September 26th, 2011 -- As Arnie Would Say...
…I am so sick and tired of this and I wish these people would just go away.
For years, we have teased Arnie over his catch phrases when he gets so frustrated with certain people or behaviors that he finds himself at such a loss for words that he just wishes people would disappear since he has grown so exhausted with their behavior. Now I find myself in that very same boat.
It’s not a new frustration, just the opposite. That’s why I am at a loss as to what more to say other than to ask these people to expunge themselves from the earth. This has been going on for years, and it has been growing in popularity, acceptance, and frequency, and it needs to just stop.
Now, before my big “reveal,” I should point out that I am all for free speech. Christ, I make my living on the back of the first amendment. I am also all for people being informed, involved and opinionated. Here’s the problem; celebrities have power and there is, in my opinion, a responsibility that inherently comes with that power to wield your influence not only just wisely, but in the way that your fans want you to.
For example, the easiest way for a rock band to clear out a concert arena is to announce that they’re going to perform their biggest hit acoustically. Why? Because we all paid good money to hear them perform the song in the exact way we fell in love with it on the album, not in a new way that they have devised as a result of playing the same song, the same way, over and over again, night after night. Tough titties; we made you rich with that hit, now have the decency to sing it the way we want it sung, ya bastards.
Similarly, the overwhelming majority of Americans, in every poll taken on this subject, want their singers to sing, their actors to act and their athletes to play. When the American people want political expression or opinion, they tune to talk radio, cable news and the internet. The last thing want is to hear Lady Gaga’s opinion on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or Kim Kardashian’s thoughts on Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.http://www.sacredheart.edu/pages/27865_who_cares_americans_ask_in_new_national_poll_on_celebrity_political_views.cfm
In fact, a few studies following the 2004 presidential election showed that celebrities freely speaking their mind on their choice for president played a small, yet pivotal role in John Kerry losing. While impossible to quantify, many Americans reported staying home as a result of being turned off by the abundance of celebrities who felt the need to inject their opinion into their comedy shows, concerts or interviews. If the majority of Americans who chose not to vote were Kerry supporters, it’s very possible the election would have had a different outcome.
And yet, they continue to talk.
Recently, Tony Bennett was doing a satellite radio interview in which he decided it would be really neat to express his opinion that 9/11 was caused by America; that we deserved it, that we, are in fact the terrorists:
“But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Bennett said. “They flew the plane in, but we caused it,” Bennett responded. “Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”
Two days later, he apologized, but that was a bullshit apology to say the least. He said he was sorry because he felt the backlash of people appalled at his comments, not because he truly didn’t mean what he said. Tony Bennett is one of my all time favorite performers in the world, whom my wife and I have seen in concert four times since 9/11, but not since 2006, when I had finally had enough of political statements interrupting my expensive night out. Every time he was getting ready to sing “If I Ruled the World,” Tony would give a speech how if he ruled the world there would be no war because it’s for cowards. The first time I heard this lecture, In Seattle in early 2002, I let out a quiet “Of for Christ’s sake,” which only my wife heard. In March of 2006, the fourth time I heard a version of this speech I yelled out “Shut up and sing,” and got booed rather loudly. Later, I was told by a guy in front of me that people booed because I was disrespectful to a legend, not because I was wrong. I asked the man who the cowards were now and he just started at me blankly as my wife informed me I was being placed on restriction from any further Tony Bennett concerts.
Another singer, named Toby Keith, who is a country music star (and not much of one if you ask me), along with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently embarrassed themselves by publicly claiming that paying high taxes was, and I quote “patriotic.”
You’ll notice that both of these morons tow the official line by referring to “the wealthy,” yet they never mention that the current proposal calls for families making $250,000 per year to fall under the heading of the wealthy. While you may still feel that such people should pay punitive taxes, it is disingenuous of a billionaire like Cuban and a hack singer worth over $100 million like Keith to try to lump themselves in the same category as a deputy sheriff married to a gynecologist living in California, New York or Florida.
This is of course nonsense to the nth degree. For starters, it belies our own history. The very reason we declared our independence was rooted in not just illegal, but oppressive taxation.
Secondly, I always find it amusing to hear super wealthy people claim how willing they are (now that they have more money than God himself) to pay high taxes, yet never heard a word from them when they were struggling to get to the top. How would Cuban have become a billionaire if he would have been paying a 50% tax rate when he was starting out as a bartender, before he started his own company, on a shoestring, called microsolutions? He later sold that company for $6 million and was off to the races, but under Cuban’s current brilliance, he would punished for being an upper-middle-class bartender and prevented from ever making enough money to invest more and further not only his own ambitions, but thousands of others by taking a risk and creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Most disturbing, of course, is the fact that these rich idiots can, at anytime, write checks to the federal government if they feel they aren’t paying their fair share. Do something patriotic, Toby Keith…write a giant check…and while you’re at it, drink something corrosive enough to permanently damage your vocal cords, you hypocrite.
Debating these fools on the merits of their stupidity is asinine. Toby Keith claiming that paying more taxes is what’s needed to “save our country” is so imbecilic that is demands no response, lest he think he deserves to be taken seriously, which is what’s so infuriating. The very fact that these jag-offs even open their mouths and spew such drivel is what bothers most of us the most. Just shut up and sing and design winning basketball teams.
You’ll notice I didn’t even bother to mention Jane Lynch turning the Emmy’s into one big pro-gay-marriage festival last weekend. Thanks for that, hon.
There’s a time and a place for political discourse and opinion, and the time and the place for entertainers whom we expect to help us escape from the realities of life is never. If you want to run for office, then do so and walk the walk. Otherwise, have the decency to enjoy the fantastic life the American people have bestowed upon you and give the people what they want; your silence.