What is it about the media and politicians in this country that they feel the need to constantly indulge in what we might politely term star fu*king? This week it’s the best-selling Scottish author Ian McEwan, and a fortnight ago it was actor Cate Blanchett.

And why don’t authors, actors, painters and musicians for that matter stop feeding the star fu*king addiction by taking author Peter Carey’s sage advice yesterday and stick to their knitting? “I don’t regard it as my job to be a public intellectual. My responsibility, it seems to me, is to make a substantial piece of art that may give succour to us in the difficult times that doubtless lie ahead,” Carey said.

Mr McEwan might be a very good fiction writer, but why does The Age feel it necessary to get his views on Tasmanian forests and The Australian to gather his insights into climate change, all on the same day? Is Mr McEwan a scientist with expertise in these areas? Not when I last looked.

Yesterday The Oz ran an interview – if one could call it that – which McEwan had done with the paper’s Literary editor Deborah Hope. Essentially it’s a piece in which the reader gets to find out what McEwan thinks about climate change, trees and civil liberties. On the same day, The Age had McEwan bannered on its front page announcing that the writer has views on – wait for it… trees!

Since when did McEwan become an expert in each of these areas? Well he wants to write a novel with a climate change theme – smart marketing on his part. And on trees? He gleaned his insight from touring Tasmania with fellow fiction writer Richard Flanagan and Greens senator Bob Brown. In other words, he was harangued by two of the most belligerent and partisan campaigners on the issue of chopping down trees in that State – that’s hardly an empirical study!

The media McEwan has generated this week is another unfortunate example of the cringing disposition in this country to uncritically fete “intellectuals” and creative types who visit our country. McEwan’s views on anything other than his books and literature have about as much value in intellectual terms as would an interview with Shane Warne in which the world’s greatest spinner sets out his five point plan for fighting inflation.

McEwan is not the only person that we have felt the need to star fu*k in recent times. The actress Cate Blanchett is one of the Prime Minister’s current favourites. Kevin Rudd has had her over for dinner and now thinks she has such a giant intellect that he has invited her to chair a session at his two day egofest. Why? We can answer that question by asking another – would Blanchett have the ear of the Prime Minister if she was not a Hollywood celebrity? I doubt it.

It is time Australia had the confidence to stop star fu*king . Are we still so insecure that we need to dribble at the mouth every time a famous author or actor visits us? Sadly, it seems we are.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey