George Clooney's Esquire blunder

The actor's made some ungracious remarks in a recent magazine interview

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Has George Clooney scored a spectacular own goal?  The Hollywood heart-throb complains in the current Esquire about the pros and cons of renown – he hasn’t been able to walk in Central Park for 15 years, poor baby – and says the stars of Hollywood’s golden age would have been unequipped to deal with modern pressures.

Out of nowhere, he adds: “The truth of the matter is, if you’re going to do a movie for $15m, then almost invariably it means it’s a shtty movie.” Apart from the implied slap in the face to those Ocean’s 11 films, for which he surely received close to $15m, his ungracious remark ignores some basic tenets of Old Hollywood: that the true star was always bigger than the picture; that, no matter how trite the plot, audiences went to see the star anyway, and that’s what made him/her worth $15m to the studios. The old Hollywood stars knew that, pocketed the dough and dazzled for the cameras. And they didn’t whinge about their, you know, vastly unwelcome schlock-money.

We the sophisticated Neanderthals

According to my dictionary, “Neanderthal” means “a type of man widely distributed in paleolithic Europe, with retreating forehead and massive brow-ridges” who lived in a cave, ate flesh, hunted all day and treated womenfolk with nuance-free directness. They’ve become a byword in uncivilised behaviour patterns, cognate with modern students or darts players. But a study in the Canadian Journal of Archaeology reports that, contrary to popular myth, Neanderthals were a sophisticated, house-proud people.  They cut up food in a different place from the place they slept in. They disposed of bones outside the cave mouth, as though anticipating a wheelie-bin. They kept sharp objects away from naked feet, though years would pass before anyone invented the knife block. They organised their living space with purpose and focus, like modern interior decorators dealing in feng shui. They gathered around the fire every night to communicate, watching the flames as though inspecting a rudimentary DVD. I like this spick-and-span version of our supposedly gross ancestors. It’s interesting to discover that, in the hierarchy of human needs, after food, drink, shelter and companionship there comes a triple obsession with Tidying Up, Putting Things Away and Getting the Dyson Out.

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