Kirsten's Fan Club
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, people are calling
Hollywood the worst thing its residents could imagine --
Hollywood is not irrelevant. To the contrary, today Hollywood
has its biggest chance to shine in the last fifty years. Instead
of producing more of the kind of world-weary, cynical fare
moviegoers have been subjected to the past few decades,
Hollywood can and should take a cue from its past --
specifically, World War II.
During World War II, Hollywood spent its time and money
making pro-American, morale-boosting war films that reminded the
public why we were at war -- and why we were going to win. These
movies were not abstract, intellectual explorations of the
morality of the war. They didn�t try to make Americans see the
war from the enemy�s perspective. Those movies came later.
During the war, as ever, the role of Hollywood was to entertain,
Movies that vindicated the war effort were just the beginning
of Hollywood�s support during World War II. Many actors and
performers traveled great distances and put themselves in harm�s
way to entertain our troops personally with the United Services
Organization (USO). Such performers were volunteers, as the USO
does not pay any fee for entertainers� work. USO performances
were high points in an otherwise frightening life for many of
our brave young soldiers.
Speaking of soldiers, in World War II they counted Academy
Award-winning actors among their ranks. In 1941, actor Jimmy
Stewart (It�s a Wonderful Life) joined the Army Air
Corps. And at the 1943 Oscars (which were modified as to not
call undue attention to the stars), soldiers/actors Alan Ladd
and Tyrone Power waved a banner honoring Hollywood�s service
men and women.
In an interview with CNN earlier this week, Ladd�s son
David said of his father: "He felt it was his duty to go to
war. Especially for kind of macho stars, it was embarrassing to
be kind of living in the lap of luxury in Hollywood while other
men were out dying." Such embarrassment is rare or
nonexistent among young stars today.
And therein lies the rub -- Hollywood is not irrelevant, it
is the stars themselves who are irrelevant. In our
celebrity-obsessed culture, mere actors and actresses have
allowed their egos to inflate to the point where they seem not
to know if they are god or man. Divine or no, celebrities know
one thing well -- they are VIPs, Very Important People. Very
Important People do not risk their lives to go to war, for if
they died, the world would have no one left to revolve around.
Very Important People instead sit in their multi-million dollar
mansions thinking of ways to make the war All About Them.
It was reported recently that actor Alec Baldwin went to
Ground Zero in New York, surveyed the scene, and commented that
this is a great time to be in New York. He went onto say that if
another attack happened, he wanted to be there, because just
being present for something like that makes one more important
than if one was somewhere else when an attack occurred.
The celebrity quest for self-importance has recently delved
into the absurd as Hollywood moguls, feeling �left-out,�
have started popping pricey Cipro pills in the absence of
anything even resembling anthrax. Rob Long of National Review
Online recently opined that Hollywood power players are
"suddenly not on the �A� list of people to
poison." He continues: "This is hard for us to swallow
-- I mean, if we were going after the really important people,
we�d certainly hit us."
I suspect Mr. Long was writing a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the
sentiment in Hollywood is not a joke. These are people with
serious superiority complexes. That they would not be the first
and foremost targets of international terrorism is unbelievable
I, of course, have a list of New Yorkers and Washingtonians
(including, lately, myself) who would be happy to trade places
with worried celebrities. It�s a good trade -- they get to
stay important, and we finally get a little peace.
Kirsten's Fan Club
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