Thursday, August 24, 2006

LaPaglia - a celebrity riff

Anthony LaPaglia calls his hometown, Adelaide, "like a little Bronx, but with Australian accents".
I don't think anyone has ever described the city thus - or even thought of it. Certainly Adelaide has a strong and well-entrenched Italian community which, from the migration heyday of the 50s, has added substantially to the city's soul, as well as to its cuisine.
And isn't that laudable actor, LaPaglia, an export of whom we can be proud! Unlike Mel Gibson who we now prefer to see as "American-born" and not Australian, despite his Aussie upbringing and NIDA training. As a regligious extremist, Gibson is now an embarrassment. He and that moronic Tom Cruise are the disgraces of Hollywood - ill-informed loudmouths who gain a global platform for their dangerous and warped views because of their wealth and stardom.

I have always been of the opinion that actors are actors. They act because they have more substance as other people than as themselves. Their skill is in expressing what other people have thought and written. When interviewing actors, it is often necessary to "feed" them worthwhile things to say, since most actors are not profoundly well-informed outside of their metier. Yet the the media insists on trying to pump newsworthy things from their mouths - because their popularity attracts reader interest. Making them inherently interesting is another matter.

This is where gossip has become an industry.
It breaks my heart to see the massive output and the lucrative turnover which assuages the apppetite of this market. The vapid for the vacuous.
Are the starlets too fat or too thin? Do we like their taste in clothes? Do we like the company they keep? We care. We care!

This obsession with the minutiae of celebrity has spawned a new population of paparazzi - desperate freelance photographers everyone loves to hate. Theirs is a perilous existence in a shallow and fickle world. I know the adrenalin which drives their chase. Poor bastards.

Paparazzi are not a new phenomenon. Back in 1970 I chummed up with a Rome-based gossip-chaser whose primary purpose was to come up with the goods on Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Those were still the days when movie stars were stars.

Now the star system has been replaced by the celebrity circuit. Talent is not in the formula. One only has to look at the absurd phenomenon of Paris Hilton or hear the grotesque vocal contortions of Jessica Simpson to have this rammed home. And who among us does not know who those dreary glamour girls are? We can't name Grigori Perelman, the Russian mathematician who has just contributed the most important piece of abstract thought since Einstein, but we can quote the trite comments of Paris Hilton who has just told us that she can't believe how good she is.

One wonders if people will tire of the celebrity saturation. Will they wise up? Will they get interested in people or issues of more substance? Or will the cynical media moguls just go on manufacturing new celebrities to sustain the vast profits generated by tinymind turnover?

We know the answer.
Oh, well, I am still proud of Anthony LaPaglia. A fine actor, a great Australian and a proper, old-fashioned movie star.

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