Many of us, including in the supermarket checkout lines (scanning People, National Enquirer and the rest) have inflated opinions of Hollywood stars, among other celebrities. Where it gets misguided and downright sad is when we lend a serious ear to their views on global issues, the American political scene, etc.
What really needs to figure in any objective assessment of these icons is exactly what they do most of their days. OK, they learn the lines and they make sure they’re facing exactly the right way for this or that shot. And their teeth properly groomed, their hair trimmed, and so forth. But how on earth does all of this add up to much experience or preparation to be a news pundit, writ large?
The rest of their time? This too must be taken into account in a realistic evaluation of these people as potential “experts”. Long story short, much of their remaining time is spent in a calming, enclosed environment of La-La Land, where the weather cooperates day in and day out (except for wildfire smoke), and the big deal is know what kind of yogurt or vegetable concoction to eat; or what swimming routine to adopt, or what bike ride to take along the shores near Malibu; or what hike or ski trip in the mountains (including Aspen) to take, and so on.
I prefer to listen to talk show hosts on politics and society, including regional ones. And yet, many of us pay attention to those pompous, sometimes conceited Hollywoodians we see boldly photographed in those supermarket shelves.
Including even oldies with lengthy movie resumes like Robert De Niro. Who has still spent a good part of his life as I described above. And younger stars like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and Angelina too. And even younger (in terms of softness, superficiality, simplification, it often gets worse the further down you go!).
Am I sounding too acerbic here? May be. But again, I really think we should look at the fabric of these celebrities’ lives and how such an existence can really make them a reliable observer of the issues in today’s ever more complex and divided world.
Do these people sometimes get involved, for example, on environmental issues or animal protection? Without a doubt, and I take my hat off to these efforts.
But overall, they should really stick to their knitting and let others stick to theirs. Nevertheless, I am well aware that fame attracts. Somehow, the famous seem to have something more, or many of us instinctively feel it. They even have the key to life! (Only of course they don’t…)
Many years ago, Daniel Boorstin (in a book called “The Image”) denoted and decried the phenomenon of being famous for being…famous. Exactly this way, and I can’t get Boorstin better, a lot of these celebrities you hear about in these supermarket lines, flipping through this or that magazine, are getting more and more famous just for being… well, famous.
Which all too often makes us think – even when rationally we should know better – that somehow they have it all figured out and can heal those burning ideological cracks that are now so deep in this country. Or huge problems in the world at large.
There is another component here that can be added to the above. And that goes to the sloppy nature of how some movies are made these days (almost none end up with anything like national or universal appeal); and especially manifested in the tragic episode of Alec Baldwin with whom he and others on this set, as the woefully inexperienced “armorer” (perhaps receiving the gig due to diversity demands or nepotism?) Will be linked for a long time.
Of course, they were shooting the movie in New Mexico, not near Los Angeles. Of course, this ill-fated cinematic effort was an “indie” film. But the lack of standards so sadly seen on this set is also the worst in Hollywood today. Often so-called “stars” have less appeal than computer effects in one fantasy movie after another, or even cartoon characters!
Once again: why listen to such prodigious, smug, but too often meaningless guys on “problems?” Why indeed?
BB Singer has taught at several area colleges, including Niagara University.