Monday, March 21, 2011

Celebrity Apartheid Week

Why not start a new tradition, a new week and the seven hundredth post with Celebrity Apartheid Week?

Don't look directly at it!

Is there any one group of people who deserve a week more than celebrities? You know celebrities - the people who, by pure virtue of their seemingly flawless features, demand some sort of regard for being in a TV show or movie, or having the most downloaded MP3. For one or all of those reasons, they believe they deserve respect for being the intellectual giants they aren't and wonder why people aren't chiming onto their alleged political prowess. Don't give me this nonsense that so-and-so gave money to this or that charity, and that you read so in a magazine. Yes, the celebrity in question got his or her reward. This person was in a magazine being seen doing something humanitarian by a vast and vapid audience. That sense of emotional warmth is not from digging a well, I can tell you.

Yes, there are good performers but there are also divas who crave attention like the cat that sits in front of the computer. But at least you can shoo the cat away.

Is that Jennifer Aniston's new hair do? No, it's just another cat.

Why do we value celebrities? Rather, why do we elevate celebrities above people and things that actually matter (ie- God, family, health, major world events)? Surely a major world occurrence is far more important than how this tart starlet does her hair or what some talentless hack with the voice of a choking hamster is wearing this time. This goes above and beyond admiring a well-made film. We've replaced higher and more sophisticated things with them.

How awful we are for giving them the time of day.

Let's start with something timely: where is Hollywood's overly visual relief for Japan?

The entertainment industry has rallied en masse following some of the world’s most devastating recent tragedies, organizing relief efforts for survivors of 9/11, the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, and last year’s earthquake in Haiti. The latter crisis alone prompted — mere days after the disaster — a star-studded charity telethon spearheaded by George Clooney and Wyclef Jean and which raised $57 million for the stricken nation. So why, in the wake of last week’s 9.0 magnitude Japan earthquake — and its resulting tsunami and nuclear crisis — have we heard so little from Hollywood this time around?

A week after the March 11 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami claimed over 6,000 lives (over 10,000 people are still reported missing), destroyed entire cities and ravaged a nuclear power plant to meltdown, no concerted group relief effort has been made in Hollywood. 

Instead, we’ve witnessed individual efforts varying from sympathy tweets to calls for donations via text message (which totaled $2.8 million by Wednesday, according to the American Red Cross) to personal contributions on the part of filmmakers, actors, musicians and corporations. Some celebrities got creative with their support: Lady Gaga began selling “We pray for Japan” bracelets soon after disaster struck, and has raised a reported $250,000 to date. Director Chris Weitz announced early in the week that  he’d donate $1 for every Tweet he posted in the month of March — and he’s been Tweeting up a storm. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda designed two charity T-shirts, one of which is emblazoned with the words, “Not alone.” And even before Sandra Bullock stepped up yesterday to publicly announce a personal pledge of $1 million to the American Red Cross, Charlie Sheen promised that $1 of every ticket sold for his upcoming “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour (which has sold out all of its dates, often in a matter of minutes) would go to the Japanese cause. A number of media corporations including Sony, Disney and Warner Bros. have pledged their support as well.

But in the general populace, as in Hollywood, there seems to be a hesitation to collectively jump to arms. Does America have relief fatigue?
Consider that in the wake of Haiti, dozens of celebrities announced significant personal contributions to charity, leading the cause by example. With her $1 million pledge to Red Cross, Bullock remains the lone major Hollywood figure publicly doing the same for Japan. Veteran publicist Michael Levine points to differing perceptions of Haiti and Japan on the scale of global power — i.e., Japan isn’t some poverty-stricken, underdeveloped country — as an explanation as to why image-conscious celebrities haven’t stepped up as urgently.

Aren't the Japanese "Katrina" enough? Is there no George Bush to hate?

Anyone in need is a charity case, whether at home or abroad. Japan, as a First World nation of non-looters, doesn't seem dramatic enough. I would consider losing one's home, freezing and starving in the dark, and a possible meltdown to be pretty dramatic. The support so far is quite generous and certainly needed. But there is no sense of urgency, no sense of cause celebre. Where are these moral vanguards of Hollywood when you need them?

Indeed, what would happen to Veena Malik (hat tip: BFC) if she pulled this stunt again? We know from the South Park debacle, 24, indeed, virtually any TV show or movie how apologetic Hollywood is to Islamofascists.  Who would have her back? Who is brave enough to risk a starring role in a soon-to-be panned sequel and say: "I stand with Veena Malik against Pakistani imams who preach lunacy and hatred"? I don't mean saying anything politically correct or innocuous. Where is their courage (unlike here and may I say it's about time)? I mean really give Islamofascists a black eye (figurative because anything else would be "barbaric"). If one can "bravely" attack the Catholic Church, Sarah Palin or George Bush, surely one can go toe-to-toe with prudish imam.

Speaking of Sarah Palin (they made her a celebrity when they tried looking up her skirt), she was in Israel:

Former American vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressed support for Jews praying openly on the Temple Mount on a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, officials who accompanied Palin said.

Palin and her husband Todd arrived for a two-day visit on Sunday afternoon and toured the Western Wall and its adjacent tunnels. They will visit the Old City again on Monday, tour Gesthsemane and the Mount of Olives, and have dinner with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at their official residence in Jerusalem.

(Sidebar:  two Sarahs are better than one.)


World Likud chairman and Likud MK Danny Danon and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz served as Palin’s tour guides on Sunday night. Palin was told that Jews were not allowed to pray openly on the Temple Mount and about the Arab riots that accompanied Netanyahu’s decision to authorize the creation of an exit from the Western Wall tunnels in 1996.

“Why are you apologizing all the time?” Palin asked her guides.

Palin expressed regret that she would not be able to visit Nazareth or Bethlehem during her brief stay in Israel, but promised that she would soon come back for longer.

“It’s overwhelming to be able to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith,” Palin told reporters upon exiting the tunnels. “I’m so thankful to be able to be here, and I’m thankful to know the Israel-American connection will grow and strengthen as the peace negotiations continue.”

Rabinowitz said that Palin prayed at the point closest to the Holy of Holies and left a note with a personal prayer. Unlike the incident that occurred when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the Western Wall in July 2008, nobody removed her note from the Wall and gave it to the press.

“She said that she absolutely supports Israel and that America is the biggest friend that Israel has,” Rabinowitz said.

When Rabinowitz shared the story of Purim with Palin, she told him it was especially meaningful to be at the Kotel on Purim.

Danon said that Palin’s visit to the Western Wall Tunnels was very exciting.

“She really connected to the story of the Jewish nation,” Danon said. “She knows the material but there’s nothing like standing in front of those big stones and hearing about the connection. I know that she loves Israel, and after a visit like this, she has a personal connection to the Western Wall.”

(hat tip: this guy)

Oh look- an  American politician who loves Israel. If only the man in charge did.

Mrs. Palin asked: "why are you apologizing all the time?"  Indeed. Why are they? Why does Obama apologise for America? What  is there to apologise for? 

And finally....

No, you can't make sense of the earthquake:

Hundreds of people at a Vancouver church offered prayers and donations Sunday for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, as they were told not even religion could explain the unspeakable tragedy that has befallen the east Asian country.

The 130-year-old Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in downtown Vancouver held a service Sunday afternoon that alternated between English and Japanese, bringing together Japanese-Canadians, members of other local Anglican congregations and people from outside the faith — many still coming to grips with the devastation unfolding across the Pacific.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami have together killed at least 8,600 people, with nearly 13,000 still missing and another 452,000 living in shelters. They have also sparked a continuing crisis at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant which has been leaking radiation since the natural disasters.

Sunday's service began with the thunderous rhythm of a Japanese taiko drum as a candle-lit procession entered the packed cathedral. Next to the pulpit at the front of the church stood a cherry blossom tree adorned with dozens of colourful, hand-made paper cranes.

Bishop Michael Ingham told the audience that disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are examples of "natural evil," which happen randomly and can't be explained by any divine plan.

"Natural evil is the result of things over which we have no control — earthquakes, tsunamis," Ingham said during the 90-minute service.

"We call them evil because they are evil. They wreak havoc upon the innocent and the defenceless. ... Natural evil is random. It is not planned. It afflicts us without reason and without human deserving."

No wonder people are leaving in droves.

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