June 22, 2010

We need to do our part to let BP know there are consequences for causing something like this… The more costly their punishment, the more money they will spend to make sure disasters like this don’t happen again. It’s plain and simple capitalism.

—Jonathan Davis of rock group Korn, who is refusing to gas up his band’s tour bus with BP fuel this summer and who also wants you to know his band is touring this summer

The stars are falling from the sky to save Planet Earth again. Uninvited or not, Hollywood’s fantasy clowns have chosen to send themselves into the middle of yet another real-life catastrophe. The red carpet is unrolling itself right into the sticky-icky Gulf of Mexico to address the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Though nearly all of them are technically little more than entertainers, Tinseltown’s luminaries are conscious and aware and engaged and involved in this issue. As philosopher Ashton Kutcher has opined, “I mean, we have to be conscious, like this is, this is not a right, it’s a privilege to be on this planet and using its resources, and we have to be smart about it.”

These self-consciously smart and privileged entertainers know that countless baby shrimp are suffering and that several pelicans are unhappy. They want to halt the impending dolphincaust, shrimpocaust, and pelicaust. They long to crouch down in the dirty sand and tell every last oyster that it’s going to be OK. They lose sleep at night knowing that already-endangered sea turtles are now facing even more danger. And what about the baby crawfish? Do these corporations not care about baby crawfish? No, because these corporations put PROFITS before the baby crawfish.

They know, man, that it’s like, not cool, dude, what’s going on in the Gulf. They hazily understand that this is a “political” situation. And that the environment is, like, a righteous cause to support. And that corporations are, like, not cool to support, whether or not mega-corporations support them for a living. As Kevin Costner, the dubious fistful of brains behind Waterworld, recently waxed so eloquently, “I’m just really, uh, happy, that, uh, the light of day is being, uh, has come to this and I’m very sad about why it is, but this is why it was developed, and like anything that we all face as a group, we face it together.”

Together we face these stars as they face us, all of us facing “it” together. They are here to help. They are here to heal. They are here to be photographed. They are here to clean the dirty oil out of our souls. They will sign petitions. They will make pledges. They will appear on posters. Above all else they are certain, however blurrily they define the terms, that they are doing good and the other guys are doing wrong.

“Is it too much to expect that, at least once in a man’s lifetime, Hollywood celebs will simply shut up and not comment on matters about which they’re not qualified to comment?”

And this is why they stink like dead pelicans to me. They are infusing a tragic situation with bilious brown geysers of sanctimony. They spew so much nauseating, holy-rolling, oilier-than-thou self-righteousness, you couldn”€™t clean it with one of Kevin Costner’s giant centrifuge machines. You couldn”€™t plumb its depths with James Cameron’s entire fleet of underwater robots.

Verily, who is more equipped to deal with real-life problems than people who are paid to pretend they’re someone else?

Monday night on CNN, Larry King, a living fossil who apparently knows a lot about fossil fuels, hosted a telethon called “€œDisaster in the Gulf: How You Can Help.”€ It was the most half-assed, lifeless telethon I”€™ve ever witnessed and should have been called “€œDisaster on the Tube.”€ The opening montage featured the compulsory images of an oily pelican whose facial features looked remarkably like Larry King’s.

Ultimately, some good will come of all these efforts”€”namely, these performers will feel good about themselves. And then they will fly home on giant, energy-efficient butterfly wings.

Not that the high-class yobs at British Petroleum have helped their own case, what with feigning concern “€œabout the small people”€ and attending yacht races and whining about wanting to get their lives back. But it serves none of their reputedly rapacious corporate greed to let the leak continue. The leak is destroying their company while it muddies the wetlands. They have enough money and can buy sufficient numbers of scientists to have been able to plug this leak already…if anyone on Earth actually knew how to do it. Would anyone less flaky than a Hollywood star seriously believe that anyone is purposely dragging their heels about plugging this hole?

Unlike George Costanza on Seinfeld, I do not pretend to be a marine biologist. Unlike all the performers on Larry King’s telethon, I”€™ll concede that I know absolutely nothing about what caused the leak and what will stop it, so I can”€™t pass judgment about exactly who is right and wrong in this situation. I have read the Wikipedia entry about the sequence of attempts that have already been made to try and stop the leak, and it gave me a headache. I fear there may not be anyone alive who has a definitive answer and that the oil may only stop flooding the sea after a torturous process of trial and error.

Yes, corporate greed can be very ugly. But the same is true for theatrical vanity and uninformed arrogance. It’s been said that “real bad boys move in silence,” and the same can be said for truly good people. I suspect that in most cases, anonymous philanthropy has purer motives than the kind you see on TV.

A lot of unlistenable songs and unwatchable documentaries are going to come out of all this. Is it too much to expect that, at least once in a man’s lifetime, Hollywood celebs will simply shut up and not comment on matters about which they’re not qualified to comment?

Human beings who think they can save the Earth remind me of terminal patients who think they can save their life-support machines. In their blind egoism, they completely invert the natural state of things. We depend entirely upon the Earth, while the Earth could get along fine without us. We are but fleas on the Earth’s balls”€”one scratch, and we”€™re all gone.

But try telling any of that to a Hollywood actor.


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