An insightful reader sent me a link to this cover story
in Entertainment Weekly
about George Clooney entitled, "The New Politics of Hollywood."
Sorry Entertainment Weekly
, but your lame title should have been "Politics as Usual in Hollywood." George Clooney was interviewed for the article about his new movie, Syriana
, a movie that (you'll never guess) exposes the lies behind the War on Terror.
And of course, you'll be shocked to learn that there is a CIA agent in Syriana
who thwarts deomocracy in an Arab country in order to keep petroleum flowing, along with some sympathetically portrayed suicide bombers just to give the audience a sense of the filmmaker's sympathy for Arab murderers. Clooney pats himself on the back for his bravery in bringing this charmer to Warner Bros.:
People were afraid to say things. Big stars would come up to me and whisper that they supported me — I thought it was strange that they felt they had to whisper. But people seem to be less afraid now. They're calming down. Lots of people are starting to ask questions. It's becoming hard to avoid the questions. When we started [Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana], nobody was encouraging us, says Clooney. We jumped in on our own. And there was no reason to think it was going to get any easier. But people in Hollywood do seem to be getting more comfortable with making these sorts of movies now. People are becoming braver.
Sorry George, but preaching to the choir that is Hollywood is not bravery. I didn't hear Michael Moore whispering at the Oscars when he gave his rant about President Bush.
Bravery is Mel Gibson shelling out millions and risking his own reputation in the movie business
by making Passion of the Christ
Do you ever wonder how these Hollywood stars such as Clooney can be so clueless about their behavior? I know I do. Clooney and his cronies see themselves as mavericks, even though they live in a world that caters to their every whim. How is it that George can have such sympathy for suicide bombers and terrorists on one hand and so little sympathy for his fellow Americans or even his Italian neighbors while he is filming?
This clueless self-centered behavior is not just an aberration of high level artist-types like Clooney--it trickles down to the masses of artists who seem to believe that their talent (whether good, bad or indifferent) gives them free license to selfish acts of self-expression. How do I know this? Unfortunately, I have lived with a number of these expressive types on an upclose and personal basis.
At the age of 21, I moved to Manhattan to go to graduate school. I lived with a wonderful roommate who was initially an NYU student and then an editor at a big publishing firm. After a few years, she moved in with her boyfriend and left me to the scary task of finding a normal roommate in Manhattan (remember Chandler in Friends
with the psychotic roommate--that guy would have been a prize for me!) After meeting with a number of prospects, I finally settled on Dave, a musician and artist at NYU. He was a bit pasty and didn't talk much but I thought that would be a plus. It wasn't. He found girlfriends who talked for him. They talked to me all the time.
I was in graduate school in clinical psych and used all of my time to study and wanted to be left alone. He had two girlfriends who were actually both very competent and cheerful--almost the direct opposite of Dave. Neither woman knew about the other and when not out with them, he was out with numerous other women. It was none of my business except that both of his girlfriends (at different times) were constantly interrupting my work to ask me why I wasn't out partying. Maybe if I was, they concluded, I would meet a great, loyal guy like Dave. I never said anything but would listen and just nod until they left me alone. I never much said anything to Dave and vice versa--until one day, he left his diary out on the kitchen table open to a page of his writing. I figured it was private but he left it out day after day. I figured that maybe this was his way of communicating something to me so eventually I picked up the diary to read the following:
"I know my roommate is in love with me. I already have two of the women of my dreams. I cannot take on another one. I don't know how to break the news to her that I am not in love with her. And maybe I should break up with Kate and Kathleen too. My talent in music and the arts is my first perrogative."
At first I thought I should be angry that he had made such a big assumption--but given his bizzare way of connecting with me, I felt more bemused than anything. A few weeks later he moved out to live with his band. I breathed a sigh of relief but the roommate search continued.
To make a long story short, I next lived with a female photographer who would parade models in and out of the living room (the whole New York apartment was the size of a dollhouse so there was no escape) while I was preparing for exams, even when I asked her not to. Okay, if I were a guy or interested in women, this could have been exciting but I was neither. Next came Alex, a painter who asked if her cousin could stay overnight -- but then she stayed for two months without paying rent. Finally, my old roommate moved back in but we ended up taking in Wendy, a spoiled dancer who was the sister of a friend. She needed a place to stay and had no money for rent. One morning, I woke to a horrible cat fight going on between my kind roommate and Wendy who was fighting her for the bathroom. That was the last straw. I vowed not to take in any more artist types. It was a good move.
I often feel sorry for others who are dealing with some of these artist types who think their purpose in life is to "stand up to the man." I have a friend whose son is an artist and filmmaker. He once showed me some abstract art his son had made of 9/11. It showed men in suits with brief cases falling from the twin towers or running away. My friend told me his son had made it because he "did not feel sorry for capitalistic Americans and they got what they deserved on 9/11." My friend looked at me sadly and asked, "I wonder if his mother and I imparted any of our values on him at all or if he just rejected everything we stood for?" Sometimes I wonder the same thing about the Hollywood crowd.
Update: Here are some related thoughts from Ed Driscoll
at TechCentral Station