Jewish World Review April 21, 2003 / 19 Nisan, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Stars in search of a galaxy | One of the gratifying developments of President George W. Bush's World Crisis is the intellectual transformation of Hollywood, Calif. No longer is it merely a preserve of slob producers and air-head actors hustling for the philistines' bucks. It is the intellectual jewel of the Western World.

Just when all the world's intelligentsia had given up hope that there would ever again be a Periclean Athens, a Sartrean Paris, or a Greenwich Village, there emerges in a yeasty froth of intellectual vitality, Hollywood. Producers, directors, writers, drug therapists, and actors abound with ideas and philosophical principles that you can really sink your teeth into. OK, so they do not write books. In fact many do not even have books or teeth - at least their natural teeth.

Yet, like Aristotle in his Lyceum or Sartre in his cups, they are voluble with interesting observations and syllogisms that challenge the musty dogmas of conventional minds and even discomfit some of the troubled teenagers who turn out for their films.

Of all the gifted Hollywood philosophes, probably the greatest are the actors. I am not talking about those who have recently been arrested for shoplifting or for holding overnights with little boys. Those are the Hollywood ethicists, and their area of intellectual activity is too narrow for the general audience of this paper. Their knowledge is of the recondite sort that is best put on display at the Harvard Law School, as Ms. Joyce Brown once did. Ms. Brown, you will recall, was the Manhattan bag lady invited to lecture at the Harvard Law School in the 1980s between stints in various New York state institutions. No, the Hollywood intellectuals I have in mind are the actors who speak so eloquently to Mr. Bush's World Crisis.

George Clooney comes to mind. Known by friends in his intellectual set as Looney Clooney he actually does read books, and newspapers, and Victoria's Secret Catalogues. I have been told he has collected every Victoria's Secret Catalogue since the firm's austere founding. Of Mr. Bush's war he has said in contravention of the received wisdom, "You can't beat your enemy anymore through wars." Speaking directly to the president and in defiance of any Republican "knock in the night," he speculated, "I believe he [Bush] thinks this is a war that can be won ... there is no such thing anymore." Mr. Clooney's alternative to old-fashioned war would be a class-action lawsuit or possibly a spelling bee. Perhaps when Victoria's Secret opens its Middle Eastern chain of see-through burkha boutiques, Mr. Clooney will serve as spokesperson.

Of course the Hollywoodian of the hour is the very intellectual Tim Robbins, star of such masterpieces as "The Player" and "Bob Roberts." He too has postulated ideas on peace and war's quaintness. To him the United States Marine Corps had best be replaced by the Rockettes. Yet Mr. Robbins' cerebrations on conflict are even more complicated than Looney Clooney's. After reading a newspaper column by the Washington controversialist Lloyd Grove, Mr. Robbins, ever the philosopher, accosted Mr. Grove at a post-Academy Awards party with the query, "If you ever write about my family again, I will [bleeping] find you, and I will [bleeping] hurt you." Mr. Robbins probably meant that in the existential sense, though during the late war he left unremarked the political praxis of President Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Robbins was a recent lecturer at the National Press Club, occasioning me to telephone Mr. Grove and ask him about his tete-a-tete with the intellectual Mr. Robbins out in Hollywood. "I think he's a terrific actor," Mr. Grove replied. And he went on to add that both he and his girlfriend believed the great actor was "just acting" when he threatened Mr. Grove. Now that raises an interesting point. When are these renowned Hollywood minds not acting? Do they just pad through the world pretending?

At the National Press Club the man whom Mr. Grove calls a "terrific actor" raised a finger dramatically skyward and exhorted his audience to "defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security." Apparently Mr. Robbins was frightened because the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame canceled an invitation to him, owing to his hysterical views on our Three Week War. Said Mr. Robbins, the controversy was about "my right to express those views." And "I am extremely grateful that there are those of you out there still with a fierce belief in constitutionally guaranteed rights." Then he called Mr. Grove, the columnist, a "sadistic creep."

Now is this just an act? The actor's "constitutionally guaranteed right" places no obligation on the Baseball Hall of Fame to endure him. And where was this First Amendment advocate when Hollywood's hero president, Bill Clinton, was hounding journalists with Grand Jury investigations, threats to their bosses, and IRS investigations of his former victims, Paula Corbin Jones and Kathleen Willey?

Yes, maybe these Hollywoodians are not as intellectual as I had thought. Maybe they are just poseurs, though if ever a chain of men's underwear shops is opened for "sadistic creeps," I think Tim Robbins would make an inviting poster boy.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate