Amoeblog

The Gods Must Be Crazy: Studying Celebrity Culture

Posted by Charles Reece, February 26, 2011 10:13am | Post a Comment
 
I have cleansed myself. I closed my eyes and in a nanosecond, I cured myself... It's the work of sissies. The only thing I'm addicted to is winning. This bootleg cult, arrogantly referred to as Alcoholics Anonymous, reports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math ... another one of their mottoes is "Don't be special, be one of us." Newsflash: I am special, and I will never be one of you! I have a disease? Bullshit! I cured it with my brain, with my mind. I cured it, I'm done ... you don't look like you're having a lot of fun. I'm gonna hang out with these two smoking hotties and fly privately around the world. It might be lonely up here but I sure like the view, Alex!
 
-- Charlie Sheen on being a god

Could Sheen's firing from Men Behaving Badly be a sign of the end times for pop culture's Valhalla, that people will no longer put up with stars' egotistic bullshit? Nah, it's more like Ragnarök in the Thor comics, a cycle that's created by them, for them, but marketed to all of us -- diversionary entertainment at its purest. Here are some other recent examples:

the beaver mel gibson

Peter Biskind covers Mel Gibson's id in "The Rude Warrior" for Vanity Fair. Anyone who's read the author's books (e.g., Star, Down and Dirty Pictures) knows he has a penchant for overstatement, particularly when it comes to analogizing between a filmmaker's films and his or her personal life. This results in a hilarious reading of the movie I'm most anxious to see:

[The Beaver] features Gibson talking through a hand puppet that enables him to voice feelings he’s incapable of expressing directly, has been the object of much raillery. It hits every note in the Gibson songbook, and then some—most prominently, a suicidal dad redeemed by his son. (Foster says she took the script to Gibson because she thought it would speak to him personally.) But the film is so uncompromising, and directed with such delicacy, that it cuts through the sticky sentiment that is Gibson’s stock and trade. Foster manages to find in his preoccupations an authenticity that he has never been able to convincingly dramatize himself; she’s his beaver, so to speak.

I'm not sure he actually realized what he was writing in that last sentence, but what a double entendre.

tom cruise scientology

In "The Apostate" at The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright interviews filmmaker Paul Haggis (e.g., Crash, Million Dollar Baby) about his fallout with The Church of Scientology, while detailing, along the way, the cult's history and its calculated relationship with Hollywood. There's so much great material here that it's hard to pick just one example, but Scientology's use of Sea Org (its missionary wing) for slave labor is fascinating. Take ex-member John Brousseau's involvement in providing favors for Tom Cruise:
 

In 2005, [Church leader and chairman David] Miscavige showed Cruise a Harley-Davidson motorcycle he owned. At Miscavige’s request, Brousseau had had the vehicle’s parts plated with brushed nickel and painted candy- apple red. Brousseau recalls, “Cruise asked me, ‘God, could you paint my bike like that?’ I looked at Miscavige, and Miscavige agreed.” Cruise brought in two motorcycles to be painted, a Triumph and a Honda Rune; the Honda had been given to him by Spielberg after the filming of War of the Worlds. “The Honda already had a custom paint job by the set designer,” Brousseau recalls. Each motorcycle had to be taken apart completely, and all the parts nickel-plated, before it was painted. (The church denies Brousseau’s account.)

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Hair Penitent: Shampoo (1975)

Posted by Charles Reece, March 14, 2010 10:33pm | Post a Comment
 

Peter Biskind's new book, Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America, is an enjoyably salacious tale of the intersection between star power, the death of the 60s and auteurship. During the editing of Reds (1981), Beatty's team took to calling him Masturbeatty due to his obsessive-compulsive tendencies that resulted in an estimated 3 million feet of film (which shifted even Stanley Kubrick to Ed Wood's one-take side of the production curve). He made Gene Hackman do over 80 takes for one line, and then required his editors to consider the nuances of each delivery to divine the best interpretation. Editing took about a year and a half. That is to say, Beatty wasn't fond of the accidental and liked to be in complete control, which sums up his personal relations, as well:

"Two people cannot both live for one person[.] Warren didn't want me to act. He wanted me to be with him all the time[.] When Barbara Walters asked him about all the women in his life, he said, 'Well, they always broke up with me, I never broke up with them.' While I was watching the interview, I was holding m stomach laughing so hard [I fell] on the floor. That certainly is the strategy that works for some men. But you can't go with a hundred different women and a hundred different women reject you, over and over again, when you're such a wonderful person." -- Michelle Phillips

Probably the most notorious Lothario of the 60s and 70s, Beatty's line of sexual conquests rivals his spools of film footage (Biskind estimates over 12,000, not including hand- and/or blowjobs). Like his politics, his sexual preferences were rather staid, but the power trip wasn't all that far off from what Pasolini depicted in Salò. He'd point, and one of his handlers would fetch. "Masturbeatty" is right -- who needs one's own hand when others are willing to do it for you? And like most cads, he was possessive of the women (at least the ones who stayed with him for more than 5 minutes), narcissistically requiring a level of devotion that he never expected of himself ('serial monogamy' was his euphemism for it). He was the embodiment of what many feminists defined as "free love," another excuse for male domination.

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