One of my favorite tidbits about Hollywood that I've gleaned from the starstruck press is that a great many of its most accomplished stars don't allow their staffs to look them in the eye. I'm not making this up. It has been reported that Barbra Streisand not only discourages eye contact among staff, but that she required hotel workers to leave her presence only by walking backward. Jennifer Lopez - who had 75 attendants help her prepare for a cameo on "Will & Grace" - is also reputed to forbid her subalterns to look into the windows of her soul. Sylvester Stallone won't stand for such effrontery, and Tom Cruise likes to ban eye contact, too, at least while he's working.
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of Hollywood's glitterati have staffers for every human need. Some of the biggest stars have personal aroma therapists. Mariah Carey employs someone whose only job is to hand her towels. Kim Basinger has a personal umbrella-holder charged with protecting her from the sun's aging rays. Sean Penn once made a staffer swim the icy and dangerous currents of the East River simply to get him a cigarette.
And so on.
I bring this up because when I hear a movie star boast that he's "proud to be out of touch," this is the sort of thing I think of.
George Clooney, Hollywood liberalism's best, prettiest and shiniest pony, has something different in mind. As you no doubt heard, Clooney offered an eloquent bit of self-congratulation Sunday night when he accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Responding to the notion that Hollywood is "out of touch," Clooney gushed that "We were the ones who talked about AIDS ... about civil rights, when it wasn't really popular" He swooned over the fact that "this Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters." And so, he testified, he is "proud to be 'out of touch.'"
One wonders whether he shopped this little speech out to one of his staffers or if he came up with all by his lonesome. Either way, he needs a new speechwriter.
First, let's keep in mind that it really wasn't "this group of people" who gave Hattie McDaniel the first Oscar ever awarded to an African-American for her work in "Gone With the Wind." But we all understand he was speaking figuratively.