As surely as night follows day, rest assured that in an interview, a celebrity will be asked for their opinion on a major social movement: Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, the war in Ukraine, transgender rights.
Some enjoy it and are flattered that their opinions seem to carry weight and influence. Others screw it up completely, spouting ill-considered nonsense and ending up in some sort of “clickbait roadkill” scenario.
And then there’s Graham Norton, who this week delivered an absolute masterclass on how these questions should really be answered by celebrities.
In a stage interview with Mariella Frostrop for Times Radio, Norton was asked about the culture of abandonment. No wonder: It’s a controversial subject in the world of celebrity, and even more so in the world of comedy, which is where Norton’s career originated.
When asked by Frostrup about JK Rowling, transphobia, and Rowling’s experiences in the culture wars, Norton deftly responded with an answer that many of his industry peers could learn a thing or two from.
“What strikes me as odd is that if I’m asked about it, I become part of the discussion,” Norton said. “All I’m painfully aware of is that my vote contributes nothing to this discussion.
“I’m kind of embarrassed that I’m kind of being drawn into it. If people want to shed some light on these issues – and I hope people do – talk to trans people, talk to the parents of trans kids. Talk to Doctors and Psychiatrists Talk to someone who can shed some light on this.
“I’m very aware that as a ‘guy from TV’ your voice can be artificially amplified,” Norton added. “And once in a blue moon that can be good, but most of the time it’s just a distraction.
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“If you want to talk about something, talk about it. You don’t have to attach a Kardashian to a serious topic — the topic should do the trick.
“It’s the Michael Gove thing [‘We’ve had enough of experts”] but can we have some experts please? Can we find some damn experts and talk to them instead of men in shiny pink suits,” he added while wearing a pink suit.
It may be a moment of false modesty on Norton’s part, but I doubt it. Norton has seen firsthand what happens to celebrities who engage in this debate.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s safe to assume that Norton has an opinion on trans rights. But, as he rightly points out, the simple fact of being a celebrity shouldn’t offer you a megaphone.
In all fairness, Norton’s response, totally ego-free and full of common sense, should be copied and pasted into each individual celebrity’s handbook prior to any media or public interview.
Because what Norton is saying here about the ongoing trans debate seems to have escaped the notice of so many celebs and Blokes Off The Telly — no matter what you think.
When it’s your turn island of love, or when a new single comes out, we really can live without your take on so many things. As Norton rightly points out, you only offer yourself as grist for the clickbait mill.
Whether out of selfishness or a genuine desire to use their platform or influence for good, celebrities are quick to plunge into divisive issues they ultimately have next to no expertise on.
The only people I want to hear about such issues are the people who are directly affected by it, for whom it is their daily reality.
Life – serious, real life – through a celebrity’s lens is often of little use to others.
And trust me when I say I understand the irony of using a celebrity’s name to convey a salient point here. Hoping that others will stick with what they know and leave the expertise… well, to the experts.
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-news/graham-nortons-response-to-a-question-about-cancel-culture-was-masterful-and-its-going-viral-42064903.html Graham Norton’s answer to a question about abandonment culture was masterful — and it’s going viral