Do you know the joke about the ventriloquist who was having trouble landing gigs so he went into business as a medium? His first customer was a wealthy widow who wished to converse with her dear departed mate, Clarence. He assured her this could be managed without a hitch. She seemed eager to proceed but first she asked the price for this venture into the metaphysical realms.
"One hundred dollars for a regular conversation. And for two hundred I can do it while drinking a glass of water."
In the age of Lindsay Lohan and her ditzy ilk, I often think these celebs cannot utter a single intelligible word while their managers are having that drink of water. Presumably this is by design. The agents, managers and producers have their turfs staked out well in advance and they prefer a malleable mall rat to a bright person brimming with actual opinions. Some smart ones slip through the cracks; the blockers cannot maintain the eternal vigilance which is the price of their liberties.
So it is that the trajectory to Number One is with a dumb-dumb bullet. Which in a way is a relief to us audience types as well. We enjoy a covenant of sorts with the performers. They can share their recipes, skin care tips and saccharine left-wing orthodoxies in press conferences and on talk shows in return for supplying us with light entertainment in music and film. Leave the penetrating insights to serious literature which for the hours we can devote with full attention to culture and the humanities. When a Jane Fonda shows up in Hanoi or a Sean Penn in Saddam's Baghdad, they have crossed the line into flagrantly seditious behavior forcing us to take them seriously. And nothing could be more mutually detrimental.
The latest instance of such a leap out of the box into the loony bin has been taken by the very talented Angelina Jolie. Her father, Jon Voight, is one of the rare outspoken conservatives in Hollywood, but the daughter is of a quirkier breed. Fair enough as long as she is advocating for flavor-of-the-month liberal causes. This time she has gone too far. She invited the deported Russian spy AKA Anna Chapman to attend the Moscow premiere of Jolie's new movie, Salt. Apparently the character resembles Ms. Chapman in trying to balance spy craft with career obligations or some such nonsense.
Amazingly this has been widely reported in news and gossip sources with no sense that there are moral implications. The producers of the film earnestly announced an effort to locate the elusive Ms. Chapman to tender the invitation. Alas they could not track her down; perhaps those pesky KGB buffoons had not yet signed off on her debriefing. Imagine the brutishness to prevent a young woman from attending a gala media event as a movie star's personal guest. Next thing you know they will deprive Lubyanka prisoners of their Elton John CDs.
Is it just me, or is there another sensible person on the planet who thinks we should not be inviting Russian spies to American cultural events as conquering heroes? It may be fodder for Page Six in the New York Post to exploit some outwardly attractive features of a captured spy, but that should not transform her into a likable hail-maiden-well-met to be added to the A list.
Perhaps it is uncouth to mention, but spying for a foreign government against the United States is an act of treason. It endangers the lives of our citizens and our military, with implications also for allied countries This is not cute. It is not a yuppified version of playing Clue at a cocktail party. It is not recreation for some sweet young thing looking to put charge into her vanilla suburban existence. This is not a game and those who play it play for keeps. The thirty-pieces-of-silver is not the new twenty-questions. If we have to swap spies and throw the fish back into the sea, that does not make them less poisonous. Shame on you, Angelina, for making prettiness a higher virtue than patriotism.
This reminds me of the old lady trying to park her Cadillac. She is about to back into the one space available on the block. Suddenly some young fellow grabs the spot ahead of her by driving forward into the space from behind. "Sorry, lady, that's what you can do when you are young and quick."
She calmly continues to back up, smashing his car into smithereens. "Sorry, kid, that's what you can do when you are old and rich."
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