Washington, famously, is Hollywood for ugly people. Unlike Hollywood, no one in the federal has weighed in on the Roman Polanski matter, although Hillary Clinton has been getting phone calls from her French counterpart, who may himself be out of step with France. Bill – perhaps sensing a certain vulnerability on the issue of canoodling with younger females – has also wisely kept his tongue.
Politicians face re-election after all, and this particular issue is broadly toxic on a bipartisan basis. No one, left or right, will get re-elected on a platform of pardoning child rapists. I guess with all of the other divisions in our society, it’s pleasing to know that some standards still abide.
Which is only part of the reason why the clamorous tintinnabulation coming out of Hollywood proper sounds so jarring to my ears.
We don’t ask very much of Hollywood but that they entertain us, and we reward them handsomely for doing so. They transport us from the daily grind of our domestic routines. Their angels fly higher, their demons are more evil, their dramas are, well – more dramatic than our own. In his Bourne identity, Matt Damon faces more “other government agency” action than most of us will see in a lifetime. Even those within “other” government agencies. Everyone wants a Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze pottery scene, but none of us will ever have one. Very few of us will fly through space, and none of us, I think, will visit other planets. Unable to achieve these things for ourselves, we pay good money for Hollywood to give them to us, however ephemerally.
Highly paid screenwriters ensure that no one ever lacks for the mot juste in Hollywood cinema, the right thing to say always comes at just the right moment. For the great majority of us, the perfect comeback always comes a bit too late. Awkward silences are for dramatic or comedic effect, not a product of our inability to find the right thing to say.
Actors are physically perfect unless their role requires imperfection, in which case they are perfectly imperfect.
We forgive them their little peccadilloes, their tendency to make and break marriages for example. Hollywood stars are imbued with the resources that enable them transcend our bourgeois morality. After all, whomever is currently schtupping Madonna will probably be just all right when the new boy toy comes along. And if Brangelina go their separate ways, the kids will still have their trust funds. We may even envy them their outrageous parties, without begrudging them the experience. We live vicariously through them, to a degree.
We share, after all, a common humanity. Few of us may be gifted with the genetic advantages of a Kate Beckinsale or a Johnny Depp but if Christopher Walken and Judi Dench can get through the door to the casting room, then it could have happened to anyone, given native talent and the right breaks.
Hollywood is notoriously liberal and often not terribly thoughtful, which some conservatives find off-putting. Most of us understand that “artists” tend to be more sensitive souls, and forgive them their lack of consideration for the rest of us. It’s understandable for people sitting atop $200 million dollars to be willing to make do with a mere $100 million, even if it’s less forgivable for them to ask those of us with a net worth of say $200k to put our kids through college on half of that.
Still, we invite them into our homes night after night. And go to visit them close by in our neighborhood cinemas. When a celebrity dies an untimely death, we feel their loss in a personal way.
So no, we don’t “vote” for Hollywood stars. But we do pay them. And now Whoopi Goldberg has gone on record making the distinction between “rape” and “rape rape” in the case of a 13-year old girl that was unquestionably drugged, raped and sodomized by a middle age movie director. Deborah Winger has said that, oh, that was such a long time ago. As though the failure see justice done is not the fault of the child rapist who successfully fled justice.
The list of those who would apologize for child rape goes on; Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen (!), David Lynch, Tilda Swinton and Monica Bellucci.
And now the rest of us are forced to ask ourselves, who are these people? And what on earth can have compelled us to invite them into our homes? Why are we paying for this?
And how do we get them out?