Yesterday, after going cold turkey for 37 days (yes, I was counting), I reactivated my facebook account. Who knows what precipitated this move: a fear that a big party’s going on somewhere and I’m not invited? Nosiness? A nagging suspicion that if I’m no longer parading myself on my very own cyber-rag then I’m not really here at all? A messy flat and some reading that needs avoiding? Anyway, whatever the real reason, the one I gave was that I needed to re-emerge to tell the world how truly crap ‘Lincoln’ is.
And truly, it is. I mean Spielberg can put a slick film together, we all know that, and if painting by numbers is your thing, and you like those numbers to add up to a Jack Vettriano, then maybe you’ll go for ‘Lincoln’. I was left cold. And just a little irritated. Of all the complex stories that could have been told about the 16th President of the USA, the workings on Capitol Hill, the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery, this film seems to have opted for the most crassly simplistic, one dimensional, hero-worshipping, whitewashing one of all. Really, he should have stuck to sharks and aliens. Oh, and I liked that one about the truck.
Daniel Day-Lewis, all got up in comedy whiskers and a death-like pallor, chanelled his inner Atticus (Henry Fonda did better) while marginal, simple black folk look on in admiration. Or is it adoration? Really, 50 plus years ago when Harper Lee gave us such sorry representations of black characters in ‘Mockingbird’, we winced a bit, but let it pass. The civil rights movement was in its infancy, ‘black power’ hadn’t yet taken centre stage, in its own way the work was revelatory, and, importantly, the whole thing was couched in such sublime prose you’d forgive it almost anything. But you’d think in 2013, what with a black President ‘n’ all, a little human complexity could be given a voice. To be fair on the great SS though, this cartoonish representation isn’t reserved solely for his black characters: no-one really escapes the flattening. I expected Mickey Mouse to pop up with a frying pan at any moment and literally flatten the lot of ’em. At one point, an actual mouse did scuttle across the bottom of the screen, projecting a cheeky black shadow in its wake. Honestly. The Barbican really ought to contact pest control.
Back to the reactivation of my facebook account, though. The first thing I noticed was that my roll-call of friends had decreased in number. I had expected this, but what was marginally interesting is that I have no idea who the hell are no longer my facebook friends. Scroll down and stare as I might at image after image, the absent faces do not present themselves to my mind. Not revelatory, I know, but this does highlight the very particular nature of being a ‘facebook friend’. I took another look at my friends list and at a rough guess, I reckon that fewer than 20% of those on it are actually, in the traditional sense of “I like you, you like me, let’s sit in the pub and have a beer together”, friends. Am I missing the point of facebook?