Jewish World Review July 23, 2004/ 5 Menachem-Av, 5764

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

Cry Babies | Well, the cry babies are out in full force. At a John Kerry fund-raiser, Whoopi Goldberg stood on a public stage at Radio City Music Hall in front of the entire world, opened her foul-mouth and spewed her hate toward President Bush using the sort of vulgarity one would only expect to see scrawled on restroom walls.

Because of that, SlimFast, the diet food company that has been paying her tons of money, dropped her as their spokesperson. She cried "Censorship!" But wait a minute. No one censored her. She said exactly what she wanted to say and she said it exactly how she wanted to say it. SlimFast has every right to make a business decision not to use Goldberg anymore if they feel she may be alienating customers of their product. Why is this hard to understand?

Where in the Constitution does it say that a company MUST pay a celebrity millions of dollars even though that celebrity chases business away with her offensive comments?

In a quote Whoopi said, "America's heart and soul is freedom of expression without fear of reprisal." She went on to say, "The fact that I am no longer the spokesman for SlimFast makes me sad, but not as sad as someone trying to punish me for exercising my right as an American to speak my mind." What a crock!

What so many celebrities don't seem to get, is that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. What you REALLY want, Whoop, is the freedom to say whatever you damn well please and everybody had better like it or it's too bad. Well, guess what? The world don't work that way, kiddo. We all have to take responsibilities for our words and our actions. Go ahead - say whatever you want, but I have a right not to pay money to see you perform, see?

And a company has a right not to hire you to endorse their products, get it?

GEEZE! This is really not that tough a concept, y'know?

At a performance at the Aladdin hotel in Las Vegas, Linda Ronstadt was booed by the audience when she called left-wing propagandist Michael Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is spreading the truth." She went on to encourage everyone to go out and see Moore's Bush-bashing film. Ronstadt's comments not only drew loud boos, some of the 4,500 audience members stormed out of the theater. People torn down concert posters and tossed their drinks into the air. "It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin President Bill Timmins told the Associated Press.

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Timmins, who saw the events unfold, decided Ronstadt had to go. He refused to let her back in her luxury suite and she was escorted off the property. "She spoiled a wonderful evening for our guests and we had to do something about it," Timmins said. "As long as I'm here she's not going to play." Censorship of free speech or sound business decision? I have a feeling most in the audience that night came to hear her sing, not conduct a political rally, but she couldn't just sing, oh, no, - she thinks the whole world cares what her politics are. I guess they didn't. Well, now she can go find another venue if she wants to play Vegas. That's life in the big city.

Just what is with these narcissistic, self-absorbed, air headed celebs that they just can't keep their political opinions to themselves? Spouting off is a dumb thing to do on so many levels. First of all, they automatically alienate half of all their available audience. Now, that can't be the most brilliant career move in the world. I mean, as a performer you want to have the largest fan base possible, don't you?

Second, I don't believe most people give a rip what the political views of performers happen to be. As a matter of fact, I'd rather not know. The same goes for their sex lives - don't tell me, I don't want to know! It's none of my business how an actor votes, who he or she sleeps with, or what they think about when they're not entertaining me. The more I know about an actor personally, the less easy it is to buy that actor in a role.

There were certain entertainers that I enjoyed before they opened their stupid mouths and ruined everything. When I watch a movie I want to be able to get into the picture and the characters on the screen. To do that, it is important to be able to forget who the actor is in real life. It's really hard to forget the nasty, vicious things an outspoken performer says on the TV news shows and accept them as a character in a movie.

The studios knew this in the "good old days," that's why it was so important for an actor to develop a "screen persona" that was likable (or lovable) to an audience. Once established, that persona would in fact be who that actor was for evermore, at least as far as the public was concerned. They called it an "image" and the studios worked hard to protect it.

One reason why it is so enjoyable to watch the older pictures for me is because I don't know all that much about the "real" people behind the star image - and I want to keep it that way. Why do I need to know whether William Powell was liberal or conservative? Or whether Fred Astaire voted for Kennedy or Nixon? Or what the sexual proclivity of Hattie McDaniel happened to be? Why do today's celebrities ache to tell it all? For what reason?

The left-wing stars can't help Bush-bashing - they fall over each other to get their hateful licks in, and it will get even more vitriolic as Election Day draws closer. They can mouth off all they want - no one is taking away their right to free speech. No one is censoring them. No one is holding them back. In America you can pretty much say what you want without getting arrested or thrown in jail or killed, as is the case in Cuba, China, and the Middle East.

But speaking one's mind is a freedom that comes with a certain level of personal responsibility. Part of being an adult is accepting that responsibility and willing to take the heat if one's words are controversial or divisive. In other words, if you lash out and you get smacked right back - don't be a cry baby.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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