At the risk of being viewed as a skinless person in a sandpaper world, I have to admit that in the last couple of years or so, I have really added more and more actors, entertainers, musicians and writers to my own private boycott list – in fact, I have added more in the last year by a factor of twenty to one than I ever added over the last three decades. I still can’t decide if this is because my toleration of stupid celebrities mouthing off has just withered away to the thickness of tissue paper in recent years, or there are just more stupid celebrities who feel obliged to step up to the plate and make a demonstration of their general f**kwittedness in those intervals when they are not actually entertaining us.

Jane “Hanoi” Fonda was the first actress that went on my personal no-dice list, for historic reasons which should need no explanation here. Hasn’t made a movie in years, but I skipped the exercise tapes as well, just on general principles. Next on the list – Cat Stephens, following the 1989 fatwa issued on Salman Rushdie for the Satanic Verses. Mr. Cat publicly supported the fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khoumeni. Frankly, the only output of Mr. Cat which merited my boycotting was his hit Peace Train– which had achieved the status of a Golden Oldie by that time. Eh – we had a library full of Golden Oldies, when I was working as a AFRTS radio dee-jay. I was happy to play anything other than Peace Train for all the rest of my time serving in this duty. I suppose I ought to add in Marlon Brando, post-Apocalypse Now, for general serious weirdness, elephantiasis of the ego and screwing up what could have been a fairly decent movie. And as much as I could, I avoided John Landis. Not for anything he said – but for directorial incompetence in setting up a film-stunt involving a hovering helicopter in the Twilight Zone Movie, which managed to kill Vic Morrow and a pair of child-actor extras. Basically, he skated away from manslaughter charges on that one. Call me Miss Judgmental, but I cherish my grudges.

Move on into this present century, and what riches there are, as far as Celebs Mouthing Off! Really, one is spoiled for choice. Induction into my personal hall of shame is reduced from something that would resemble Grand Central Station at rush hour through the happy chance of not being particular fans of certain directors, actors, musicians and writers anyway. Having never watched anything of Oliver Stone’s oeuvre after Platoon, and nothing at all of Michael Moore’s – eh. Is it really a boycott if you never watched them anyway? Or a star who never really appealed, like Barbara Streisand? On the other hand, it’s a bit of a mild wrench to walk away from actors and writers whom I really did enjoy watching, or reading, once upon a time; Susan Sarandon, Matt Damon, and Jane Smiley. (Hey, I loved Moo, and the Greenlanders.) Rosie O’Donnell once was funny; she had the best lines evah! in A League of Their Own. I suppose the biggest wrench of all was not listening to Garrison Keillor any more. I used to love Prairie Home Companion, and never missed an airing of the show on Saturday afternoons, or the repeat airing the next day . . . but GK just got too one-sided with the political comedy, too snide and mean-spirited, and finally it just got too much.

Really, I would have preferred to think of actors, singers and the like to be just another sort of well-trained, costumed, performing monkey. Put on the costume, go out on stage or on the set, say the lines, and then go the hell away; don’t lecture me about politics, religion, the environment, politics or nuclear war from the bully pulpit of your celebrity. The odds are that my opinions on any and all of those matters will probably differ, and in some cases, differ substantially from a large chunk of those in the audience – and presuming to lecture me from a position of presumed moral authority on your part will have the effect of seriously annoying me. It may seriously annoy me to the point of not going to your movies and shows, watching or listening to them on radio and television, and never buying any of your DVDs or CDs – ever again. Look what happened to the Dixie Chicks and think of that as a cautionary tale. I am sure that they felt all morally-superierly after kicking their fan-base in the teeth, but having an appeal which is becoming increasingly selective does translate to a smaller audience; not a good thing in the long run. Audiences do not remain around forever, Wayne Newton to the contrary. Encouraging them to head at speed for the exits – not a good long-time career move.

Which is not to say that celebs shouldn’t have opinions or take up causes near and dear to their hearts. Heck, save the whales, adopt an orphan, dish up meals for the homeless, come and help bail out a flooded area, convert to an off-brand religious sect, whatever. Just don’t beat us over the heads with it, ‘kay? Walk the fine line, keeping in mind that we’ve got our own causes and our own problems.

Comments closed.