May 07, 2003

Celebrity (almost)-free

Dave commented on this post and I was going to put this reply in his blog, but I thought it was too huge and taking over his comments section, so I'll put it here.

Dave got kind of complicated about how perceptions of artists' works change when fans hear them say things that are offensive, and should we let that happen, and so on. I don't think it's that complex a problem, really, or at least I don't believe in being complicated about it and agonizing over it. I'm through agonizing over these people. (That is my way of dealing with it. I was not writing my post in the idea that everyone should do as I do.) For one thing, I don't believe in "boycotts" per se. I prefer to take it on a case-by-case basis, because, well, it's my money and my time. For instance, Viggo Mortenson's spouting off really annoyed me, not because he criticised the president or the war or thinks different than I do, but because what he had to say was so dumb and juvenile. But I'm still going to buy the Two Towers dvd, I'm still going to see Return of the King. And if he appears in another movie that looks good I'll see it sometime like as not. (Note: it has to fit into my rather narrow criteria of movies that I like.) I simply refuse to read any of his interviews, buy any of his "poetry" books (ugh), and so on. As for the Dixie Chicks, I have no interest in their music, but that has always been the case. I am actually getting sick of them -- their reputation has outpaced their rather feeble talent, and as for their talents as provacateuses, they disappoint, to say the least. I was merely pissed that they trash-talked the leader of their country to a bunch of foreigners; I was brought up to believe that one simply doesn't air one's dirty laundry (if one thinks it's dirty) to strangers like that. Sue me, I think my mama brought me up right. But I don't care if people buy their records and go see them; they can keep on having a nice, successful career.

What bothers me is not the anti-Bushisms and even anti-Americanisms (or stuff that can be taken that way) that the celebrities spout, it is the stupidity of what they have to say. It's barely above "Bush eats worms!" playskool taunts. It pains me to see people reveal their stupidity while their minders nod and pat their charges' heads and count the money. I get tired of having to tell myself that contrary to appearances, members of the entertainment industry are not any more jacked into what's going on in the world than the average 7-11 clerk in Podunkville, Nowhere -- often much less so. It's a mistake to think that just because someone is wildly talented in one area, or even two or three, that they are intellectual giants as well.

But that having been said, for the most part, my restaurant analogy still stands for me. I prefer not to be insulted -- to have my intelligence insulted by someone who is my intellectual inferior in everything but musical or acting ability, merely because they have fame and money and have access to millions of sycophantic fans and have "important" media people hanging on their every word and I don't. I don't need my entertainment that badly. If I happen to hear something an artist says that colors my perception of his work badly enough so that I can no longer enjoy it, too bad for me, but I think it's even worse for the artist. How sad is that, to lose a fan over something stupid you said? I'm not going to make an effort to jump the hurdles these idiots place in front of my enjoyment of their work anymore if I don't feel like it. Why should I? I have a life. For example: so Jessica Lange thinks she can keep my eyes on her after switching her heinie across the pond and telling the Euros how she's "ashamed to be American"? Screw you, Jessie, and thanks for the "honest opinion." Hope you like your new European fans, you've lost at least one American. And so on.

Posted by Andrea Harris at May 7, 2003 03:46 AM

What irritates your humble Curmudgeon is much like what irritates you, Andrea, but with a change of emphasis. Entertainers are using a pedestal we built for them, out of our enjoyment of their entertainment offerings, to pontificate to us about their political leanings. When they do so in a fashion that insults our intelligence or denigrates our morals, they're committing a double-barrelled sin of hubris, and deserve whatever the public decides to do to them.

Perhaps we could start a billboard campaign. Imagine the following superimposed on a huge photograph of a shapely rear end -- just to get the passerby's attention, of course:


A public service reminder from the Committee for a Return to Appropriate Publicity (CRAP)

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at May 7, 2003 at 07:21 AM

Bush eats worms? I had no idea.


Posted by: Ken Summers at May 7, 2003 at 09:22 AM

Well said, Andrea.

Posted by: *** Dave at May 7, 2003 at 09:24 AM

Andrea, thanks for the comments...especially about dear ol' Viggo. The point I always try to make with people who dont understand my distaste for their political punditry is that as actors they are constantly asking us as the audience to suspend our disbelief and forget what we do hear about them in the Real World and BELIEVE that they are completely and totally the character they are portraying.

It did not shock me in the least that Viggo is so un-educated and so much a sheeple when it comes to anti-Bushisms. What made me mad was up to the point when I heard about his Charlie Rose appearance, was that I BELIEVED COMPLETELY that he was Aragorn...AND an Aragorn that gave humanity to the book character...a character that I was rather ambivalent about to begin with. After viewing FOTR, my admiration of him as an ACTOR who has the talent to MAKE ME BELIEVE (which is what all those actors mean when they talk about 'being natural' or 'taken seriously' or 'a master of the craft') rose exponentially...and I was very excited about seein the rest of the trilogy as Aragorn developed.

Needless to say, going on a show to talk about FOTR/TTT and instead blathering on about a subject he has NOT devoted any amount of time studying or participating in (and I daresay that a majority of us who have been watching the political scene just by the blogs for the last year could whomp this actor in a multiple choice test about Iraq and America)...shattered the respect I had for him as AN ACTOR.

Whether I agreed with him or not, I now had the ACTOR's opinion in my head when I went to see TTT...and not what I remembered of him as Aragorn....which left me to conclude THAT I DID NOT BELIEVE HIM ANYMORE.

And trust me...the WORST thing you can EVER say to an actor is that 'you just aren't believable.'

Which is why I think Elijah Wood has shown tremendous smarts and intelligence and savvy in keeping his own mouth shut. It matters not to me if he is just as willing to agree with Viggo in anti-Bush/anti-war stances....but he was obviously very conscious of what revealing his opinion woudl do to those who had, so far, become deeply impressed fans. He was thinking of the goal of an actor, not of performing a silly act, nor of taking advantage of a moment of attention for a cheap shot at something he was only on the periphery of.

THAT was the difference between Wood and Mortensen...and that was something I also didnt forget when I was watching.

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson at May 7, 2003 at 02:08 PM