev George Hargreaves,and the B N P.


www.telegraph.co.uk/.../Christians-would-rather-vote-BNP-than-Labour-pastor-claims.html

Tony B you are right in one respect,my apologies, but reading the full article will give a true estimation of the facts and the despair of Christians being sidelined and looking for who might represent them.The traditional church leaders have failed in this respect.
I no way would support the NB N P and would discourage anyone from doing so!
I think George Hargreaves was saying this to shake people out of their complacency.

10 April 2010 at 11:38  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Ien,

you are very gracious, I will give it a read.

10 April 2010 at 18:16  
Blogger Kon Abaga said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

16 April 2010 at 09:29  

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