The politics of fame
One of the downsides of being famous is that folks pay far more attention to you than they should. American celebrities are constantly under surveillance, and every word they say is subject to scrutiny. So be careful what you wish for if you desire fame. No human being should be a goldfish.
That being said, some celebrities simply cannot keep their mouths shut, weighing in on topics they know little or nothing about. And when that happens, the famous person often undergoes even more scrutiny.
You may remember that in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, comedian-actor Jim Carrey mocked the death of Charlton Heston in an anti-assault rifle rant on the Internet. Seeing as Carrey’s career is not exactly on an upward trajectory, the controversy he created was not to his benefit. So this week, old Jim recanted, at least somewhat.
Here’s what he tweeted: “Asslt rifle fans, I do not agree wth u, nor do I fear u but I do love u and I’m sorry tht in my outrage I called you names. That was wrong. … Calling ppl names is inappropriate but my position on assault weapons hasn’t changed.”
Now, why is Carrey asking for forgiveness? Is he genuinely consumed with love and remorse, or is it a career ploy by his management people to bring him some positive attention? Impossible to say, but one thing is clear: Carrey does not want to talk about his gun position in detail. When offered a hearing on the highest-rated cable news show in the country, he declined.
I suspect that Carrey is an emotional guy who often speaks before he thinks, something most human beings are guilty of from time to time. But there is now a growing trend in Hollywood to use cyberspace to opine on all kinds of things. This does not often lead to prosperity.
A few weeks ago, a bunch of famous folks released an Internet video calling for “an end to nuclear weapons.” That’s very nice, is it not? Who wouldn’t want a world free of nukes? Well, maybe Iran. Perhaps North Korea. China kinda likes its nuclear arsenal. And that Vladimir Putin really likes the flash-bang concept.
So while Alec Baldwin, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, Matt Damon and others opine that all nukes should go, the world’s villain lineup giggles. I mean, can’t you just see the Chinese big shots meeting in the Forbidden City saying, “Hey, Baldwin and Damon don’t want nukes, so we must comply immediately!”?
Here’s why this dopey stuff happens: It’s all about approval. Somebody comes up with a concept for a video, and some famous people hop on the bus. Why not? All their friends agree that nukes are bad, and certainly, taking liberal positions is a resume enhancer in show business.
But in the end, “stupid is as stupid does,” to quote Forrest Gump. If celebrities want their opinions to be taken seriously, they need to get off the Net and into the debate arena. Otherwise, they’re just tweeting in the wind.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor” and author of the book “Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama.”
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