In an election year — and are we having any other kind of years lately? — we regularly get a large dose of insufferable condescension and demagoguery from our entertainers in Hollywood about how we should think, vote, and live our lives. Luminaries such as Barbra Streisand, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Sean Penn instruct and scold us on issues such as foreign policy and law enforcement without a whit of common sense or personal experience. Sean Penn travels to Iraq as a guest of the genocidal government and wonders why we want to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
For those still inclined to see Hollywood as a place where people go to become enlightened, a sort of Taos On The Sea, this article from today’s Telegraph should disabuse you of any notion of intelligence among the power brokers and talent elite:
Few seemed dulled by the alcohol they had already consumed and it was clear why. Little plastic bags were being thrown on top of table tops, their contents dirty white crystals, the flakes far bulkier than the powdered cocaine that had become an all too familiar sight at any LA event with its inevitable gaggle of talkative coke addicts.
This was crystal meth, the latest drug to sweep through Hollywood’s entertainment industry and draw with it an ever-expanding band of adherents loving its long-lasting high, weight-losing side-effects and – most depressingly of all – the knowledge that they were doing the latest cool thing, whatever the catastrophic effect it would have on their bodies. … It was suddenly available everywhere and it is the fashionista who have embraced it – producers, agents, writers, actors – many for the most base of reasons: that it is something new.
Oliver Poole writes about his personal experiences with the people in Hollywood and their patterns of drug use, noting that the trends at the industry parties get reflected on the silver screen. When heroin was chic, Leonardo DiCaprio starred in The Basketball Diaries, and before that, it was cocaine in Bright Lights, Big City and Less Than Zero. The past few years, Ecstasy was the drug du jour and played out in films like Groove, Bad Boys II, and Millenium. Now crystal meth has swept through the entertainment industry, and we’re seeing it in films like Mickey Rourke’s Spun and The Salton Sea.
Poole quotes a mother who has tried an intervention with her 22-year-old daughter that explains the issue succinctly:
“It destroys lives,” she said. “It destroyed my family and now it’s infected Hollywood. And Hollywood creates trends. It determines what is cool. They will be smoking meth across the country soon. Then watch out for London because it’s going to start being seen as cool there too. That’s fashion for you and trends start here.”
I love movies; I watch all kinds, and I enjoy most of them. I appreciate artistry in cinema. But I don’t take the mainstream entertainment industry seriously when it comes to anything else except the example they provide, and by any measure that is nothing but failure. Keep this in mind when you are watching the Oscars and the few who are lucky enough to win an award for their talent put their ignorance on display during their acceptance speeches.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds suggests more reading along these same lines, a new book called Hollywood, Interrupted. I may add that to my ever-growing reading list. Publisher’s Weekly didn’t think too highly of it, but Amazon’s readers give it five stars…