Mark Walberg is that rare actor who knows his place.
In an interview with Task & Purpose magazine after the historic 2016 Election, he criticized his fellow actors for speaking out on politics as if they are uniquely qualified and their political opinions are important. He said:
“A lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn’t. You know, it just goes to show you that people aren’t listening to that anyway. They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”
That got me thinking about why we regard actors as “celebrities”.
The dictionary defines “celebrity” as:
One who is widely known and of great popular interest.
- Fame or popular renown.
Definitions #1 and #2 both pertain to fame, i.e., of being widely known, but definition #2 also includes “popular renown”. The word “renown” means not just fame, but having a widespread reputation of a good kind; being acclaimed or well-regarded.
Therein lies the problem. Actors, many of whom are highly narcissistic, confuse “fame” — being widely known — with “renown”. And so, in their preening narcissism, they imagine themselves to be special people whose opinions, no matter how uneducated or uninformed, merit the public’s special attention and consideration.
In fact, as Wikipedia explains, traditionally, actors were held in low regard and had low status in society. In the Early Middle Ages, actors were often viewed with distrust as immoral, pagan, and dangerous.
All that began to change in 1660 with the performance of Restoration comedies in England, which were notorious for their sexual explicitness. This period saw the introduction of the first professional actresses, and the rise of the first celebrity actors. By the 19th century, the negative reputation of actors was largely reversed, and acting became an honored, popular profession and art. That trend greatly accelerated with the introduction of the first motion picture in 1895 and the subsequent rise of Hollywood in the early 20th century, which transformed and continues to make actors into “stars” and “matinee idols”.
The plain fact is that actors are simply people who make a living by portraying a character in a performance, whether in a theater, film, radio or television. In others words, actors are people who are paid to lie — to pretend they are somebody who they are not. That does not make them specially intelligent or specially knowledgeable on anything beyond acting.
But it must be said that actors who imagine their opinions are important, do so with our complicity.
A recent example is the public’s purchase of Cameron Diaz‘s undoubtedly ghost-written book, The Body Book, in which the actress, too stupid to distinguish her vagina — a sex organ inside a woman’s body — from her pubic mound or mons veneris, advises her female readers to leave their vaginas in their natural hairy state. (See “Stupid Hollyweirdo: Cameron Diaz has a hairy vagina“)
Even worse is when Congress brown-nose “celebrities” by inviting them to testify.
As an example, in 1989, on the basis of her having played a farmer in a movie and despite her lack of any scientific credentials, Meryl Streep was invited to testify before a Senate Labor and Human Resources subcommittee against the alleged carcinogen Alar — a chemical sprayed on Washington red apples to keep them red and firm for storage.
Within weeks of Streep testifying before Congress, Uniroyal, the company that manufactured Alar, withdrew the chemical from the U.S. market, followed by the EPA ordering a ban on the chemical’s sale, distribution and use.
While Alar has been verified as a human carcinogen, lab tests found that for it to be dangerous to human health, one would have to ingest an amount that is the equivalent of drinking over 5,000 gallons of apple juice per day. But by then, the Alar scare had cost Washington apple growers $100 million in lost sales.
You should read actor Jason Isaccs’ vicious tweets after Hillary Clinton, whom he supports, lost the election. Here’s an example: