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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |


Advertise on the Tentacle

August 7, 2006

Why Do We Even Care?

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Once again Americans are exposed to a major celebrity's bad behavior simply due to their notoriety. It's been stated here before, but these idiots really ought to stick to their scripts.

What is it about wealth, fame, and privilege that drives people to behave inappropriately; and more importantly, why do the rest of us care so much?

Mel Gibson, actor and director, gets sloshed. Then he gets behind the wheel of an automobile. Bad enough, right? How many thousands die on our nation's highways at the hands of an intoxicated driver?

It isn't enough for Mr. Gibson. When stopped by police, he turns into a little junior Nazi sympathizer, blaming his arrest, and pretty much everything else, on the Jewish people. Once safely in custody, he verbally assaulted a policewoman, making reference to her anatomy.

Even during a lull in the Middle East situation, his anti-Semitic tirade would be considered inappropriate; but the daily news coverage showing Hezbollah rockets raining down on Haifa, and Israeli troops storming into Palestinian territory makes it all the more shocking.

Mr. Gibson is no stranger to controversy. During the run-up to the release of his major motion picture "The Passion of the Christ," in which the final days of Jesus Christ are depicted in stark and brutal reality, he was castigated for portraying Jews in a negative light.

I didn't see the film, not because of a lack of interest, mostly because I already know the story, and don't need a visual aid to place it in context. The language of the Bible is good enough for me.

During the press junket associated with the release, Mr. Gibson defended himself by turning on his critics. His deeply held faith spurred him to defend both the making and distribution of the film. Good for him, using his enormous wealth to say something he felt needed to be said.

Unfortunately, it seems he wasn't as committed to his belief system as he should have been. Seems he forgot the little bit about obeying the laws of man, and getting into a car drunk is anything but Christ-like.

Today's headlines are full of these "stories." Paris Hilton, heiress to the Hilton Hotel fortune, is apparently unable to function without a drink in one hand, a microphone in the other, and a video camera in her boudoir.

Pop icon Brittany Spears is determined to bring the trailer park to Hollywood; and the media appears committed to helping her. Cruising down a Los Angeles street, Brittany has her cute little offspring bouncing in her lap. Not in the back of a limo, mind you. I'm talking about behind the wheel.

Susan Sarandon considers herself an activist first, an actress second. She and husband Tim Robbins look for crusades, and revel in the attention each new battle brings.

Actor George Clooney takes it a step further. He considers it his duty to serve as a spokesman, and is regular on Larry King and other talkbox venues to champion his latest cause.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is a drug addict, hooked on painkillers resulting from a back problem. Hey, it happens.

His problem wasn't with his back, it was with his mouth. At the same time he was popping pain pills, he was on the radio calling for stiffer sentences for illegal drug users. Guess he meant other illegal drug users.

Too bad there isn't a prescription for hypocrisy. If there were, maybe Mr. Limbaugh could "score" a handful.

Hands down, the big winner in the celebrity-as-court jester category is actor Alec Baldwin. Back during the 2000 campaign, Mr. Baldwin threatened to move to France if George W. Bush was elected president. He was; and he didn't. He did divorce Kim Basinger, so give him a little credit for doing something! I think I voted for President Bush partly in the hope he'd actually move.

Everyone deserves the right to express themselves, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. What isn't guaranteed is that anyone actually has to pay attention. That's where we deserve a share of the blame for this Hollywood-values intrusion.

Why do we expect them to do or say something important? They never have, and they never will. Simply because they star in a movie we like doesn't mean we need to pattern our lives after theirs, or even pay the slightest attention to anything they do or say.

What we like about most of these people is that they star in movies someone else writes, saying pithy and important things that appear in their scripts. When left to their own devices, they are considerably less interesting, even downright stupid.

A single Mom in Baltimore struggling to raise two kids among drugs, guns, and despair is an interesting story. A farm family in Frederick County fighting the forces of weather, markets, and development pressure to eke out a living is the same. And a Chesapeake Bay waterman battling the elements, pollution, and pricing to bring in a few backbreaking bushels of blue crab is compelling.

So, when we're in our daily lull, or standing in line at the grocery store, and we're assaulted with the latest Hollywood gossip, think about that Mom, that farmer, and that fisherman. Their contribution to our society is so much more valuable than a DUI arrest, drug charge, or stupid statement from some coked-up, alcohol-fueled, self-indulgent supposed celebrity.

Why would we even care?

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