Thanksgiving is the traditional time for appreciating our country and its bountiful harvest of everything special, from family and friends to plasma TV’s and stainless steel fridges. This year something else requires special recognition. Please hold hands around the holiday table and join me in giving thanks for our country’s blessed collection of celebrity opinion.
THE 2003 THANKSGIVING holiday collides with the heated 2004 campaign season. That gives us a chance to appreciate all the political advice celebrities gave us all year — particularly on America’s two biggest industries today, war and sex.
Let’s pass the gravy and review the year’s bumper crop of celebrity thought. First, war.
Sheryl Crow said in January: “I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”
Good advice. Maybe that’s why the Pilgrims got along so well with the Indians — both feared karmic retributions. And turkey leftovers.
Sean Combs was similarly struck by the peace bug. He puffed up and said, “I’m totally against war — whoever’s wrong. …I think of peace every day. I want us to all get along. It may sound corny … but I’m strictly peace.” During Thanksgiving, I’m strictly peace, too — strictly piece of pie. Pumpkin only, please.
OK, enough tomfoolery. Let’s take celebrities serious because they take themselves serious. As America faced great issues of war and peace this year, celebrities got very, very earnest. And they can be sooooo cute when they’re earnest.
Like cutie pie Madonna who said, “I am not anti-Bush. I am not pro-Iraq. I am pro-peace.” And equally adorable Harrison Ford, who called for “regime change on both sides.” Then there’s George Clooney who’s half heartthrob and half peacemaker, like some creature from Greek mythology. Clooney advised, “You can’t beat your enemy anymore through wars. Instead you create an entire generation of people revenge seeking.” That great pretender Chrissie Hynde went further in a San Francisco concert on the eve of the Iraq war: “Bring it on! Give us what we deserve!” That’s always been my Thanksgiving cry for pumpkin pie.
(How much has celebrity thought on American military success evolved over the years? Since it’s Thanksgiving season, consider John Wayne’s thoughts on Native Americans in Playboy years ago: “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”)
Which celebrity gave us the best political advice of the war? Hands down, it was Kid Rock. He said, “We got to kill that mother-[bleeper] Saddam. Slit his throat. Kill him and the guy in North Korea.” Yes, please meet our generation’s Henry Kissinger.
When we weren’t getting celebrity thoughts on war, we heard them talking sex. And lots of it. So let’s give thanks to celebrities who this year reduced politics down to its base level, sex.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman,” you knew this would be a special year. Hilarious, but special. And it helps explain what “Terminator 3” co-star Kristanna Loken meant in the New York Daily News. Asked if she was ever attracted to a politician, Loken replied: “Physically? Hillary Clinton. That was a joke.” Hi-yo!
Proving that there’s always room for J-Lo, Ben Affleck said, “I pay more attention to national politics probably right now than state politics for some reason. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just a sexier political scene.” Ben Affleck thinks national politics is sexy? The man has obviously never met Dennis Kucinich.
Let’s return to George Clooney, who’s ending his outspoken year feeling a tad prosecuted. Why? Because of sex. Sex, sex, sex. Clooney said, “I always say you have to stand by what you’ve done. Yes, I smoked grass. Yes, I had sex with more than one person. In the U.S., they make a big deal out of everything as soon as you run for higher office. It’s time we did away with this bigotry in America.” Now there’s a rallying cry — end bigotry against over-sexed celebrities. Warren Beatty, call your answering service.
Clooney might want to comfort Cybill Shepherd, who was last seen cavorting with a recalled California governor. Shepherd admitted to an old romance with Gray Davis, saying they “made out passionately on the beach. We were covered with sand, but we were never lovers.” Take that, Ben Affleck — there is state level sex. Maybe even municipal dating.
This was a year that political celebrities celebrated sex. But could they love, too? Hugh Grant defined love as “loving someone no matter what their faults in a blind and unconditional way, such as the love Tony Blair has for George Bush.” Not that there’s anything diplomatically wrong with that.
Let’s leave celebrity political thought on a high note. Tim Robbins told the National Press Club last spring: “Hollywood is many, many different things, just as America is many, many different things.” If Tim Robbinsis thankful for America, I’m thankful for him.
Of course, some celebrities might be swallowing a bitter pill with their candied cranberries. After saying. “Here in France I feel at home,” surely Madonna has no Thanksgiving plans on this side of the Atlantic. She’s welcome to share mine. But please, Madonna, no French kissing. Freedom kissing only. And some turkey.
Howard Mortman is a producer for “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”