art humour

What taking fire at an easy target says about a journalist

Yesterday I noticed a tweet from RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan referencing an article in the UK Indepedent about Chris Evan’s recent historic car purchase. Mr. Evans purchased the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of only 36 built. The car was formerly owned by the actor James Coburn and was driven by Steve McQueen. Evans bought immaculate condition, full service history and association with 2 of the “coolest” hollywood stars of a bygone era. You pays your money and takes your choice, as they say. Most of all though, Evans bought art.

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO
1963 Ferrari 250 GTO

From her tweet it’s apparent that Miriam thinks this was the stupid purchase of a self-indulgent twat, in agreement with the Tom Sutcliffe’s article.  Perhaps Chris Evans is a bit of a twat at times but there’s an ideological gap here that needs to be filled. Without wanting to be sexist I think that MOC’s view reflects that of many women (not all Jen :)) but many men would love to be in Evan’s shoes. Rather than focus on a tweet, it’s more interesting to consider the ire of the article’s writer. He’s picked a soft target in Evans due to his past louche behaviour and tabloid fodder reputation. He hasn’t considered that Evans may actually be doing someone worthy or even “moral” gives a few definitions for art

Art (noun) – the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

We had a short discussion about this in the office yesterday and every bloke thought the 250 GTO met these criteria in terms of it’s rarity and beauty. Jokingly we referred to it as “Man Art” but there’s an ironic truth there. Having said that, I know very few women who believe a car can be art but that doesn’t matter really as art-appreciation is subjective. There was certainly a difference of opinion over whether we’d pay 12 Million quid for one but, generally, it was deemed a good thing that someone was preserving such a wonderful piece of engineering combined with what we believed to be fabulous and emotive design. If Chris Evans had spent 12 million pounds on a Picasso would Tom Sutcliffe have written such a patronising and sermonising article? I doubt it very much. A Picasso is accepted to be art so, while Tom could have said the purchase was “conspicuous extravagance” he wouldn’t have been able to dismiss the object itself as a “trinket”. I doubt the article would have been written at all.

The philosopher G.E. Moore’s relatively well known treatise on ethics and morality Principia Ethica (1903) makes a strong case that morality, based on what is “good”, should include the appreciation of beautiful things. In this nuanced appreciation of morality, it is arguable that Evans actions in preserving a piece of what is subjectively considered art by many is an act of moral “goodness”. Conserving the Mona Lisa is considered a societal benefit so why not the 250 GTO? Stick that in your pipe Mr. Sutcliffe.

This piece of IMHO lazy journalism continues to castigate Evans by interpreting his motivations in the worst possible light

…the fact that Evans felt able to boast about this purchase, to flaunt it as a credential of his social worth, surely tells us something about the society we live in – in which a billionaire is more likely to measure his status in terms of super-yacht footage than in charitable giving.

There are cardinal sins of factual reporting in this paragraph. Saying “fact” is the du-jour trend among journos who want to clothe opinion as reporting. Was Evans really flaunting his purchase? He was obviously happy at a dream come true. Is that so morally reprehensible? Who was to say he views it as a credential of his social worth? Why write an article about Evans being a “twat” and then make a general comments about the morality of other wealth men, “billionaires” no less?

There is not a single mention in the article of Evans charitable giving. Also, unlike many celebs, Evans hasn’t flown off to a tax haven to avoid paying capital gains or income tax. He has contributed millions to the coffers of the exchequer. If you consider his likely take from the exchequer, he has contributed more than his fair share. Now I’m in danger of sympathising with supply-side economics here but Mr. Sutcliffe throws in his economic (much less than) tuppence worth too. Sumptuary tax? Give me a break!! Back to Chris who donates the profits of his pub chain to CHASE Hospice Care for Children. What a wanker you are Mr. Evans. What an appalling human being. Let’s round up an angry mob so we can go around to your house and pillage the garage of ferraris that you so generously let members of the general public drive.

Let me speculate in the blue skies manner of Mr. Sutcliffe. Perhaps He feels “1NAD3QUATE” himself but makes up for it by questioning the morality of seemingly easy targets like Chris Evans.