Creative Sensemaker: What to read, watch and listen to this weekend
A rundown of the books, films, music and more by Tortoise Media, the slow news agency
By Matt d'Ancona
I wasn’t planning on writing about Mick Jagger and post-truth this week – but, even at the age of 77, the frontman of the Rolling Stones has the capacity to surprise.
Jagger has teamed up with Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl to produce ‘Eazy Sleazy’. In the track, he dives into the mind of an anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist: ‘Shooting the vaccine, Bill Gates is in my bloodstream/ It’s mind control/ The Earth Is flat and cold, It’s never warming up/ The Arctic’s turned to slush/ The Second Coming’s late/ There’s aliens In The Deep State.’
This is clearly rocker’s mockery, but social media didn’t get it. The notion that all this was serious and that Jumpin’ Jack Flash was now wearing a tin-foil hat sparked a firestorm of digital outrage.
In fact, as Jagger explained to Rolling Stone magazine, he is not only a strong advocate of the COVID-19 jab; he has grasped a central reality of the post-truth world, which is that arguing with conspiracy theorists usually makes them double down and become more entrenched in their idiotic beliefs.
Deep waters for a rock’n’roller you might think. But the Stones were always more political and thoughtful than is suggested by their image today.
'Street Fighting Man’ captured the rebellious spirit of 1968 and ‘Gimme Shelter’ conveyed the horrors of conflict in south-east Asia. More recently, the Stones scorned the hawks of George W Bush’s administration in ‘Sweet Neo Con’ (2005) and threatened Donald Trump with legal action if he continued to use their music at his rallies.
It’s good to see Sir Mick still kicking the shins after 59 years, hurling himself raucously into the politics of lockdown, and tackling the digital era’s great scourge of misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories.
It’s not a bad song, either.
Here are this week’s recommendations:
Promising Young Woman (VOD, 16 April)
Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut is a dark comedy starring Carey Mulligan as Cassie Thomas, set on avenging the rape and apparent suicide of her best friend. Fennell picked up two BAFTAs on Sunday and is nominated for five Oscars. Don’t miss it.
Leonardo (Prime Video, 16 April)
Poldark’s Aidan Turner smoulders artistically in the title role of this much-anticipated eight-part series, which sees the painter pursued in a fictitious murder mystery. Worth a look.
Too Close (ITV Hub)
This drama set in a psychiatric hospital isn’t easy to watch, but includes superb performances by the lead actors, Denise Gough and Emily Watson. A triumph of nuance and ambiguity.
One Of Them: An Eton College Memoir by Musa Okwonga
A compelling memoir of life at the world’s most famous school in the 1990s by a sophisticated writer. This book will make you think deeply.
The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Scandalised A Nation by Catherine Ostler
Ostler, former Editor-in-Chief of Tatler, writes beautifully about the life of a Hanoverian woman who scorched her way through a patriarchal society without compromise. Highly recommended.
The Fascination Of What’s Difficult: A Life Of Maud Gonne by Kim Bendheim
A candid biography of W B Yeats’ muse, which reveals the ugly depths of her anti-Semitism – as important a part of her character as her social activism in Ireland.
Homecoming by Du Blonde
Pop-punk pace combined with lyrics of considerable introspection (check out Du Blonde’s collaboration with Shirley Manson, ‘Medicated’). Riotously good fun, with a thoughtful edge.
The Brandenburg Project by Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard
A beautiful experiment, in which the Danish conductor invites six composers to interpret and respond to one of Bach’s concertos. The results are brazenly experimental at times, but totally compelling.
Californian Soil by London Grammar (16 April)
From its first ethereal moments, the title track lets you know you are in for something special. A confident combination of anthems and more reflective numbers, this is music for good weather and high hopes.
Don’t forget to send your own recommendations to email@example.com.
That’s all for now – take care of yourselves, and each other.
Editor and Partner