Belfast Telegraph

Why celebrities should keep at arm's length from the US students who are the real voice of the gun law protests

By Lindy McDowell

Hey, celebrities, leave them kids alone... Watching at the weekend, those moving scenes of American youth taking to the streets in their hundreds of thousands to protest against guns in general, the NRA (National Rifle Association) in particular and, above all, US politicians who are in that organisation's pocket, you did - almost - get a sense that revolution was in the air.

The new face of a new generation.

Almost...

But when the cameras honed in, it was upon the same old celebs. The usual starry advance guard pouting solidarity and hogging the limelight.

George and Amal Clooney were there looking, as ever these days, like a couple already sizing up new curtains for the White House.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, it goes without saying. Accompanied by the photogenic North. And their usual team of flunkies.

Dennis Rodman - Kim Jong-Un's big mate.

Cynthia Nixon who used to be in Sex in the City but now wants to be in office - she's currently running for Governor of New York.

And...

The list goes on and on. Singers, actresses, chat show hosts, comics. The cameras had a field day. It was all about them.

Yes, there was coverage too of those remarkable student speakers, so many of them, particularly the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, who spoke with such eloquence - an eloquence born of anger as much as trauma.

But inevitably the big names kept elbowing into the big picture.

Some may have some excuse.

Who could fail to be moved by an appearance at one event by Ariana Grande? And while I'm not a great fan of Paul McCartney, his reference to a friend killed "not far from here" resonated with understatement.

The New York Post has previously highlighted what it describes as "the celebrification" of politics. But this is part of something wider than that.

Spot any high profile campaign or cause these days and the rich and famous see it as an opportunity to raise their own profile.

Some might argue their support is invaluable in drawing attention to that cause.

But Saturday's marches didn't need celebrity sanction.

For me the clearest, most powerful voices include an 11-year-old girl who told one interviewer apropos the notion of arming teachers: "I think guns are dumb. It's scary enough with the security guards we have in school.

"We don't need teachers carrying guns now."

"I find it amazing," she added, "that I have to explain that idea to adults."

On the same subject, a teacher elsewhere was honest enough to admit: "We had students ask, when we have drill, you know, what would happen. And … I've told them, I would get in front of you. And I mean, that's a noble idea, but it's also scary.

"I don't want to have to get in front of them."

But despite these clarion voices, the celebrification of the marches (and other similar protests) creates the impression that you're just watching the same old clips you've already seen a thousand times before.

This "revolution" comes encumbered with the big name cast list of the last one. And the one before that.

Protest marching is now as much a part of showbiz as tottering up the red carpet. Which is fine until the 'stars' begin eclipsing the whole point of the protest. The whole point of the protest is the protest. It's not about celebs making themselves look good...

It rarely works out that way anyway. If only because, for the watching audience, celeb saintliness is generally too much to stomach.

We were talking about this with our friend Val the other day and he told me what is, apparently, an old joke, but one I hadn't heard before...

What's the difference between Jesus and Bono?

Answer.

Jesus doesn't go around Dublin pretending he's Bono.

Toilet humour unlikely to wash in palace

A fascinating new biography of Prince Charles, by Tom Bower, is unlikely to be favourite reading at Highgrove any time soon.

As with various other forerunners, it focuses much on princely petulance and foot-stomping, particularly over Charles' campaign to have Camilla accepted not only by Her Majesty, but by the public at large.

Unfortunately for Chas, this new book may have set the project back a bit claiming, as it does (among other things), that Camilla once papered her downstairs loo with unflattering cartoons of her rival Diana. Really? Miaooow!

Non-stop flight is too much of a marathon

The good news - the first non-stop flight from Perth in Australia to the UK touched down this week.

Over 9,000 miles in 17 hours. Or to put it another way, in much the same time it takes to get up the Lisburn Road at rush hour. This non-stop success is undoubtedly a giant step forward for mankind.

Albeit a challenge for smokers. And first reports were ecstatic. Despite being disappointed by lack of free wifi, they praised the food, the complimentary pillow and a "pantry" with free snacks. Off then to a flying start. I'd give it a month...

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