COVID-19 has been proven to be a devastating disease. There is no cure, at least at this moment in time. However a new insidious disease has emerged in our culture, and that is the disease which has already infected and spread amongst the cynical few. It is a seemingly intractable infection which has now poisoned the media.
It seems now that for far too long we have tolerated selfish behaviour, and there is no-one left to speak up for the weak and defenceless. Dominic Cummings flagrantly abused his office and ignored the law, and did not even offer an apology for his actions. Boris Johnson continues to defend him, and his lackeys in the press pour scorn upon the people who are justifiably offended. This just shows how low journalism has sunk. It isn`t the “gutter” press, the press pack now reside much further down the drain. The fact that a pair of entitled, privileged and arrogant men are somehow beyond censure reveals how rotten our culture has become.
It is extremely rare to hear voices which reveal delicacy or subtlety. Instead a new and alarming trend has emerged where aggression and spite dominate the discourse. Ricky Gervais` brand of humour is distinctly abrasive and this has made him very successful and wealthy.
Unfortunately he is also symptomatic of this disease of cynicism and misanthropy. His recent comments about the fashion and beauty industries are revealing. He displays a disturbing bluntness and strange contempt for a creative industry which allows many people, especially women the chance to express themselves. These industries are also a vital part of our economy.
However these attitudes are not new they were prevalent throughout history but in the end were resisted by a great many people. When Oliver Cromwell came to power he imposed an uncompromising and hard line regime in a bid to eliminate all traces of “Popery” from the populace. The results were stark. Clothing was merely functional, along with hair styles cut in the unsophisticated “Roundhead” style. This all changed after the Reformation when a tired and demoralised population yearned for colour and vibrancy after years of functionality and simplicity. This became apparent in the fashions of the day which emerged alongside a blossoming art and literary scene.
In 1930s America society was scarred from years of Economic depression. The arts had suffered after the crash of 1929 but owing to the timely intervention and patronage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt this sector of the economy was eventually saved.
The literature which emerged from this period is tremendously evocative. Carson McCullers for instance writes beautifully about the marginalised but her insightful and humane style of writing would not have been possible in a society like ours. Her voice would not be heard it would be drowned out by more dominant ones, the kind of voices which are self-regarding, cynical and indifferent.
The greatest threat to our health and well being is the culture and style of governing which resembles a dictatorial regime sinking further into degradation.