New Yorkers, Unite! Stand Up for Our Boldface Bloviators!
The New York Observer ^ | Feb. 2, 2003 | Bruce Feirstein
Dear Concerned Citizen:
As I write this, we face a grave and growing crisis in America. Not just war. Or terrorism. Or the ever-increasing proliferation of those twin weapons of mass destruction: nuclear bombs and S.U.V.’s. No. We face a danger far more threatening: The comedian Janeane Garofalo is not being taken seriously with regard to her pronouncements on American foreign policy.
Yes, that’s right: According to her interview with Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post, Ms. Garofalo has become the subject of ridicule and scorn as she fights to have her viewpoints considered with the proper gravitas.
"I’m being treated like a child," she complained, adding, "Now that I’m sober I watch a lot of news."
Tragic? You bet. Especially since Ms. Garafolo knows for an absolute fact that Saddam Hussein isn’t hiding any weapons of mass destruction.
But then, poor Janeane isn’t the only one suffering from these slings and arrows of public derision:
Sean Penn has been called a dupe for his fact-finding mission to Iraq.
Ben Affleck has been mocked for Congressional aspirations, based on the trivial fact he hasn’t voted since 1992.
Sheryl Crow has been soundly derided for her finely nuanced assertion that the best way for America to avoid war is "to not have any enemies."
And Ed Harris—yes, Ed Harris—has been called "childish and sanctimonious" for his sophisticated deconstruction of George Bush’s masculinity at a recent pro-choice banquet, where he said, "That’s not the definition of a man, goddamn it!"
In fact, even Susan Sarandon has come under fire. Speaking at the gala London premiere of her film, The Banger Sisters—a movie that documents the terrible working conditions and long-term psychological damage suffered by women working in the male-dominated world of rock ’n’ roll groupies—Ms. Sarandon complained: "I’m tired of being labeled anti-American because I ask questions."
She also informed the crowd that her black fitted top was from Dolce & Gabbana.
The question here, of course, is: What can you do to help?
INTRODUCING CAUSE CELEB
In America today, there is no minority more deserving of our help, and concern, than celebrities.
They drive our economy. They provide us with endless hours of entertainment. And as a quick perusal of almost any celebrity profile in Vanity Fair or Us magazine will attest, virtually every one of them has had to overcome some terrible trauma in their past. Drug addiction. Dyslexia. Abusive parents. Bad script choices.
And that’s why we’ve formed Cause Celeb: a coalition of caring, concerned citizens who are determined to stand up for celebrities and stop this madness, now.
With your vital contribution, we’ll be able to do the following:
• Provide limos and/or first-class air transportation for celebrities to appear on talk shows and at peace rallies, so they can be rested, and ready, to speak out on the issues.
• Identify celebrity-friendly politicians who will invite our stars to testify at those all-important Senate subcommittee hearings.
• Lobby CNN to keep Larry King on the air, forever.
THE VITAL BACKSTORY
As with all great causes, it’s important to understand the roots of this terrible tragedy.
There are some—fascist, imperialist, big-oil, warmongering, anti-abortion, environment-plundering, fat-cat corporate Republicans—who would blame this backlash on Bill Clinton and his fixation on Hollywood.
But as Mr. Clinton would say: "That would be wrong."
As Sean Penn so sagely points out, celebrities "intuit" things. They feel. Therefore, they know. And it’s not their fault that—until now—no one has ever questioned this received wisdom.
One day they’re being asked, "What’s it like to work with Woody?", and the next it’s "So what do you think of the Maastricht agreement?"
They’re compelled to speak out. They can’t help themselves, any more than the lowly snail darter.
And it’s not their fault that they’re surrounded by sycophants —agents, managers, publicists—whose very livelihoods depend on never uttering the words "***** almighty, you don’t know what you’re talking about."
In fact, celebrities are double victims here—attacked in the press, and undermined by their retainers. Which is why they deserve twice our support and quadruple our sympathy.
Sure, it’s tough. But to paraphrase Ed Harris: "That’s what it takes to be a celebrity, ***-**** it!"
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Now perhaps you don’t earn $20 million per picture. You can still contribute:
• Never suggest that Hollywood’s frequent portrayal of America as a racist, violent, decadent, corrupt society has anything to do with our image problems overseas. Remember the mantra: One movie-of-the-week about AIDS can change the world, but 2,000 gratuitously violent action films will have no cultural impact. We’re talking about art, here, damn it. We’ve all got to protect the First Amendment.
•Never criticize Richard Gere. Sure, he seems confused about why he’s getting those awards. And nobody really, truly gives a damn what he thinks about Tibet or The New Yorker. But he’s got great hair.
• Never disparage the S.U.V.-driving celebrities who paid for the ad linking S.U.V. ownership to terrorism. These are busy people. Do you really expect them to know who owns the two, three, or nine S.U.V.’s in their driveway?
• If you meet Martin Sheen in a social setting, don’t be alarmed that he actually seems to believe he’s the President. It’s an actor thing. Just salute, and say, "Yes, sir."
• On the other hand, it’s O.K. to say that U2’s Bono has become a cartoon. We’re all sick of him.
DON’T FORGET TO BLAME THE MEDIA
Today, "real reporters" are covering the war. Culture writers want to be part of the big story. Can you think of a better way than ridiculing celebrities?
That’s right: This whole backlash is a vast media conspiracy. And somewhere, no doubt, Karl Rove is behind it.
AS THE DIRECTOR SAYS: "ACTION!"
To contribute to this urgent cause, visit our Web site: Not_In_Our_Boldface_Names.com.
Remember: Janeane Garofalo could have been a White House Scholar. She could have had a Nobel Peace Prize. She could have dedicated her life to helping the poor. Instead, she gave it all up for you and a Cable ACE Award.
Don’t we all owe Janeane Garofalo a little respect?