Recently, to shamelessly plug myself, I wrote an inane litte rant, thinly disguised as a column, called 'Celebrity Boors - Hollywood Babble-On.' The aim was to point out celebrities whose feeble work has been thoroughly dwarfed by their personal meshuggeneh and thus begged the question 'why do we will still care?'
It's almost ludicrous to like any celebrity. Their incomes are an order or three magnitudes greater than our own, often they have nothing intelligent to say about anything, and rarely can they relate to us on anything but a very abstract level.
But, because turnabout is fair play, at least according to the words of someone wiser, it seems fair to reverse this and describe some celebrities who are rock solid. It was challenging, and although they may not deserve all of their riches and prestige, they at least deserve some recognition for intrepidly standing out. Here are my Top Ten Celebrity Rocks:
Julianne Moore - All she does is act. There is no role too challenging for her, and she's taken a few that others probably wouldn't. (If you saw 'Safe' (1995), you know what I'm talking about.) She poo-poos leading-lady trappings with panache, has a discerning eye for unique scripts (2 unfortunate sequals aside), and with few exceptions, seems to care more about her craft more than star power. She's not yet won an Oscar, but then again, screw Oscar.
Camille Paglia - Total Maverick. This Harley Hog ridin' lesbian can't be reckoned with. A shameless self-promoter, she sacrifices nothing for her intellectual ideas. After being disdained by and cast out from the comfortable haven in the good-old-girls-club that mainstream Women Studies academia has become, she intrepidly struck out on her own to challenge all comers, including the traditional feminists that never embraced her. She is blindingly intelligent, a tad hyperactive, but has, for lack of a better term, some serious cahones.
PT Anderson - It's hard to find successful directors who are truly intrepid, but this guy has done nothing but write and direct at least three great, very original pictures, never bowing to the buck, always adhering to his vision. While Soderburgh is working on the insipid sequal to the equally insipid Ocean's 11, and Linklater is insipidly prequalling Before Sunrise, we should all hope that PT is ferverishly baking another ear-turning effort against the banality of Hollywood.
Dave Grohl - Rock-and-Roll has died many times, always to resurrect itself like a bizarre Dracula that can't take a hint. Never was it deader than after Nirvana's Nevermind came out, and once we all saw grunge fashions on sale at Penney's, we knew we were hosed. But this guy, taking the cliche route that all drummers secretly wish for, somehow migrated to frontman without any pretense at all, and then proceeded to kick all of our asses with great rock. Damnation and salvation in one single entity, sound familiar?
Donald Trump - A boob with bad hair, The Donald, without any major contraversies, illegalites, or observable charisma of any kind, taught New York Real Estate Circles a lesson. Always kicking it up, fearlessly negotiating, this guy is the working-man's wet-dream of success. Sure, he's too rich, but everything he's done indicates he deserves every penny of it. What really enjoins him to this list is that he just won't quit, he'll keep intrepidly going on. That, and the fact that his first name is now an official title.
Curt Schilling - A dominant pitcher in the national league (lower case intentional), this rocker eschewed personal achievements and records to pitch for the second-most cursed team in baseball, the BoSox. He did the undoable for nl pitchers, and moved to the AMERICAN LEAGUE, where the DH rule makes it much easier for managers to mitigate pitching. He was already rich, already successful, but what did he gain? A thoroughly quixotic, and thoroughly beautiful opportunity to help the Boston Red Sox thwart the evil Yankees and finally take it to the hilt. Even Indians fans, of which this humble writer is loudly proud to call himself, must root for this at all costs, and also root for a guy whose character only improves the league.
Johnny Depp - He stands out like John Holmes against the other Tom Thumbs that are supposed to be leading male actors. Quite a bit larger than life and art, he has very convincingly managed to get the likes of Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck totally lost trying to carry his sizeable jock. Sure, he's said amazingly stupid things about politics and other more intellectual concerns, but he wasn't acting like he was smarter than us when he did it, and we can forgive him because he was still doing his job well when he said them.
Jerry Jones - King of the NFL's new guard, greatest owner in professional sports. They said he wouldn't win a Superbowl without Jimmy Johnson. Wrong. They said he would never have a great coach again. He brought in the Tuna. They said he was an egomaniac, but he welcomed the Houston Texans to the league with open arms, offering advice and assistance, and enthusiasm for a new rival. He sits on the NFL's competition commitee, is a supporter and master of the salary cap, and freely shares his knowledge with other owners. He only thinks he's better than anybody if his team beats the snot out of them on the field, which is as it should be. With more like him, every league would be better and funner to watch.
Pat Tillman - It's not the millions he walked away from, it's not that he's the rare serviceman who was also a celebrity, and it's not the fact that he is now deceased. It's the fact that this man, who had already accomplished in life the type of success that many of us only dream of, continued to dream and dared to do something greater yet. He did not slumber, allowing his eyelids to droop after a hard day on the football field, he was wide awake when we were sleeping, thinking 'what's next?'. What was the result? He graduated from the most elite military unit, the Army Rangers, which regularly spits out many talented hero-types who can't cut it, and went deep in to the bush. His actions mock those of guardsman Paul Rieckhoff, who is busy politically bitching about body armor and other minutae. It's a safe bet that Pat Tillman never would have let his words be used by something as crass as a political party's campaign, but then again, by all accounts, he never talked much or sought the limelight to begin with.
Intrepid Media Staff - Okay, they're not celebrities, they're a group, and I'm a bit biased. But consider, there is no brown-nosing here: These folks have created a web presence which focuses on free thought and good writing. A talented group themselves, they've attracted a larger group of talented, eclectic writers, and also inspired others like this writer to dust of his pencils and try again. Many of us normally disdain subscription-based services, but this one brilliantly offers the designation contributer instead of member. Ah, to have the opportunity to contribute in any small way, as opposed to merely being another member hanging in the face of the web on some inane, typical, screenname-armored flame sight. It's only admirable folks who would put ideals and vision before personal profit, particularly in the gold-rush climate of the web. It may be small, but it speaks with considerable volume in this day and age.
There you have it, my top ten Celebrity Rocks, in no particular order. It was not as easy as coming up with Celebrity Boors, but here's to hoping it gets easier in days to come.
Maybe it's you, maybe it's Dan. Things aren't quite the way they should be. And now it seems Dan's peace of mind has come up for the bidding, and those that he respects and trusts must all have been just kidding. Dan's little world has lost control, but still it keeps on spinnin'...
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5.11.04 @ 10:09a
Just from a Hollywood celebrity standpoint, thereby excluding sports, music and flagrant self-promotors (insert picture of Trump here)my list would include both Hepburn ladies, Katherine and Audrey. Katherine for her cahones in a time when it was not chic for women to have them. Audrey for her work to try and make the world a little better place to be.
5.11.04 @ 11:34a
Julianne Moore is, however, a commericial hound. Haircoloring and makeup, I believe.
Hey! Ocean's 11 wasn't insipid! It was good clean fun, and much better than the original. As far as Magnolia goes, I admired it, but wasn't that wrapped up in it.
Dave Grohl is amazing, as is Johnny Depp.
Pat Tillman - well said.
Intrepid Staff - yay!
5.11.04 @ 11:35a
PTA's first movie, Hard Eight aka Sydney, is pretty good too, if a lot more modest.
5.11.04 @ 3:28p
Why do I speak better Spanish than a guy named "Gonzalez"?
5.11.04 @ 4:01p
Because he is a traitor to his race. ;-)