Quentin Crisp said it best: "There is no dark man!"
I had a dream last night, I was reading one of those Gothic romance novels - the kind you used to call a "bodice-ripper" before that was considered date rape. It went something like this:
"Oh, Rex, take me away from my evil stepfather, on your mighty steed, so that we may live together forever in happiness!" she cried, burying her face in his muscular chest.
"Surely, Stormy - take my hand, and we shall both be free!" he replied, gently caressing her head and lightly kissing her face. "But there is one thing I need to tell you, first!"
"What is that?"
"Well, I live with my Mother and have a cat named Mittens. You're not allergic to cats, are you?"
It is human nature, I'm afraid, that we are all human. If you go to a leather bar, you might see some guy who looks like a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom of Finland, and half the Village People. He's nearly seven feet tall, a wall of muscle, and handsome. Surely this is the man of your dreams, right? Then he opens his mouth and in the most mincing voice imaginable, reveals he is an interior decorator named Bruce - and yes, with a cat named Mittens. Do you want to go home with him and meet Mittens?
I wrote about this effect before - we all want to project our fantasies and desires onto others. And nowhere is this more true that with celebrities. And in recent years, celebrities have let us down by turning out to be mere mortals with mortal failings. In fact, they tend to turn out to be first-class jerks.
I was listening to 80's music on YouTube and they played an old Joe Jackson song. I remember hearing that on the radio all the time back in the day (when people actually listened to the radio). Come to think of it, one of the lines in the song was "We'll leave the TV and radio behind" - and I guess our generation did - replacing it with streaming services. But I digress.
I was curious as to what happened to old Joe Jackson - was he a one-hit wonder? Well, I looked him up and was bitterly disappointed. He has written a bit, but his writing kind of sucks. And his big, big deal since the 1980's? Speaking out against smoking bans. He decided to die on that hill, (as did Penn & Teller) claiming that the "Nanny State" was going too far and there was no evidence that secondhand smoke (or apparently, firsthand) was bad for you.
The problem with taking stands like this, is sometimes you end up on the wrong side of history. Smoking would still suck, even if it had health benefits. It smells bad and is a fire hazard - so many people die in bed from smoking. In fact, the whole urban legend about "spontaneous human combustion" died out when smoking died out - it was, after all, just people who were dead drunk, falling asleep in bed or an easy chair, dropping a cigarette, which caused the upholstery to smolder. With fewer people smoking, there are fewer such fires. That, and most modern furniture is made with fire-resistant stuffing, instead of smoldering cotton batting.
But the main deal is, a minority of people don't have the "right" to blow tear gas in your face, or throw stink bombs in restaurants, which, in effect, smokers were doing for a century or more. The "rights" of smokers trample on the "rights" of everyone else. And trust me, living on Old People Island and seeing friends die of COPD, it isn't pretty. Imagine being smothered with a pillow, slowly, over a number of years. It is a horrible way to die.
But that is what Joe Jackson will be famous for. You know, he might have been better off keeping his mouth shut and he would have been remembered for his music!
Yea, yea, I know, "everyone has the right to their opinions!" and that is true. But being a celebrity amplifies your opinions, and being a celebrity doesn't make you right about anything. People are sick and tired of political Oscar speeches, or celebrities using their celebrity to advance a "cause" like a First Lady or Miss America contestant. Just shut the fuck up and cash those fat paychecks - right? Because the fact you were born attractive (or made that way under a knife) and have a good Agent, doesn't mean the thoughts going through your empty skull are in any way significant. Hollywood hired you for your looks, not your brains.
OK, maybe Meryl Streep excepted.
But we see this a lot today - people who had successful careers who then, later in life, show us exactly what kind of shitheads they were and are. And again, I get this - they are human after all and not Gods. So when they fall from their pedestal, well, we should not be surprised.
And maybe part of the problem is that once you become so successful and have an entourage, you start to think you really are so clever. Gyneth Paltrow apparently thinks she owns the ski slopes and is an expert on quack cures for diseases you don't have. Again, sort of spoils the mood, don't it?
There are others - a litany of others - such as JK Rowling, who, after cracking open a box of wine, gets tipsy and goes on Twitter to say mean things about "Trans" people. And by that, I don't mean having a meaningful discussion of whether it is fair for a trans athlete to play on a girls team, or whether government or insurance money should be forced to pay for expensive operations or whether children should have hormone treatments. No, no, rather she has to try to troll trans people and say horrible things. It is not just a matter of her "expressing her opinions" but rather showing us her real character.
And like clockwork, when these sorts of people show us what rotten sons-of-bitches they are, they complain they are being "cancelled" for their opinions, when in fact they are being cancelled for being shitheads.
There are exceptions to this trend. Keanu Reeves, by all accounts, is a nice guy and a decent human being, even if the movies he stars in (such as the John Wick franchise) are rather over-the-top violent. But he doesn't have a "Controversies" section on his Wikipedia page, and when asked about religious beliefs, he gives oblique answers - allowing us to project onto him what we want to see. The only "political" position I could find he supported was reading a poem at a "Free Tibet" event, which earned him the ire of China, which banned his films. Oh, well, even he steps in the dogshit once in a while - China is a huge market for Hollywood films, although I guess the Chinese can stream him through Starlink or something.
Once in a great while, you read about a celebrity who fades off into obscurity without bursting our bubbles. You really wanted to root for Clint Eastwood or Charlton Heston, but they both sort of lost their minds toward the end, and became gun nuts. Worse yet are the washed-up stars who shill for utter scams like second mortgage companies or burial insurance. I mean, what a way to screw your own fans!
Even getting married is problematic for some celebrities. Teen heartthrobs in particular, are often forced to conceal their marriages or relationships - or at least downplay them - as their teenybopper followers want to project their romantic fantasies on these icons. And no one wants to know the name of their cat, either.
Just a hint: If you become a celebrity someday, keep your opinions to yourself and appear as neutral as possible, so people can project onto you what they want to see, and not who you actually are. If you do this, you can keep your celebrity going on for a good long time. And you won't end up hawking burial insurance at 2AM on some off-beat cable channel.