Sunday, January 16, 2005

Giving is its own Award

"Is it too late to call and vote for The People's Choice Awards?"

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Originally this was to appear on our blog-spawn The Oscar Grouch, but alas its content veered towards more general pop cultural (and unfortunately, political) commentary, which seemed more appropriate for The Dish]

If I were a cynical person, I might suggest that telethons had joined talk shows, Saturday Night Live and private Academy member parties as required destinations for Awards-whores. But I'm not.

Even though current contenders Jamie "I'll show up for any cause as long as there's a camera" Foxx (did anyone else see Stevie Wonder flinch when Jay Leno pronounced that Ray Charles himself was in the room?), Leonardo "Million Dollar Baby" DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Annette Bening, Uma Thurman, Quentin Tarantino, Don Cheadle, Natalie Portman, Kevin Spacey and (I think I saw) Hillary Swank were all there (I'm guessing Michael Moore's invitation for more media exposure got lost in the mail - or maybe he was just afraid to test his luck with Dirty Harry).

But like I said, I'm not a cynical person. The disproportianately large percentage of Academy Award chasers in attendance is most logically explained by this thing being arranged as a defacto pre-Golden Globes event (so all the New Yorkers and ex-patriots and location-shooters who are in Los Angeles because they're nominated could show up for phone bank duty).

And even though I snark, I actually have a great deal of respect for all the entertainers (even the ones I don't generally care for) who gave their time for this truly good cause. I think that a lot of times, celebrities get a bad rap when they try to use their fame to achieve something selfless that they believe in (be it political or charitable), but I say more power to them, even when they're supporting a cause I personally don't. Why shouldn't they voice their opinions just as passionately as any Average Joe with a bumper sticker just because they happen to have a bigger bumper? Shouldn't we encourage them to sell something other than their latest piece of formulaic crap? Like it or not, celebrities have power - and they can use that to motivate people to be generous. Didn't The President ask former Presidents Bush and Clinton to do exactly that (and what are they if not celebrities? Clinton was even number 18 on VH1's 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons list - smack dab between The Brady Bunch and Mickey Mouse)?

Speaking of The President, I think it's time he apologized for snarking that "the heart and soul of America" can't be found in Hollywood. This has nothing to do with political affiliations or any of his other actions or beliefs. This is about that stupid comment that he made repeatedly last sumer - from his stump speech to his Convention address. As someone who can be found in Hollywood, I took very personal offense to this divisive attack from The Great Uniter. Sure, there's a lot of unseemliness going on here (I'm looking at you John Mayer, Mr. Potty Mouth) and we have more than our share of immoral people (I don't mean that in the Judeo-Christian sense, but in the humanist sense) - but there are also a lot of genuinely good people here (including, I think, myself) who do genuinely good things (as evidenced by NBC's telethon and Sandra Bullock's, Steven Spielberg's, Celine Dion's and DiCaprio's generosity), even by President Bush's own standards:

But the greatest source of America's generosity is not our government: it's the good heart of the American people. In the weeks since the tsunami struck, private citizens have contributed millions of dollars for disaster relief and reconstruction.

I'm confused... is this the same "heart" that can't be found in Hollywood?

I'm not here to belittle The President by comparing his generous $10,000 personal donation to Sandra Bullock's generous $1,280,000 donation (though technically, her heart and soul can be found in Texas, she's still a movie star). Everyone gives what's right for them. I gave considerably less than either one of them. All I'm saying is that he owes Hollywood an apology (even Factor made nice (sorta) with his arch-nemesis, Bruce Wayne, seeing that sometimes Hollywood's heart and soul are in the right place).

The heart and soul of America can be found in every corner of America. And everywhere inbetween. How tough is it to say that? Certainly not as tough to say as "nuclear" or "underestimate."

Sorry. Cheap shot. But see, apologizing, not so difficult.

And seriously, look how many hits you get when you search for ""leonardo dicaprio" tsunami donation" - Harvey Weinstein couldn't buy that kind of publicity.

Oh and what were Rumer, Scout and Tallulah Belle doing there? Don't most celebrity parents try to shield their children from the glare of the media (nevermind)? And how does Bruce Willis say their names with a straight face -- or without thinking of this?

Damn it, there I go snarking again. Why don't I link to The Red Cross and we'll call it even?


Blogger Alison said...

That whole show was a trainwreck. I had to turn it off after 10 minutes. People couldn't read the prompters, Madonna sucked, so did most of the other performers. Oh, and did you catch whats-his-name Phillips? OH MY GOD. I had to mute the TV.

It's great that they want to raise money for the tsunami victims. But it's sad that they use the opportunity to talk to a star on the phone to get people to donate. Granted, I almost called to donate just to see who I would get to talk to, but I figured I would get some unknown person anyway. I'd rather go to the website. At least then I don't have a celebrity judging me because I can only afford to give $25.

January 18, 2005 12:14 PM  
Blogger The Pop Culture Petri Dish said...

Well, yes, it wasn't the best-produced special (I recently re-watched America: A Tribute to Heroes and even removed from immediate post-September 11 emotions, it holds up as a truly classy, touching and yes, entertaining affair). And most of the musical performances were shockingly off-key (save for Annie Lennox' powerful number). But like I said, I respected what they were doing, especially when I'm sure they all had better things to do on a Saturday night (like hookers and blow).

I called (I had planned to anyway, but decided to wait until the telethon to show my support for the heart and soul of Hollywood), but because of the tape-delay on the West Coast, I didn't get to talk to any celebrities (the only operator I really wanted to talk to was Quentin Tarantino anyway).

January 18, 2005 7:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home