Thursday, February 27, 2003

I Want Your Pax

"George Michael - Pop star" read the caption on last night's Hardtalk, although to be accurate and cruel, it's a while since he's been either pop or much of a star. But he was here to talk war.

The new BBC news studios ill-serve the format, by the way - those hideous IKEA plastic circular tables on the raised bistro-style stripped wood flooring look uncomfortable enough at the best of times, but the width of them left Tim Sebastian and Michael sat to the side, awkwardly twisted, like two men in a crowded bar.

The main meat of his opinion had already been floated through the news - that an anti-war Band Aid would be a bad idea. Perhaps a bit unfairly, the early reports had suggested George had dismissed the plan as being ill-judged because he thought the participants were young and stupid, but his point was actually a bit more subtle than that - the current crop of chart stars are known for singing anything that's put in front of them, so if they sang "No more war", it wouldn't have the same impact as if they were known for writing their own feelings and opinions into songs - which is a fair point. You also can't disagree with him when he snorts that Noel Gallagher is "not an intelligent man", and his reaction to Sebastian's suggestion that he should stick the time-honoured rock star subject of Just Say No was splendid - "I take drugs. I'm not a hypocrite."

The trouble is, of course, that George came off as a little too pleased with himself - he took the Shoot The Dog controv on the chin, but suggested that if he'd not made the record, it would have been another three weeks before the public would have heard about the Iraq conflict; and he also left himself totally exposed on the question anyone against the war should expect - "what's the other option? would you leave saddam in power?" Michael's response was curiously "Saddam must go in the way Saddam must go, but not now." Which is simultaneously lacking in the how, and - more curiously - suggesting that early March is a lousy time for freeing a people from the yoke of oppression, and maybe we should leave it until July?

There's a report on the meeting on the BBC News website - filed, you'll note, under entertainment and not politics.

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