Bob Franken




Pardon my sharing a personal preference, but I don’t give a rat’s patootie about the opinions of some showbiz notables because, notwithstanding their star power, they usually don’t really know what they’re talking about. I also hate to interview other journalists, often for the same reason.
Once, I was covering a political story and a prominent actress who happened to be nearby decided that she would love to express her opinion, ON TV, and expected me to jump at the chance because she was a celeb. So she sent some lackey over to request that I put her on right away. When I politely declined, he, in effect, escalated that to a demand. I still refused, admittedly a little less politely, and he called somebody he knew at CNN, where I was working at the time, who leaned on the newscast producer to order me to just do the blankety-blank interview. Even less politely, I still said no. I believe the producer solved the dilemma by having the anchor person do it. He did; I didn’t; and after the actress contributed nothing whatsoever to the story, she glared at me as she flounced off to her next ego trip.
By the same token, I try to avoid covering congressional hearings where the sponsors of some issue recruit an actor or actress to represent their cause as a way to suck in coverage, paying the performer to memorize lines like they’re playing a part.
I hasten to point out that this not universally true. Many entertainment types really do know their subject and dedicate lots of genuine hard work on its behalf; Audrey Hepburn, Danny Glover and Robert Redford come to mind. But many others are just naive news groupies or publicity hounds.

I also should mention — since, by now you’re desperate to know my opinions — that I get bored with award shows: the Academy Awards, Emmys, Grammys, SAGs, you name it. Once you get past the opening monologue, they go downhill really fast, particularly when the winner offers a sanctimonious lecture about a glaring societal shortcoming that he or she has latched on to, because it’s the thing to do.
That’s why I so enjoy Ricky Gervais’ opening monologues at the Golden Globe presentations. Gervais takes no prisoners, and this year drew blood with his lines about those who forget that they’re just pieces of fluff:
Following up a remark about American-owned sweatshops in China, he said: “Well, you say you’re woke but the companies you work for, I mean — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?
“So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
Unfortunately, many of the recipients ignored him, and once they thanked family and the “little people,” they veered into statements about whatever their handlers told them they should be passionate about, or act like it. Quite frankly, their concerns are mostly lefty because that’s what gets applause, and performers are motivated by a frantic need for approval, just like a certain president, who shall remain nameless.
One plausible explanation for right wingers winning so many verbal fights, even when their arguments are so idiotic, is that they honed their debating skills in college, when they were the only conservatives on campus and took on liberals made flabby by their sheer numbers. Plus, reactionaries have no scruples, which takes you a long way. Just ask that same nameless president.
I leave you with the words of Gervais again: “So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent, and your God …” and then he went on to use an obscenity, because that’s what he does.
Putting it a little less crudely: We don’t care what you think.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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