Sunday, March 12, 2006


Over on James Wolcott's blog, we see a comment about Sharon Stone and Debbie Schlussel's obsessive attacks on her.

Schlussel--Dairy Queen's answer to Ann Coulter, the unthinking person's Monica Crowley--is incensed as only a rightwing blogger can be that the former star of Basic Instinct is making unauthorized noises about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while visiting the Mid-East. Here is one of the incredibly insensitive, inflammatory things Stone did while on tour in Israel.

"During her visit, Stone played football with a mixed group of Israeli and Palestinian children on Wednesday and later visited Israeli hospitals that care for Palestinian children."

For this outrage against all that is decent (how dare she!), Stone is called "crotch-woman" and other choice niceties.
"Crotch-woman"? Is that the best they can do? Weak.

Anyway, this obsession with celebrities actually opining on politics and international affairs is an old one on the right, and if you think about it, it doesn't really seem to make sense. I mean, sure, celebs can be somewhat idealistic and utopian, (on all sides- witness Arnold's belief that toughguy posturing could serve as effective governance), but it still doesn't really explain why they're so obsessed as to foam at their mouths whenever Bono opens his.

Now, however, I think I've figured it out. The common complaint is that celebrities don't know squat about policy. That is manifestly untrue in many cases- I'd match (as two prominent examples) Bono's knowledge of third world debt and Clooney's knowledge of foreign policy against most of the general public- including those rock-ribbed red staters that are lionized by Republicans for their common sense and insight. Sure, they might be wrong, but they aren't disproportionately uninformed, so why attack them for the latter?

See the title.. it's projection. Who the hell is Debbie Schlussel? What right does she have to talk about anything? Her bio says that she has a law degree and an MBA, but that doesn't qualify her to talk about foreign policy; hell, it barely qualifies her to talk about domestic policy, considering the type of people who are getting MBAs these days.

Going through her bio, her biggest credential is being a Republican and anti-Islamic hack; all her journalism credits are for "exposes" which, if as weak as her attacks on Roger Ebert for daring to support the case of an Iraqi Kurd, are beneath contempt. The "V" review shows that she has absolutely no idea how to write a review, as she completely ignored everything that, well, made the movie a movie...

...honestly, what kind of ace journalist isn't able to write a simple review?

This women is at the top of the heap, too. Most of the troglodytes that hunker beneath her are even less qualified to be "journalists", or writers, or analysts, or, well, much of anything. They are "journalists" because they're conservative hacks, not because they've actually written anything of note. Were they to switch sides, they'd be working in a factory. At best.

So, how to get credibility, when your bully pulpit is arbitrarily based on your political views? Criticize someone else's bully pulpit instead! Celebrities don't get credibility for being tools, they get credibility for being (generally, with key exceptions) good at something else. While Pitt and Jolie (as two quasi-activist examples) may be annoying at times, both have demonstrated that they're pretty good actors; Jolie in Gia, Pitt in River Runs Through It and Fight Club. Bono has had a longer and more influential musical career than almost everybody working today, and Clooney is a gifted actor and director, especially when handling the sort of political issues that Schlussel rants about in such a ham-handed fashion. All of these, and Sharon Stone, have demonstrated their dedication to the causes they espouse, Bono to a level that many would consider extreme.

So why the hell should anybody listen to a tool like Schlussel, when they could listen to someone like Clooney- who has demonstrated skill in a difficult and crowded field, and whose commentary is no worse than any number of Republican hacks?

Because the hacks made the accusation first! They insulate themselves from attacks by asserting their ability to judge who is, and isn't, a proper spokesman, and those already inclined to agree will go along with it. Nobody needs to know that Schlussel would be a non-entity if she were a Democrat. Nobody needs to know that she's a tool. If she and the rest scream loud enough about the other side, they'll be too busy with the accusations to think about them.

That's the only way that Schlussel and co. can dodge around the simple truth, as World o' Crap puts it:

Yes, Jolie only pretends to care about the world's poor, impoverished, poverty-stricken, not-rich children. Which is why she donated all that pretend money to UN children's programs, and contributed all that time and energy working on their behalf. Clearly, Angelina is a big poseur skank. (Unlike Debbie, who really helps needy children by, um, writing scathing blog entries about how some of them are being turned into camel jockeys.)
...the simple truth that there isn't a reason in the world to take them seriously, and listen to what they have to say.

To use an appropriate movie reference, they're Richard Gere, tapdancing as fast as he can go, trying to distract the audience. I liked that movie, but it's just no way to run a movement.

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