Oh, Hollywood and co., how you mystify us.
Those whacky celebrities have really been taking it up to a new level. Our favorite national obsession is serving up more exquisite morsels than ever before. In older times, celebrities were figure-heads of public-relations machines, with carefully architected personas designed for mass appeal. The resulting sideshow rivaled the main events in many cases, but the goal was always to promote the art.
Jael McHenry, Russ Carr, Mike Junianelle, this humble writer, and many others have noted various aspects of the demise in arts and entertainment in many recent articles on this fine website. There is nothing new about it, only further decline in original thought and creativity. But lately I've noticed that while the quality of the products is bottoming out, the richness of the celebrities off-stage insanity has sky-rocketed.
What's interesting now is the degree of self-revelation we're seeing, as if personal details are more important than art. As if the actor is more important than the character, the producer more than the music. Because the associated revenue potential declines along with the quality of movies, music, and tv, one would think the artists themselves would refocus on the art. Instead, they are more self-absorbed than ever before. The sideshow has become a freak show, and is now the main event on the midway. Are they so addicted to fame that they slather over the methadone of infamy in its stead?
All I know is that we love to hate them, and hate to love them. Here is my personal Top 10 "I'm-a-crappy-artist-but-still-successful-so-here's-my-
idiosyncratic-personal-angst for-you-to-ponder" celebrities. Celebrity Boors, in other words.
Courtney Love - Good grief, what can I say that she's not already saying very loudly herself lately? I feel bad, I'll just let her do the talking. "Nice to meet you, your honor, judge well." And flashing Letterman? Very original, we forgot that Drew Barrymore did it just 2 years ago. Good luck babe, but in the mean time, since the last good record you made was actually written by Billy Corgan, please have off until he shows up again.
Howard Stern - Isn't his show funny since he started constantly whining about how Bush is out to get him? 600K in fines is bad, but it's only a third of the amount his company paid to settle with the Clinton-run FCC. Logic, man, it's all your fault, only your dumbest listeners can't see that. Admit it, and get back to throwing pies at somebody's ass, it was the only thing you were good at.
Sean Combs - If I could figure out exactly what he was, I'd criticize it. Gangster? Pseudo-Artist? Producer? Clothier? A wanna-be Russell Simmons who in turn only wants to be Donald Trump? What's that? They have protégés? Better get another, J.Lo is gone. Good role model, pal, it really helps those inner city kids to shoot for that 1-in-10 million lucky break that you got. Don't delude them now, keep it real.
Arnold Schwarzenegger - What's wrong in California? The only thing more schizophrenic than the voters is a body-builder-turned-grabass-turned-
-actor-turned-Governor. Didn't Reagan at least make decent films until the end? I know he didn't show his ass on the big screen right before running. I keep thinking of Conan. "I'll have my own kingdom, and my own queen." President Arnold and First Lady Maria Shriver, thanks Cali.
Tim Robbins - If you must insist on thinking for us, at least be realistic and think Man, that movie really sucked. Maybe I should go back to acting school and stay out of poli-sci? And take your buddy Penn with you, you quixotic bastards. Get back to fighting dragons on-screen, the windmills are kicking your asses out here in the real world.
Madonna - Hmm... Time the 'Drowned World Tour' to sync with the release of AI, a movie the public has no idea was based on Kubrick's Drowned World film treatment. Continue with tour despite the fact that no one knows what the hell 'Drowned World' means. See badly marketed tour flop. Kill husband's film career with forced starring role. Kiss Britney. Launch 'Reinvent Yourself' tour. See another tour flop. Kiss career in all media goodbye.
Mel Gibson - Sweet jumpin' Jesus on a popsicle stick, what goes on man? Braveheart was good for an historical stretch, but all your other films since Road Warrior bite. And now this? Hint: the Romans spoke Greek in court in Palestine back then, and they only carried the crossbars on the death march. Keep the historical stretching to films you don't care that much about. In fact, only make films you don't care about much, we'll be better off.
Rush Limbaugh - The term 'feminazis' was beautiful, but that was the one and only. This gasbag screamed until his eardrums burst, went deaf, and got hooked on painkillers. All that ranting, and all we got was one good word. And what qualified him to write a book on politics? He's a radio guy. I'd like to bash it, but I refuse to read books written by media pundits. They're stupid by default for writing them, save it for people who can think.
Rosie O'Donnell - Acting: average. Comedy: average. Oprah-like attempt at media domination: failed abysmally. Cutting in line to get illegally married in San Francisco: asinine. Dedication to kids: awesome, but you don't have to be a celebrity boor to do that. At least your off the circuit now, and if you stay quiet, you won't be on this list next year. Stay very quiet...
Michael Jackson - The King of Pop-psychologists' worst nightmares. It's A Thriller. How many times can the Nation of Islam mortgage the Beatles' catalog that you outbid your supposed friend Paul McCartney on before you realize your career's over? Why are you hanging out with those guys? Aren't you a Jehovah's Witness? Your last good song was Beat It. Heed your own words, oh pallid intoxicator of children, and fly.
That's it, in no particular order.
There is a very good sounding book that just came out, Hollywood, Interrupted By Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner, which details some of the background causes for some of these lunatic issues. I've read the excerpts, and it seems to suggest egomania, coupled with very odd childhoods, foments this phenomena.
If that's the case, perhaps we're just in the thick of a large generation of challenged souls. Perhaps as this bubble thins out, there'll be less cause for this type of column, more cause to celebrate a return to good art.
Maybe it's you, maybe it's Dan. Things aren't quite the way they should be. And now it seems Dan's peace of mind has come up for the bidding, and those that he respects and trusts must all have been just kidding. Dan's little world has lost control, but still it keeps on spinnin'...
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
4.20.04 @ 6:55p
Paris Hilton - whose 15 minutes are hopefully up.
Ben Affleck - You're a terrible actor. You didn't write Goodwill Hunting. We don't care that you're a Sox fan. You're a drunk. J-Lo dumped your ass. We don't care.
David Arquette - Is there a worse-dressed lesser-talented "celebrity" in the Universe? I think not. Have fun living off your wife's royalties.
4.20.04 @ 7:24p
How could you forget J. "my dress is held together with one minute button" Lo? If you have to show that much skin to be noticed, it doesn't say much for your talent.
4.20.04 @ 8:44p
But it does say a lot for your body.
4.20.04 @ 10:11p
She leaves nothing to the imagination, though. There's something to be said for being appreciated for more than T & A.
4.20.04 @ 11:39p
There's something to be said for being appreciated for more than T & A.
You said it, sister. I just wish a girl could get beyond that for once, and respect me for my mind.
As for the celebs, nice additions to the list, you guys picked good ones. Now I'm all fired up to rip on them, too. Jen and Ben, like shooting lame ducks, and why didn't I think of Arquette?
4.21.04 @ 12:48a
Dan, it's funny. I was actually telling Joe last month that I had thought about doing a column on Courtney "Somebody Put Me Down Like the Deranged Hippo That I Am" Love, but that I didn't want to give her any more press. Thanks for taking that shot, buddy.
Luke and Owen Wilson: Like the Baldwins, not everyone in the family can act. So they must have an older brother somewhere who can.
Sheryl Crow: The "I'll Date Any Celebrity Man, Then Bitch, Whine and Moan about Him On My Next Album" No-Talent Hack. Somewhere in Sheybogan, there's a real singer with real talent. Please step aside and let her come out and be a real rock goddess. Lord knows we need one.
Al Sharpton: I can't list all the reasons why - there are just too many.
Jessica Simpson: It's always the preacher's daughters who are tarts. Since she "saved herself for marriage" while popping her boobs out, I certainly hope Nick is getting all that belated noogie and rye toast for waiting and putting up with her shit all the time.
Justin Timberlake: More like Timberlack. Enough. Go away.
Al Franken: You were never funny. And when you teamed up with Arianna Huffington as a "political expert," you knew nothing. You still know nothing. Step aside.
4.21.04 @ 7:12a
Folks....we've been horribly remiss--we've all forgotten Anna Nicole Smith. I don't think I really need to give an explanation for her. Her television show takes care of it for me.
And Dan, we DO appreciate you for your mind, really we do. Now put down those butt implants and back away slowly.
4.21.04 @ 12:30p
OH MY GAWD yes! Brilliant, Lisa! I had insomnia the other night. One would think I'd try to use the time productively. Instead, I watched my first ep of the Anna Nicole Smith show.
Holy shit, what a trainwreck. I felt like I needed to shower afterwards. Yet she still gets attention.
4.21.04 @ 7:50p
Tracey, dear...next time you have insomnia, try reading the dictionary instead...anything but watch another episode of her show!
4.23.04 @ 3:36p
Maybe if we stopped paying attention to them they would just go away. They really do not serve any useful function. We have been presented with this wonderful three-dimensional playground and garden, where we get to use all five of our senses, six if you count intuition, yet many of us go and see a two-dimensional fake version of reality where only two senses apply. I guess the other senses can apply in the theatre itself. I really don't want to go there. That could be the subject for an entire article. There is nothing inherently wrong with being entertained by a movie. However, when being entertained becomes the focus of the human reality, problems start to a occur. Our actual existence becomes degraded, thus driving more people to seek avenues of escape. I think I'll invest in entertainment and drug stocks. Has cocaine gone public yet. :-)
4.24.04 @ 7:01a
Daniel, I keep ignoring them, but they don't go away. Proof that they pay no attention to anyone but themselves, I suppose.
According to a CNN.com article this morning, the Gloved One is upset that he's being hounded by the media. Tough. I believe celebrities are like the rest of us, entitled to a certain expectation of personal privacy--unless, as in his case, they do something illegal. Sexual antics behind closed doors with a consenting adult is one thing, but child molestation is wrong. Period. Furthermore, even though I simply cannot stand Gloria Allred (and cannot believe I actually agree with her on anything), I do think she was right to try to get his children removed from his home. If it had been a garden variety man charged with molestation his children would have been removed immediately, especially if he'd dangled one of them over a balcony. Enough with the double standards already.
4.24.04 @ 12:57p
Lisa, the garden variety man would most likely not be tried in the court of public perception. Michael is so freaky that it is very easy to assume that he is guilty. To me, anyone who alters their appearance to the degree that he has, has some very serious issues. However, I believe he has a right to a private trial by a jury of his peers, if they can find any.
4.24.04 @ 4:20p
Daniel, I think the issue here is not so much that he's being tried in the court of public perception so much as it is that he's able to command high-priced lawyers adept at manipulating the system. He's got legal counsel the average man could never hope to afford.
Do I think he's guilty? I don't know. I have serious questions about the accuser and his family's truthfulness. But I also have to wonder why he's so fixated on children to the degree of having them sleep over--in HIS bedroom. That's fishier than a case of tuna.
4.24.04 @ 4:47p
Lisa, good point. I wish we would not even hear about this stuff sometimes. Why do so many gifted people end up doing such stupid things? There was a time when I really appreciated his musical talent. We will never know whether he is really guilty or not. With all that high priced legal counsel, most likely he will get off. It really does not matter that much. I do not think that he is going to experience much happiness for the rest of his life, if he ever has. As Dan said perhaps we're just in the thick of a large generation of challenged souls
4.24.04 @ 8:02p
Our generation has had more than it's fair share, I think. Look at all the musical talent that's died way too early because they couldn't deal with the fame without drugs and/or alcohol--Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Bon Scott (AC/DC), Steve Clark (Def Leppard), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)...and all those who've amazingly survived something that probably should have killed them: Nikki Sixx and Vince Neill(Motley Crue), Rick Allen (Def Leppard), James Hetfeld(?-spelling, Metallica).
What I wonder at times is how much is due to their own personal demons, and how much is due to the demands fans place on them on a regular basis? Is the very talent that drives them part of the problem?
4.26.04 @ 10:19a
Good Lord, you people are bitter.
Also, let's put the Howard Stern fines in context. I did a little research and came up with these comparisons of fines the government has recently levied:
$495,000 — for broadcasting Howard Stern.
$435,000 — for the Alabama coal-mine explosion that killed 13 miners.
$229,000 – for safety violations that led to the electrocution of an employee working on a panel that should not have been energized.
$140,000 — for unsafe practices that allowed a coal-mine roof to fall and kill a miner.
$129,580 — for the failure of a property-management firm to protect renters from lead-paint dangers.
$110,000 — for unsafe practices that led to the death of one worker from chemical burns and the hospitalization of eight others for exposure to chlorine.
$52,500 — for directing a worker to weld a 10,000-gallon tank that contained volatile substances, which exploded and killed him.
$5,600 — for the coal-slurry spill that covered a 75-mile swath of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, polluting streams, damaging property and killing fish and wildlife.
I hardly think that talking about sex deserves a harsher punishment than being responsible for killing another human being.
4.26.04 @ 11:58a
I hardly think that talking about sex deserves a harsher punishment than being responsible for killing another human being
Agreed, but my point was that the current fines are 1/3 of what the FCC fined him during the Clinton's administration, which was settled for over $1.5 Million. So why does he whine about Bush?
4.26.04 @ 12:28p
Because Clinton's policies never threatened to take him off the air.
Back in the Clinton days, he would just pay the fine and that would be that.
With Bush and the FCC crackdown, stations are choosing to drop him altogether instead of risking losing their license.
4.26.04 @ 1:05p
And it's Bush's fault that stations are choosing to drop him instead of paying 1/3 of the fine that they willingly paid before? I'm missing something here.
4.26.04 @ 1:25p
Yeah, because Bush told the FCC to crack down on this kind of stuff - so instead of just fines (as per previous administrations), the FCC is telling them they'll lose their license completely.
4.26.04 @ 1:41p
So either the previous fines did nothing to enforce the standards (but made the government richer)and thus a bigger threat was needed since the violators are not complying, or the standards shouldn't really be enforced and license revocation is undue. Consequently, we should go back to letting them pay for violations? The latter is what Howard seems to be saying.
4.26.04 @ 2:03p
I think Stern is arguing the decency point. What he did this time was the same thing that's been allowed before. He's mad they're changing the rules as they go.
4.26.04 @ 3:39p
Yeah. Define standards. Congress has only made a law about seven words that cannot be spoken on TV or Radio. Everything else is subjective. Chris Rock made a good point last week when he said that what's standard for the Stern show is different than what's standard for, say, Sesame Street. Also, the FCC seems to be taking specific aim at him. They decided not to fine Oprah, despite the fact that she talks about topics just as frank and sexually charged as Howard does.
In addition, the decision-makers at the FCC are presidentially appointed. Do you think Colin Powell's son (Michael) was elected as chairman? No. Bush put him there as a favor. This is why Howard's so anti-Bush.
4.26.04 @ 4:09p
They decided not to fine Oprah, despite the fact that she talks about topics just as frank and sexually charged as Howard does.
I think it's fair to say that the WAY Oprah talks about the topics is very, very different.
4.26.04 @ 4:55p
Who cares? The language/topic is either indecent or it isn't.
Here's a transcript from the Oprah show that the FCC decided not to fine. Keep in mind, this is a teenager saying these things:
The Oprah Winfrey Show Transcript
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Oprah: Lets talk about that secret language Michelle.
Oprah: I didn't know any of this
Michelle: I have yeah, I have gotten a whole new vocabulary let me tell ya
Oprah: I did not know any of this
Michelle: Salad tossing, cucumbers, lettuce tomatoes ok
Oprah: ok so so what is a salad toss?
Michelle: ok a tossed salad is, get ready hold on to your underwear for this one, oral anal sex, So oral sex with the anus is what that would be.
Michelle: a rainbow party is an oral sex party it's a gathering where oral sex is performed and rainbow comes from all of the girls put on lipstick and each one puts her mouth around the penis of the gentleman or gentlemen who are there to receive favors and makes a mark um in a different place on the penis, hence the term rainbow...
5.6.04 @ 1:21a
There's not one vulgar word in any of those quotes. Unless she made fart noises while describing it, she's nowhere near Stern.
Also, why hasn't anybody addressed the 1.5 million in fines the Clinton-run FCC collected? All anyone's mentioned was that Clinton's FCC didn't threaten to take him off the air (The current one didn't either, they threatened license revocation if better safeguards weren't put in place.) and that the current one is run by Powell's son, which is irrelevant, unless you already don't like Bush and are just supporting Comrade Howard in that dislike.