Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

An intelligent letter from a reader, Stanislas Yassukovich CBE, warms my heart. It's nice to know there are others as appalled as I am by today's so-called elite's ghastly manners. Good manners, a rarity these days, are not a superficial activity. They serve a moral purpose, that of an inner unselfishness, a readiness to put others first. They are the opposite of brute force, concealing man's natural belligerence. After the Titanic went down, it was revealed that first-class passengers had died in disproportionate numbers because they had queued in an orderly manner for a lifeboat. Forget the movie, that was Hollywood bullshit; Astor and Guggenheim, the two richest on board, chose not even to try to save themselves.

And speaking of Hollywood, where bad manners got their start, selfishly hostile behaviour among stars is as common as name-dropping, and diva-like attitudes have filtered down to their personal assistants, publicists, managers, trainers, stylists and nutritionists, not to mention their bodyguards. I once asked Martin Scorsese why he included so much swearing in his films, and cinema verite was his answer. In his movie GoodFellas, the F-word was used 212 times, whereas in the 1971 film Dirty Harry, despite the violence, it was used only once.

What I don't understand (actually, I do) is why producers and directors and of course writers choose a constant diet of filth in their shows, and when I say filth I mean the most puerile and degrading kind. Well, I'll tell you: lack of talent. The F-word, used with lots of blood and explosions, covers up their inability to tell a clean story without the audience falling asleep or falling over themselves running for the exits. Most great books contained no filth -- the writers left that to the imagination of the reader. Needless to say, by now the battle for decency has been lost, what with the epidemic of vile, coarse texting in the schools where our future captains of industry and government are being 'educated'. No society has been corroded as ours has, and don't believe those Roman orgies ever took place (if they did they were behind Roman walls among patricians).

Patricians, of course, are no longer what they used to be. Here's my correspondent writing: 'It is not only striking that new money now rejects the taste and lifestyle of old money; manners and general behaviour are also unrecognisable. Both parents and children converse in strident tones and at a volume level suitable for a disco.' Yes, new money no longer apes old money and its manners, and this makes for a zoo-like atmosphere. …

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