Why I Dropped A Whole Bunch Of Semi-Celebrity Tweeters

Twitter is an interesting thing on a lot of levels. Way more interesting than it should be, really. After all, it’s just a massive stream of unrefined short communications that you tap into selectively—and then, very often, just whittle down again.

It’s so amorphous as to be only as useful as you make it, and not really designed for the OCD-types like myself. My inclination is to want to read everything someone I’m following writes, but that’s only realistic for a smallish number of people. My time being so scarce lately, when I get to Twitter, I focus on the Althouse-lists like Darcy’s coffee-hellos or Ruth Anne’s FTA list.
Even then, I have to stop myself from paging back, back, back.

I used to follow a bunch of celebrities. Not exactly A-Listers. Mostly comedians, vets and wannabes, and some musicians. But I had—and have—a rule: Mock Palin and you’re off the list.
It’s not that I’m a Palin fan, though I think she’s very clearly an admirable woman. (Also, while I’m damning with faint praise, I think it’s pretty clear at this point that of the four of them, she’d have been the most consistently sensible President.) But the smear campaign run against her was the most appalling thing I’ve seen since Junior High. And that’s about the level of it: The cool kids, who are cool solely by virtue of agreeing that they’re cool and having the megaphone, decided to hate the pretty newcomer who wasn’t one of them.
The levels of the smears were the same level, too. First they went after her for the way she dressed, then they went after her for changing the way she dressed. They fabricated lies to smear her with than echoed them back-and-forth to each other as if they were fact. Their fury, increasingly impotent though it is, continues to rail at this woman who dares to survive and flourish even though she’s hopelessly, terminally uncool.
Nobody should understand this better than a comedian. Comedians are almost universally losers. Ostracized growing up. (Maybe not Dane Cook.) Still on the outside of society in a lot of ways.
And, frankly, when I see them piling on, I find it pathetic. It’s such a cheap shot.
I forget what it was that Palin had done—maybe the “death panel” comment—but I ended up dumping most of the celebs I followed when they started mouthing off about her. I don’t even remember who they are any more, for the most part.
James Urbaniak (who plays Dr. Venture on the inestimable Venture Bros. cartoon) was particularly vile, and not the only one. I almost felt bad for dropping Michelle Collins because she actually pleaded “Please don’t drop me” right after her joke. Dana Gould—Jeez, I’ve always loved Gould’s dark schtick, which is almost entirely centered on being a doomed loser, and he, this guy who looks like he’s never been so much as camping, decided to take a shot at Palin’s grasp of reality.
Who else? Oh, the lovely and talented musician Marian Call. She actually didn’t make a comment directly because she’s smart enough to avoid those subjects, and said as much. And then…the temptation must have been too much, since she coyly linked to a really gross insult.
Does unfollowing mean I won’t be supporting these people in the future? Yeah, actually, it probably does, at least for a little while.
I’m not much for fairness, but the whole assault on the Governor was so unfair as to get my hackles up. And I think this was obvious and blatant, and anyone being honest should be able to see that.
And, come to think of it, I never see comments like that from the few A-Listers I follow. (Kelsey Grammer, Kirstie Alley, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, etc.) I think that confirms my thesis about what’s behind the attacks.

Brunat

Last week at the movies, there was an ad for Michael Moore’s latest thing. I used to be a fan of Moore’s, actually. Roger and Me is a brilliant bit of propaganda as, I suppose, most of Moore’s work is.

What turned me against Moore wasn’t really politics. It was his show “TV Nation”. On an episode of that show, he did a story about a hospital where uninsured people who had received services were allowed to pay off their debt by working for the hospital. The people involved were happy with the program, patients, doctors, administrators alike.

Moore ingratiated himself to these people to get his interviews, and then turned around and opened up a slave trade across the street. You see, paying a debt you’ve incurred is morally equivalent to slavery.

I didn’t get the logic. But I’ll never forget the looks on these people’s faces as Moore hounded them for their thoughts about his little circus. Utter betrayal. Confusion. Hurt. He had no concept of his betrayal or empathy for those who had suffered it; people who had after all neither meant (nor committed) any evil–other than, of course, to possibly hold a different point-of-view from Moore. (That really wasn’t clear. The hospital solution was just one possible way to handle the situation. That people were happy with it doesn’t mean they might not have preferred a different route.)

This guy claims that Moore is a narcissist. And builds a good case. I don’t know. I do know he treats people poorly in pursuit of getting what he wants.

As the preview rolled, I realized that this is why I avoid Sacha Baron Cohen. I saw his “Ali G” show for a couple of episodes, but then avoided the rest and his movies. And not because he lacked talent. But because I feel a similar sort of deception going on.

But then Candid Camera used to strike me as kind of creepy, too.

Ed and Farrah and Michael and…Jeff?

Lots of people died this week, as they do every week. But this week, the deaths were especially significant to a lot of people, occurring as they did to people fighting for their freedom, and to people an inordinate number of us are familiar with at some level.

For the Iranians, I cheer and hope and pray. I’ve never met a Persian (which they always style themselves as here in the US) who wasn’t good-looking, good-natured and quick-witted. You wonder how their country could get so far gone.

Then there was a little buzz because Ed McMahon died. I was always surprised he didn’t die before Johnny Carson. He always seemed so much older to me. I loved him as the sidekick icon but always thought the Publishers Clearing House thing was sleazy. I hope he didn’t suffer much.

Then there was Farrah. I never had the poster, never would’ve had a pinup in my bedroom. (Even now, my breasts posts here are way gaucher than I’d ever be in real life.) But my proud and enormous mind was definitely mesmerized by “Charlie’s Angels”. I thought Jaclyn Smith was the prettiest at first (and a few years later, Kate Jackson), but Farrah had the smile–and I’ve always been a sucker for a big smile.

I saw the mediocre Sunburn (with Charles Grodin) and Saturn 3 (with Kirk Douglas), and then I didn’t see her much any more. I lostr track roundabout the time of The Burning Bed–which I think pioneered the modern tradition of sex symbols frumping it up to be taken seriously as actresses–a role that she earned praised for but which didn’t seem to lead to anything else.

Then it all seemed to be about the dysfunctional private life. Not a lot to smile about there.

Shortly thereafter, of course, Michael Jackson caused entire TV schedules to be upended with his heart attack. My dad said back around ‘83, when he hit it mega-big, that he thought Jackson would be dead by 40. Only off by a decade, there, pop.

I never bought an album and had completely lost track of Jackson by the time of Thriller. (Too busy playing my own music, I guess.) Catchy stuff, for sure, but not my kind of stuff. Not exactly the Paul Simon level of poetry or the Randy Newman level of irony or the John Lennon level of imagery. But the kids seemed to like it and you could dance to it….

Then Bad seemed to be the begining of the end. (I guess, again, not following closely.) Then all the child molestation accusations.

I make no claims to knowing the truth about that; it’s very easy for me to imagine that he was both remarkably inappropriate and yet not sexual. Find someone without an ulterior motive, you know?

Lastly there was Jeff Goldblum, who didn’t die but instead had the honor of being the fake death on the day when Farrah and Michael died. (Have you ever noticed that? Celebrity deaths are often followed by a fake celebrity death. I thought that immediately when I heard the rumor.)

Weird as it might sound, I’d probably take his death the hardest. I’ve always felt a kind of kinship with Goldblum whether he was turning into a fly, running away from dinosaurs or chasing lectroids across the eighth dimension.

So, glad you’re still with us Jeff. I’m afraid Walter is probably next in the queue.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Got a metric tonne of shite to do so I may be quiet this weekend.

I’ll probably go see Frost/Nixon and feel dirty about it.

My mom used to be a serious Frank Langella fanatic. I’m not kidding. She saw Sphinx–in a movie theater!–every day for a month, I think it was. She could recite dialog.

It was because of her that I saw, on opening day, Masters of the Universe in the Cinerama Dome! And the only other guy there, besides us, was James Noble, who played Governor Gatling on “Benson”.

The following year, she actually met him on the set of “Dr. Paradise”, a TV pilot that never got picked up. I think that was the end of her interest in him. Langella is a phenomenal actor, and absolutely fills a room like only a polished stage performer can, but when he’s off, he’s a mousy little guy and kind of effeminate.

Like all actors.

Except John Wayne.

And Rock Hudson.

Not Necessarily The News

In-between the various celebrity gushings over Obama (“I think he’s going to make change because he’s hopeful…and a communist.”) we have the usual non-celebrity news plus this trifle from IMDB:

Harry Potter star Emma Watson had never heard of screen legends Dame Maggie Smith and Gary Oldman before working with them on the blockbuster movie franchise.

Unlike many actors (including her co-stars) Ms. Watson is not only not older than the character she’s portraying, she was possibly even a bit younger, filming the first movie either as a ten- or newly-minted eleven-year-old.

How many of her peers would know who Maggie Smith or Gary Oldman were? And how? Repeated viewings of Tea with Mussolini or Sid and Nancy? Maybe Gary Oldman from The Fifth Element but really, how many current 10-11 year olds would know Maggie Smith if not for the Harry Potter movies?

Although kid/family movies are often looked down upon by serious actors and critics, that’s really the genre that survives over time. There were better and more famous actors than appear in Wizard of Oz, but those that did appear are immortal for their roles, no matter what they did afterwards.

Stalkers vs. Groupies

It’s not something that is likely to be an issue for me, or for most people, but looked at this video at Althouse and thought it was kind of creepy.

I mean, it’s obviously in fun, and the Obama girl is cute and all that. It would probably be fun if it didn’t remind me so much of a psychotic spoiled child. That is, I’ve sat through eight years of utterly divisive partisanship from Dems, with talk of stolen elections–eight years of temper tantrums–and now everything’s supposed to be lovey-lovey because the baby got his bottle?

No good, because I know the good times last only as long as the tantrumers get their way.

I’m sure I’ll see plenty of bad behavior from the Reps now, too, but they’ll have to work hard to match it.

I think what I found creepy is the overt sexuality towards a celebrity figure. I know it’s a common (if jokey) custom for couples to have “exception lists”. You know, if you happen to have an opportunity with Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt, your spouse gives you a “bye”.

But what if you’re on the Pitt/Jolie side? (This is why I said it’s not an issue for most people.) If you’re a celebrity, would you be attracted to someone who had this sort of almost stalker-esque relationship with you?

I mean, what’s the difference between a stalker and a groupie, other than one is wanted?

That’s a simplification, obviously, but there’s a gradient there from admirer to groupie to stalker. It’s not really the degree of admiration, so much, as the insular nature of it. I mean, you’re a guy and a gal in an office, and you see each other, and you talk casually, and you like each other, but you’re building a mutual thing there.

The more one-sided that is, the creepier it is. And in the case of groupies, it’s hugely one-sided: A huge investment to a non-existent one. For stalkers, it’s even moreso, as their huge investment is up against a negative one.

Which makes you wonder why anyone–particularly a highly desirable person–would actually engage with them?

(Probably for the sex.)

Names Dropped.

I got about 80% of the way through a post about all the celebrities I’ve encountered over the years, as a joke response to Troop’s reaction to my chance encounters with Leah Remini. (I naturally responded by constantly increasing the closeness of Leah and my relationship.)

Then I figured, why not list every celebrity you’ve encountered over the years and get it all out of the way. Besides, it would make an interesting/funny post.

But I got up to about 30 and it stopped seeming funny and started seeming sort of tasteless. (In a bad way!)

Go figger.

Paris Hilton Pegs The Irony Meter

McCain’s campaign ad suggesting Obama is a lightweight celebrity famous for being famous ended up pissing Paris Hilton, whose image it used (along with Britney Spears).

Paris apparently objects on the grounds that he didn’t ask permission to use her image.

Heh.

Here’s a woman who’s probably signed a deal with Lucifer to get her image out in every medium possible allegedly upset by the fact that someone, you know, put her image out there again.

I’m pretty sure it falls in the “fair use” category. He’s not suggesting you endorse him. You know, maybe he’s trying to smear Paris with associating her with Obama, didja ever think about that? Paris’ best counter-attack is probably to say she supports Obama.

Britney isn’t in the same category. She’s a has-been (with plenty of time to come back), not a never-was.

Donny Osmond

On our way back from Pasadena last night, we passed a Miley Cyrus billboard. Then a Hannah Montana billboard. (And the Disney studios. And then Warner Bros., where Rope was filmed.)

Anyway, I got to thinking about Donny Osmond. Back in the ‘70s Donny and sister Marie were huge. They were huge in a way that’s almost hard to comprehend today. It’s not exactly the same, mind you: On the one hand, the PR machines today seem a lot broader in scope. There was no Donny & Marie movie, on the one hand, but there’s no Hannah Montana SatAM cartoon on the other.

Anyway, when the Donny & Marie show ended, Donny’s 15-year career came to a crashing halt. He was 21 and probably didn’t remember a time when he wasn’t constantly getting more popular.

I almost felt sorry for the guy. Being a 21 year old and washed up can’t be easy. Sort of like Britney or Lindsay or any of these modern train wrecks.

I almost felt sorry, except for two things. First, he always came off like a jerk. It was fairly well sublimated on the show (men were the butt of jokes on the male/female variety shows of the ’70s), but he made no bones about it in subsequent interviews. Only recently have I seen something like Second, at some point, shouldn’t you just be grateful you had that time in the sun? Fifteen years is pretty long in show-biz terms, and it’s not like anyone owes you attention.

At that point, you ought to have enough money to pursue whatever you want, right? You have a big family, lots of money, you have it all. Lots of guys slave away for decades and never achieve anything like a fraction of the fame you have. And–be honest–you know many of them are better musicians and performers. So why the hell not be grateful and keep working at it (if that’s what you want) . Yeah, you’ll probably never get lucky like that again (and that level of fame always depends on luck), but at least you won’t spend the next 10, 15, or 20 years hating your life.

(Of course, I’m just assuming that’s the case from the few snippets of interview. Maybe he just gets angry when he gets interviewed.)

So. Yeah.

Anyway, I hope Miley doesn’t get bitter when her current level of fame subsides.