Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Burning Question: Did the Year of Charlie Sheen Teach Celebrities Nothing?

Lately I find myself wishing upon a star that we could return to the good old days of the silent-film era when they (those shining stars) were seen and not heard (or read) quite so much. Not because I thought The Artist was such a great movie (although it was), but for their own good. Think of how much worse George Valentin would have had it if the world had been able to hear him. Would his portrayer, Jean Dujardin, have won the Best Actor Oscar over George Clooney and Brad Pitt if we could have heard him speaking his mind?

It seems every day another star is opening his or her mouth and inserting a foot. Melissa Reeves has pretty much ruined my Days of Our Lives viewing experience with her recent tweet in support of Chick-fil-A's freedom of speech (and by extension, its homophobic stance). Watching the August 13 episode of Days -- its first airing since the soap's two-week Olympics hiatus -- I should have been heartbroken watching Reeves' character Jennifer standing outside an elevator with her husband Jack and daughter Abigail trapped inside as a frayed cable threatened to send it plummeting to the ground floor.

But my mind kept wandering to her Twitter transgression. "Was that dry, salty Chick-fil-A sandwich worth it?" I found myself asking the woman onscreen, when I should have been praying right along with sweet, desperate Jen.

Less than two weeks ago, Elton John exercised his own freedom of speech -- again -- by slamming Madonna, again. In an August 5 Australian TV interview, Sir Elton took Her Madgesty to task for being "so horrible" to Lady Gaga:

"Why is she such a nightmare? Her career is over, I can tell you that. Her tour has been a disaster and it couldn't happen to a bigger bitch....

"If Madonna had any common sense, she would have made a record like Ray of Light, stayed away from the dance stuff, and just been a great pop singer and made great pop records, which she does brilliantly. But no, she had to prove that she was like… And she looks like a fucking fairground stripper." 

I love Elton John to pieces, but he really needs to get his genres straight. Ray of Light was considered the epitome of a modern dance album when it was released in 1998. In fact, two of Madonna's most critically and commercially successful albums of the last 20 years -- Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dance Floor -- were both dance albums. Furthermore, nowadays there's no real distinction between dance and pop and even rap. Just ask Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida.

Coming from the guy who commissioned Australian electronica duo Pnau to reinvent his back catalog (and scored the No. 1 UK album, Good Morning to the Night, credited to Elton John vs Pnau, for their effort), it seems disingenuous of Elton to criticize Madonna for her transgressions on a dance floor. As for the state of Madonna's career, is it really in worse shape than Elton's? Both of them are icons who will be stars until they die. They'll never be over. Methinks it's time for Elton to lay off Madonna.

Meanwhile, perhaps George Michael should lay off Twitter. What happened to the days when celebrities didn't read their own press? God knows, terrible things have been written about Michael over the years. So I'm not sure why he's getting so defensive now over the poor reviews for his performance of his latest single, "White Light," at the Olympics closing ceremony. It wasn't so much the song itself that many took issue with -- though its reviews haven't been glowing -- but its irrelevance to the closing ceremony, which is supposed to be about celebration (or something along those lines), not his own mortality and his bid for a hit song.

I suspect that the song -- and the Olympics performance of it -- would have been better received if he'd left the electronica beat out of it. (Unlike Elton, I have nothing against pop stars doing dance music, but electronica does few favors for the ones who are known for actually singing.) Whatever. Bad reviews is part of pop life -- Michael should know that by now. Perhaps because "White Light" was inspired by something so personal, Michael is being more sensitive than usual.

According to what I just read in The Hollywood Reporter, Michael sent not one but three tweets on August 14 challenging his critics and pandering to his followers:

1)  "Morning everyone! Had a GREAT time at the closing! I hope you are not bothered by the press reports of my scandalous 'promotion' !!!"

2)  "Please join me in telling them to f--- off ! It was my one chance on tv to thank you all for your loyalty and prayers, and I took it. X"

3)  "And I don't regret it. Xxxx"

At least he refrained from cursing (if not spelling out "fuck" qualifies as that), but maybe he needs to take a cue from his fellow blowhard and former BFF/feuding partner and lay off twitter completely. "It would end my career," Elton recently said, explaining why he's resisting the urge to tweet. "I'd be in prison after about two days. I mean, no, God almighty. Me and my big mouth, no thank you. That would be the end of the career."

And the world -- especially Madonna -- breathes a collective sigh of relief.

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