James Dean gives an iconic performance in Nicholas Ray’s classic study of troubled youth Rebel Without A Cause (1955).
With able Oscar nominated support from Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, it’s the story of a teenage misfit who moves to a new town and must juggle the pressures of an unhappy home life and his peers at school. Dean never lived to see his most famous screen role, which has served as the basis for countless movies about teenage rebelliousness ever since.
Everybody loves Sam Smith, we're told. But I was always pretty ambivalent about him. His old, churchy voice was off-putting; there was something cold and calculated about the mournfulness, something of The X Factor. But I was pleased one of us had made it. Then I discovered his not-so surprising background as the son of wealthy bankers. He's not one of us, he's one of them: the 1%.
Sam Smith's privileged, elite background matters, and something the establishment doesn't want us to think too hard about. According to fellow posh boy James Blunt, we aren't allowed to discuss the advantages afforded to the spawn of billionaires. It's the "politics of jealousy", apparently. But not discussing it ensures that the status quo is maintained, and we're all kept in our place (with Sam Smith and Blunt at the top, of course).
Smith's success hasn't been earned through blood, sweat and tears, but bought with the hard cash of posh, pushy parents with sharp elbows. Really, what could a 22-year-old rich kid, who has been handed everything he ever wanted, possibly have to say? Where is the life experience, the suffering, the pain? "Rich kids can be artists if they want," someone bleated on a friend's Facebook page after I posted a comment dismissing Sam Smith's validity. Well, of course they can be artists. They can be anything they want, which is the point. If Sam Smith had been the son of a plumber, he wouldn't be where he is now.
And what of the disproportionate coverage afforded to him by the mainstream gay media? They themselves aren't a million miles from the Sam Smith mould: white, well-off, in a cosy metropolitan world of their own; they boost Smith because he is like them. Sam Smith is big news. Le1f, Zebra Katz - even David McAlmont - not so much.
The whole subject of race, and soul, R&B and hip-hop is a separate issue that needs discussion. I don't have a problem with white soul artists per se. I've been an Annie Lennox fan since forever, and of George Michael since the crushing Jesus To A Child. Both artists have had tumultuous lives, and life experiences - Jesus To A Child, famously, is about Michael's lovers' death from AIDS. The question is why is soul and R&B - and, increasingly, hip-hop - a playground for rich white kids like Smith and Ed Sheeran? (The BBC's 1Xtra Power List was last year branded by rapper Wiley "the saddest list in music history. Not taking anything away from Ed [Sheeran], he is sick. But black artists in England, we are getting bumped. We influence a man and all of a sudden it turns and he has influenced us.")
A lack of authenticity isn't Smith's only problem. Not only is his gold plated background not very sexy, but (to be blunt) neither is he. In an industry that increasingly peddles softcore porn to sell music, chinless wonder Smith actually looks like a banker.
Unquestionably derivative, he is a rich kid playing dress up, a parasite, and whilst he might be a perfectly nice guy, everything he represents is rotten.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to squash the persistent rumours about mysterious 'disappearances' and emphasize that rural and urban areas are now enjoying a life of harmony and peace. I'm sure you're glad to hear this. And I'm happy you're glad."