Monday, July 16, 2007

LIVE FROM TIANANMEN SQUARE

I’m beginning to think the Chinese have it right.

Now I don’t mean the Chinese as a “people” – although heaven knows if it weren’t for that country’s cheap and delightfully dangerous knockoffs of famous American toys, I wouldn’t know WHAT to buy the Servants’ children for Christmas. If a diet of lead paint and tiny, choke-on-able knick-knacks was good enough for my generation, it’s certainly good enough for the Help.

No, I’m talking about the old fashioned Tiananmen Square kind of China, where the politicians in power are bent on keeping the chattering classes from chattering too loudly.

Granted, they recently executed the head of what is essentially their Food and Drug Administration for inefficiency which, while I applaud the idea of a reduction in the size of government, does seem a little heavy handed. But one can forgive a bit of over-zealousness in this case, especially when one is looking at the Bigger Picture.

I was reminded of this while “surfing the web” - a phrase I find utterly deceptive inasmuch as it calls to mind fresh air, salt water and muscular bodies navigating wave after wave in some glorious tropical clime - never mind that the average “websurfer” is in fact a morbidly obese, junk food addicted shut-in with a penchant for kiddie porn.


Normally I’m not much of an Internetophile, having no interest in swapping brownie recipes or the weather in Kuala Lumpur, but in this particular case I was perusing an online article about an Actor who co-stars in my latest film. Ian Roberts was a huge rugby icon in Australia, came out as openly gay, and is now pursuing a career in The Movies; a small role in “Superman Returns” led to a larger part in my new spy thriller, and he’s currently on the cover of America’s Gay Newsmagazine of Record as well as featured within its pages as part of the “Sex Issue”.

Now why exactly the full fifty odd pages of a gay periodical need to be reserved for “Sex” is another matter entirely. It would seem to me that if someone is THAT interested in “Sex” they would hardly bother taking the time away from said activity in order to read about it in a magazine. But then the literary habits of the working class have always mystified me.

Case in point, the success of US MAGAZINE, which isn’t really about “us” at all and in fact should probably be called “THEM” except that sounds a bit creepy. But I suppose if dear Betty Ann from Dubuque can’t live without knowing just exactly how many adoptees Angelina Jolie has in her petting zoo, who am I to deprive her of that pleasure?

Anyway, being that my houseboy Panton is still unaccounted for (he was due to arrive in Peru or Ecuador or whatever several days ago but as of this writing only a suitcase filled with porcelain kittens and a Go Padres! Towel has shown up at his family home), and I certainly am not about to drive in 118 degree desert heat across town to the local “Gayeria” in order to wade through the rainbow colored personal vibration devices for a copy of some homosexually inclined knockoff of Newsweek, I decided to venture “online” to read about my little starlet.



The photographs are, of course, quite stimulating –
if you like that sort of thing – and the accompanying text was both interesting and mildly suggestive; the perfect combination for a late afternoon distraction when the summer heat makes it unbearable beside the pool and your new part-time “aide de camp” hasn’t yet figured out how to work the back patio icemaker.

But imagine my chagrin to discover, upon further examination of the website, that not only can one read about these things on the Internet, but one is actually encouraged to RESPOND – to write comments and replies as if the opinion of a faceless horde of gossip mongers actually MEANS something!

Well I for one am horrified.

Is it not bad enough that we have to listen to the uneducated and untrained voices of the babbling masses on afternoon television talk shows or in those dreadful radio call-in shows? I mean, I am as entertained as the next person by watching them bash each others’ brains in with furniture on “The Jerry Springer Show” or get chased through their trailer parks in stained tank tops on “COPS”, but I certainly have no interest in hearing what these cretins have to SAY.

NOW it seems the world is fair game for anybody with a computer and, one assumes, either opposable thumbs or enough breath to blow into one of those typing tubes you see in Lifetime movies about “a courageous woman overcoming a drunk driving accident and raising ten children on her own”. To have these people in possession of electrical equipment is frightening enough; to have them actually speak their MINDS is, to put it mildly, apocalyptic.

In this case, the responses to the article featuring my friend the Actor were repulsive; everything from insults about his appearance to insinuations about his sexual activities and beyond!

THE SITE: http://www.towleroad.com/2007/07/rugby-icon-ian-.html

If this were an actual gathering of civilized people instead of a “virtual” one made up of dullards with the social skills of a sexually abused yak, it is safe to say that every single one of these twits would have had more than a few drinks thrown in their faces and been shown the door.

Needless to report of course that all of these ghastly innuendoes were signed anonymously, the identities of these practically illiterate morons hidden behind their oh-so-clever screen names in order to protect themselves from either the guilt of saying such stupid things or the shame of being found out as having nothing better to do with their time.

The argument was raised that this is a “forum” and as such, all topics are fair game. The problem of course is that it is assumed that people who enter into said forum will have, if not an expertise in the topic of which they’re speaking, at least a modicum of intelligence with which to form a point of view.

The idea of all voices being equal is lovely in theory, but with the educational system we currently have in this country being just slightly above criminal, and with the current cultural level hovering somewhere between Britney’s shaved genitals and George Bush’s SAT scores, I would venture to say that some of those voices shouldn’t say anything more challenging than “did you want fries with that?”

Where I come from, a gentleman is held accountable for his words. If one has nothing nice to say, one generally doesn’t post it on a wall and then run for cover; one either says nothing at all – as our mothers told us – or gets a job as a Film Critic.

However the Internet has now given us complete Freedom of Speech. If only it would also give us Freedom FROM Speech…