The assholes who castigated Madame back in 2006-08 for daring to suggest that Sir Kevin Spacey might be not quite the unblemished cultural icon of cine-lore - well, where are they now? In a post-blogging world, the word-skimmers have moved on, probably to Anita Brookner's novels. Boo hoo!
But it is Gore Vidal we should think of today - even in his long-gone mode, cinema continues to blight him as it did in life. He wrote much of Ben Hur yet somehow didn't make the credits. Myra Breckinridge - oh dear, Raquel Welch was never going to make the crossovers from biological female to literary trans-female to movie faux male with dildo unleashed: a turkey. And who can forget Gore Vidal's Caligula which became just Caligula after a porno director was hauled aboard by Bob Guccione, and suddenly the likes of Helen Mirren and Peter O'Toole were wet-lip pouting for the toga'd money shots. Gore left in a huff.
And now again! Sir Kevin was due to play Gore in biopic movie Gore. Netflix has canned it because of all the Spacey cock-cocking stuff. I hadn't realised that the movie was in post-production: in other words, it's actually made. This is most tantalising. And very Vidalian. There Gore is, in sight of cinematic glory, and then ... well, what happened?
For the memory of Gore Vidal this is a disaster. Sadly his books alone will be insufficient to propel him for eternity. Myra reads like a period novel these days, the US history novels are too commercial, Creation is, well, forget it; and the essays, though gorgeous, are no more than intellectual disco. The Spacey movie, however, held much promise: because Spacey was a two Oscar-winning god, assured posthumous celebration while movies still matter, his legend would scoop up so-so Vidal into a timeless oeuvre, fascinating whole new publics who'd scarcely read a word of his. Vidal was far too clever to be truly popular and not quite gifted enough to find a foothold on our souls.The quotable quote anthologies will do their best to keep him among our footnotes. Spacey was the essential preservative, now spoilt.
Even in his addled state Truman Capote could make the killer point about his enemies, as he did on Vidal: "See, Gore has literally never written a masterpiece. Now, even J.D.
Salinger has written a masterpiece of a kind. Flannery O'Connor wrote a
masterpiece or two. Hemingway did. Faulkner did. Scott Fitzgerald did.
Norman [Mailer] never has. We could go on and on, but he has not done the one
essential thing: he has not written an un-forgettable book or a book
that was the turning point in either his or anybody else's life."