If you are any kind of human being at all - even a crack whore; even a foreign affairs minister - you will have spent no little time, usually some sleepless hours in the foetid armpit of the night, wondering whether or not you've failed at life. Whether you've done anything that has mattered to the world, if only in some small way. Whether, in fact, you matter. At which point, you should be asking yourself: "Am I Meg Ryan?" If the answer is "No", you can generally be supposed to be doing all right for yourself.
Can there possibly have been a more useless person in the history of moving pictures? Well, yes, Greg Kinnear. A more useless actress, then? I seriously doubt it. So far as I can tell, Ms Meg’s job in any movie is to be a little perky, a little pouty, have her hair flop over her eyes and to fall down occasionally in suitably winsome fashion. This hardly constitutes a job requiring years of in-depth training or a higher degree. Hell, the same effect could be achieved by a sock puppet with goggle eyes and a blonde wig – an effect which, according to rumour, was put to use in the closing scenes of You’ve Got Mail after senior technicians found it impossible to remove the look of duck-lipped imbecility from Ryan’s face one morning, even with a blow torch. With Tony Hopkins brought in to manipulate the puppet and a little clever editing, nobody batted an eyelid at the finished sequence, and Tom Hanks is on record as saying that he actually preferred making out with Hopkin’s sock-sheathed fist. True story.
Wilde said that there is nothing more useless than a work of art, but the old bugger was born a couple of centuries too early to have known how wrong he was. If talent were paint, Meg Ryan would be the picture of Dorian Gray in cinema’s attic. The woman can utilise three expressions only: ‘chirpy’, ‘sad’ and ‘sulky’. Woman’s Day has reported that it was Russell Crowe who taught her how to do ‘sulky’ during their torrid (I borrow this otherwise objectionable adjective from the good people at WD magazine) affair, which only ended when Meg failed to master an expression of ‘suitable awe’ when looking at Russ.
Sure, there have been, and still are, actors with less ability than Ryan, but none have ever managed to display their lack so spectacularly, so annoyingly: Meg takes irritating vacuity into zen-like territories. If Heidegger (a mildly delusional Nazi sociopath, to be sure - but cute as a button!) was right, and art is the well from which human spirituality and intellect are drawn, and bad art a mind-destroying poison against which we must be ever vigilant, then Meg Ryan should be brought up before the Haig, post haste. No one - not Pierce Brosnan, not Cindy Crawford, not even Pauly Shore - no one has sought to make inane blandness appear so acceptable to the world.
I for one will not brook a moment more of it. Where is the seething mob? Where are their torches and pitchforks? It's time, ladies and gentlemen. Write to your local member, your town council, your favourite tabloid. Scream it out the window, I know I will be: "Meg! You're just shit, Meg! Please stop it now!"
All right, so it's not catchy - but it is true, so shut up.