When is it that celebrities and entertainers first get it in their heads that they're breathing a more rarified brand of oxygen than the rest of us No-Name paeons? I really would like to know when that particular gear in their brain kicks in and they start shouting the weary "Don't You Know Who I Am?" Do they experience some sort of cerebral chemistry change where a selective amnesia kicks in and they simply forget that at one time, they were also one of us No Names?
Madonna's adopting babies from Malawi, Angelina's adopting babies from every country, apparently, she seems to set foot in. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm all for giving an orphaned child a home. But you know, if I wanted to adopt a child, I'd have at least a two year wait on a list before I even got a chance to find a child to adopt. Not to mention the reams of paperwork, the endless background checks, psychological reviews, state reviews, and financial assessments. Granted, people like Madonna and Angelina don't have to worry about the money, but apparently they don't have to worry about waiting, either. Want a kid, Madge? Sure! Come over to Orphans R Us and we'll display a bunch of them for your viewing pleasure. Pick one. We don't mind. We'll even give you a discount.
While I state again that I'm a staunch supporter of adoption, I have a couple of questions: What's wrong with American children? Or even British children, seeing as Madonna is now an expat from Yankee country. There are millions of homeless, parentless, hungry children right here in these here United States that need a home and an education. Yet Madge and Ange seem to keep jetting off (their environmental rants notwithstanding, but that's another post) to third - world countries to load up on the latest specials.
My other question is: if you're adopting children to be philanthropic, fine. But why send out press releases about it? And don't tell me you're not. I lived and worked in the questionable army of Celebrityville for years, and I know that NOTHING of the I'm-just-trying-to-help variety is even contemplated before a well-worded announcement has been drafted. So shut up. If you want to be a benefactor, fine. What's the problem with doing it quietly, without accolades, and without ten thousand photographs and headlines being shoved in the rest of the world's collective face about how wonderful you are? That's not charity; that's vanity.
Lest you think that my outrage is directed solely at the Spotlight Adoption Club, here's another example: Wesley Snipes. News is today that he has been indicted for eight counts of tax fraud and faces up to thirty years in prison. Apparently he hadn't paid taxes in about six years and claimed bogus refunds. Cheeky! Maybe he was taking a stand agains the oppressiveness of government and his right to keep the money he worked his hands to the bone to earn.
That last part, in case you were wondering, was sarcasm.
Wesley Snipes makes ginormous millions of dollars for each sorry-ass film he puts out there--as do the myriad other kindred A-Listers in the biz. To be fair, I've worked on film shoots, and they can indeed be grueling, hard, and tedious work. They're not picnics in the park. So in principle, I don't blame entertainers for their resentment about having to give 40% of it back to the IRS--Hell, I don't like it either. I growl every time I get a paycheck or file my 1099's and have to write my own check and send it on its way. But get a grip, people.
I make considerably less money than Snipes. Most of us paeons do. I'd love to just conveniently "decline" to file or pay my taxes. Personally, I'm not at all happy with the way the bigwigs in Washington spend my money, and I sure as shit know that by the time I reach retirement age, the dough I've "contributed" to Social Security is gonna be goooone. But you know what? I pay it. Know why? Because if I don't, the IRS will do the exact same thing to me as what's now happening to Snipes. I'll be indicted and thrown into prison, because I don't have another ten million lying around to write the restitution check and pay for attorney fees. Of course Snipes won't be thrown in jail--he's an Olympian of a minor order, but an Olympian nonetheless.
There was so much bitching in Hollyweird when it was decreed that celebs had to pay taxes on the gift baskets they get at awards shows that it sounded for all the world like a bunch of whining six-year-olds. Those gift baskets are obscene; I've seen them. They can range in value anywhere from five thousand to thirty thousand dollars, packed full of prime booty such as cell phones, diamond earrings, Sidekicks, designer accessories, and high-end gift certificates. Most of us know that when we get a prize or gift of a certain value, we have to pay tax--even the lottery winners. Yet one actor had the gall to actually say that they'd been screwed on the gift basket tax. Look, sister, I wish I had your weekly net, because that alone would pay my annual expenses. You think you've been screwed???
Pile on top of all the above the crazy idiots who get on planes and gripe about their seats, accost hardworking flight attendants and call them names. Then add in for good measure Useless Personalities who drive drunk and never even lose their licenses. Stir in hissy fits when another Useless Personality can't go shopping in an exclusive boutique because they're closed for the day and won't reopen Just for Her. Presto, your Just Desserts have been served.
It's ridiculous. And yet it keeps happening, because people like that keep getting enabled--whether by the authorities, by the fans, or by their handlers. There's often such a blatant exhibition of entitlement from people that it's absolutely mind-boggling. If I had done any of the things in the above paragraph, I'd have been arrested. If' I had accosted a flight attendant, the Air Marshals would have hauled me in for questioning, and my family might not have seen me for a couple of weeks while Homeland Security went on a rampage checking to see if I was some kind of insurgent.
I've met actors--some famous, some not so much--who are actually generous, down-to-earth, approachable people. Those are the ones who haven't forgotten what it was like to be told "No". They're the people who remember scraping by for rent while they studied for their next audition, who went without cable so they could pay for the electric bill. Who can recall their first limousine, first comped hotel room, and First Class ticket with a sense of excitement and glee. They remember they're just lucky, that it could stop at any time, and that they aren't Anointed ones who simply deserve it.
Rant over. I'm now off to read People magazine.
By the Way: Happy Birthday, John Mayer!!