Thursday, October 28, 2004

Of Hollywood and Kennedy

Two seemingly unrelated thoughts today, but I think I can thread them together. Bear with me.

First, I am not a gushing fan of Hollywood. I've lived all too close to "that town" pretty much all my life. It doesn't really have anything that I need. I am especially disenchanted with most of what Hollywood touts as "stars." One year I had an opportunity to sing for the Hollywood Bowl's annual (at least, it was annual back then) Easter Sunrise service. As a twenty-something year old male, I fully expected to be dazzled by Hollywood's version of feminine pulchritude. I made two observations having seen these ladies fairly up close:

1. They are short. Seriously, if it weren't for the hair and heels, most of them would only make it to my chin. I'd gotten used to the camera tricks of shooting at a slightly upward angle to make everyone, women included, appear taller. Sheesh.

2. Makeup generally only covers the face. One starlet came out in a stunning gown that was nearly backless. This showed a) courage in the face of near-freezing temperatures, and b) a back that was heavily freckled when compared with a face that had been made up to a porcelain-quality glaze. I have nothing against freckles, but my dominant thought was, "facade."

That marked the end of my twenty-something lust for Hollywood actresses.

I've never really been an admirer of most Hollywood actors, either. Let's face it, when the Golden Age of Hollywood ended, we lost most of the best talent that this town ever offered. I was born too late to enjoy most of them except through TV reruns, and I've always somewhat resented that. That said, it's rare when I come across an actor who has qualities that I actually appreciate.

One such actor is Mel Gibson. First, though, the caveat. Much of what Mel has done in Hollywood I would never watch, even with powerful tranquilizers. However, the work he's done that I have watched, I generally enjoy. His performance in "Signs," for example, was fine work. Similarly, I thoroughly enjoyed his Hamlet, even though it took me nearly half the movie to get into the Elizabethan language.

Most of what I admire about Mel, however, is his personal integrity. He knows (and freely admits) that he's probably not the greatest actor in the world, and many of his movies are of questionable quality and taste. But he also has become a powerful voice for standing up for one's convictions in a world where such stances are becoming increasingly anachronistic.

He recently came out in opposition to California's Proposition 71 which would clear the way for embryonic stem cell research. He based his opposition largely on his Catholic beliefs, citing "unethical" research methods. He's calling Arnold to task for supporting it, and is patiently waiting for a call from the Governator to discuss the issue. Any man who would make a movie about the Savior, flying in the face of convention, and then backs up his beliefs regarding such a controversial issue deserves (and has received) my respect.

Which brings me to Kennedy. (See? Told you this would sound disjointed. Sit tight.)

Yesterday, Caroline Kennedy Schlossenguggenheimer, or whatever her married name is, took Bush to task for "invoking her father's name" in his campaigning. Which meant, of course, that John F. Wannabeakennedysomuchitreallyhurts Kerry is more than free to do so.


Kerry used his idol's worst possible political fiasco to compare to Bush in a stretch that Las Vegas would never have put odds against. Even Jimmy the Greek would never have touched it. Well, maybe the Greek would have. One never knew with Jimmy.

Still, the idea that Bush's performance in Iraq in any way compares to Kennedy's fiasco with the Bay of Pigs is ludicrous, at best. Cap'n Ed has the goods here.

The point is that Kerry is guided by a religion that is, in his mind, far more powerful than the Catholic one he professes to follow. This is the religion of politics, and it has become Kerry's god. It is the golden idol that he worships, at the expense of all other considerations. It represents, I think, the ultimate insult to religious worship to stand in a church - any church - on a Sunday when our thoughts should be turned to the Savior, to hear instead the political rantings of a neotheistic man who wishes we would ignore the Good News long enough to get him elected.

In the religion of politics, one always uses history taken out of context to define an opponent's behavior. In Kerry's heart, the idea that the Bay of Pigs was a complete disaster, while the war in Iraq has largely succeeded in its goals is meaningless. It is fodder, to be used as he sees fit. If denigrating what the troops have fought hard to achieve will get him elected, then so be it. He can always apologize later, and tell them he really had their best interests at heart.

An actor who is not afraid to vote his religious beliefs, and the politician who wishes his religion would shut up about his political "ethics." Which one should I agree with?

Come to think of it, I once voted for an actor who followed his religious convictions. I'm still glad I did.

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