Belfast Telegraph

Symbolic gestures are simply not enough when it comes to really fighting Hollywood sexism or punishing idiotic NI politicians

By Lindy McDowell

You could be forgiven for thinking that we've cornered the market on symbolism in Northern Ireland with our addiction to flags and emblems.

But nobody does symbolism quite like Hollywood where there is no issue, in-house or international, which can't be turned into a social media 'campaign' with a zippy hashtag and no end of pious, po-faced players lining up to express solidarity.

Take this year's Golden Globes, where leading women actors (I don't think we're allowed to call them actresses anymore) were encouraged to wear black as a protest against the sex abuse and harassment scandal which has rocked Tinseltown in recent months.

Needless to say, most major players enthusiastically jumped aboard the bandwagon.

The jury may still be out, though, on whether the likes of the outfit worn by Kendall Jenner - a few strips of black see-through net - wholly encapsulated the message about time being up on the sexual objectification of young women in the industry.

But the real question has to be, was there actually any point to this 'protest' at all, other than to make the denizens of Hollywood feel righteous and crusading?

We now know that during the long reign of Harvey Weinstein and his fellow pervs no end of rumours were circulating around the studios about their criminal behaviour.

But no one in a position of influence spoke out. No one asked questions. It was all neatly swept under the red carpet.

Harvey Weinstein wasn't just a Hollywood great. He was, to use Meryl Streep's sycophantic gush during a previous awards ceremony, 'God'.

No wonder he thought he was unassailable.

Streep herself chose black for this year's Golden Globes. A black gown which she accessorised with a human rights activist on her left wrist.

Actions, though, speak louder than hashtags.

And in a week in which Michael Wolff, author of an explosive new book, Fire and Fury, about US President Donald Trump, says he hopes that it will serve as a sort of 'Emperor's New Clothes' wake-up call to Americans about the shortcomings of the so-called Leader of the Free World, all this really amounted to was a movie industry production of Hollywood's New Clothes.

Couture granted.

But we could still see right through them.

The ceremony may have launched television queen Oprah Winfrey, with her dignified and rousing speech, on a trajectory towards the White House.

But otherwise the evening's 'protest' amounted to little more than posturing.

It will take more than an awards' night dress code, a flimsy show of symbolism, to really change the culture in Hollywood.

And to change things here too...

This week's dominating news story in Northern Ireland - one that has made global headlines around the world - is the controversy over Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff, who marked the anniversary of the IRA's sectarian murder of 10 innocent, defenceless workmen with a sickening, mocking online video.

McElduff has since been 'punished' by Sinn Fein who have suspended him for three whole months. Goodness! That'll teach him, eh?

For what, in this instance, does 'suspended' even mean?

It's inconsequential, transparent nonsense. It's Sinn Fein trying to shut down the affair but refusing to deal with the miscreant.

And no wonder they want to close the story down.

As one victim's relative has said, the only positive in this shameful episode is that it has brought the story of the Kingmill massacre to a new generation - and a whole new audience.

With a symbolic slap across the wrist, what Sinn Fein have been attempting is to dress up McElduff's suspension as a real reprimand.

People can see right through that too.

Suitcase plan could drive you mad at airport

Chinese scientists have invented a self-driving suitcase which, apparently, uses facial recognition technology to follow you around the airport.

This is either a thrilling leap forward for hassle-free travel or a further complication. What if there is a mix up with the facial recognition technology and you get someone else’s bag following you? Can you do it for stalking?

And if you have several bags, what happens? Don’t all rush at once on the escalator. Instead of concentrating on the self-driving suitcase, maybe some boffin could take a look at inventing the self-packing bag.

Recipe for success doesn’t need eggs-pert

As a marketing ploy, Cadbury’s special edition white chocolate Creme Eggs take some beating. Around 370 of these special eggs are being released and they contain prizes worth up to £2,000.

It transpires there’s only one £2,000 top prize so it’s not quite the Willy Wonka life-changing win it might at first seem.

Anyway, how to tell if you’ve got a winning egg? Some clever clogs has explained all you have to do is check the ingredients list.

The giveaway is that this will include ‘white chocolate’ as opposed to ‘milk chocolate’.

Only an egghead could have worked that one out.

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