Undecided on major issues? Ask celebs
Did anyone doubt that Gov. Andrew Cuomo would win the prize for the first and toughest gun law in the nation enacted after Newtown and before Obama-Biden could act? The presidential campaign ad almost writes itself, doesn’t it? But at what cost: No hearings, instead a so-called “message of necessity” from the governor doing away with the three-day waiting period when the public and lawmakers might have had a chance to at least read the thing.
Hey, who cares about the public and state legislators? The real problem is celebrities and entertainment types like Jamie Foxx (the second “x” is silent) had no time to weigh in. And these days it’s celebs’ opinions that really count, right? In the case of Foxx (I dunno, maybe it’s the first “x” that is silent), his thoughts on gun violence were contained in a TV spot that he and other Hollywood types had done right after Newtown (right about the time his violent hit movie “Django Unchained” was coming out).
Still, it would be nice if these entertainment folks were afforded a chance to enrich all of us with their views on the big issues of the day, as was the case last week when Yoko Ono and her semi-famous son, Sean Lennon (no, he’s not the son who sued over his father’s estate), rolled into Albany to tell us they oppose upstate natural gas drilling. Big surprise, huh?
What if Cuomo had jumped the gun and approved “fracking” several months ago — before hearing from Yoko Ono — based on that kept-secret report from the state Health Department saying the process was safe? It makes not a bit of difference whether or not she broke up the Beatles (I have no personal knowledge whatsoever): Ono has a right, as a citizen of New York, but more importantly as the widow of a major entertainment star, to guide us on the fracking issue.
Declaring that “fracking kills,” she said she was delivering more than 200,000 signatures to the Department of Environmental Conservation urging a thumbs-down from the DEC, which is expected to rule next month. Ono said that she and her husband, John Lennon, purchased a farm in the Catskills many years ago, so she is a stakeholder. She did not say how friendly she is with any of her neighbors, who presumably do not have huge fortunes or large homes on Manhattan’s Upper West Side..
Ono is just one of a number of celebs willing to benefit us with their expert opinions on fracking. Stars like Robert Redford and Lady Gaga are advising folks in upstate towns and villages that long ago saw their best days to shun the lure of the natural gas “Music Men.” Matt Damon feels so strongly that he produced and stars in an anti-fracking flick called “Promised Land” that has them staying away in droves. Redford did radio spots warning that the natural gas will not be consumed here, but rather in France because that nation has
banned the process; have we not repaid our Lafayette debt by now?
Critics, of course, question why anyone 21 years of age or older would pay any attention to entertainment biggies who seem to travel in Citation X private jets and carbon-belching SUVs, and what sort of special knowledge or insight do they possess anyway?
Well, I recall several years ago when Larry King (he was only about 89 at the time) posed that very question to actress Susan Sarandon on his nightly TV show. Sarandon was expounding on some controversial topic, maybe one of the wars, when King, not known for throwing hardballs, asked Sarandon why the public (meaning us unwashed types) should pay any special attention to what entertainment stars have to say.
Sarandon replied — and she seemed serious, not even a little bit embarrassed — that stars like her often have access to information that the average citizen does not. As she said that, I kept watching her expression; maybe she’s gonna smile, like that was a joke, only kidding, but no, she was serious.
So think about it. Maybe when you see the Golden Globes or some other star-studded gathering and they’re all standing around in little groups, they’re probably asking one another, “Hey, what’s the latest on fracking?” or “Get any special skinny on the Afghanistan withdrawal?” or “Have any of you guys figured out what the hey Jodie Foster was talking about up there?”
Of course, not all celebs are ready to assume this special duty of informing their fellow citizens on complex questions. I, for one, do not need Honey Boo Boo telling us about tax policy. Maybe even less so for Justin Bieber. The “Biebs” recently appeared on a late night show where he referred to the Vatican chapel where Michaelangelo painted in all the numbers as the “Sixteenth Chapel.” Tell him to call Susan Sarandon or Yoko Ono.