Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ego and Lucre

James Franco ... Matt Damon ... Holiday Hams and ... Slutty Swans?    
by Denis Ferrara

“GET OUT of your own way. Ego is a killer.” 

Mark Summers for Rolling Stone
That’s James Franco, answering Rolling Stone’s “The Last Word” questionnaire, on the best advice he’s ever received. 

If Franco really lives by this motto, it is a revolutionary approach to show biz — to all biz! — I must say.  And I must say again how disappointed I was that Franco’s  mesmerizing “The Deuce” on HBO was so slighted by the Golden Globes. 

Not that what was nominated, wins or loses will be the main event. Now everybody’s up in arms about whether  women should wear black, in solidarity with the MeToo movement, etc.

Two thoughts on this subject which is consuming famous men — and even a female politician recently — like an enormous supernatural sinkhole.

First off, Matt Damon is correct in pointing that there is a difference between conflating gross groping or inappropriate behavior and rape and much more serious allegations of abuse of power.

He said nothing wrong, and women who are trashing him are not helping their cause if they don’t recognize all the gray areas in male/female interaction.

(One of those women is his ex, Minnie Driver. Years ago, Matt, in a very rare public misstep, announced their separation on Oprah. I guess that’s not the sort of thing one gets over, apparently.)
Secondly, I read the most ludicrous article in the New York Times about a week ago.  Music critic Anthony Tommasini wondered, “Should I Put Away My Levine Collection?”  James Levine, the famous conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, was recently accused of sexually abusing several young men, many years ago. He’s toast now.

Tommasini agonized over further appreciating Levine’s work in the wake of these allegations. What a pile of hooey. The critic ends up by saying he won’t throw out his collection, but will “move them out of the living room.” 
You know what? Let’s get in touch with Turner Classic Movies. AMC, TMC, Sundance, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, HBO and all the other outlets that show films.

Let’s look closely at the private lives and public peccadilloes of the stars, directors, producers of these movies.  The abusive drunks, the hopeless drug addicts, the men who took advantage of their co-stars, the directors and studio heads who employed the casting couch.  How about the near-nymphomanical “ladies” of the screen, the compulsive, heartless adulterers, male and female?  And then, because our lives are perfect, let’s purge all art that is not filmed, painted or written by the pure and spotless. 

Also, I think we can run through the Metropolitan Museum — for starters — and clean out a lot of what hangs on those walls! All those “bad” artists.
This is an empowering and important moment and movement for women — for all those who have suffered genuine abuse and harassment. (Although don’t get me started on the very physically imposing actor Terry Crews, and his “trauma” at being drunkenly groped at a party — by somebody who called the next day to apologize. Life is full of stupid incidents. Get over it.)

But like all great movements there is — in the rush to judgment, in the pent-up, cruelly corralled emotions of the abused, the ruined, the genuinely traumatized — a dark and irrational side. We are beginning to see it.

If YOU’RE reading this, likely you don’t need a free meal.  I won’t swear to that, but I figure it’s a safe bet.  However, within the tri-state area, there are thousands of families who are not reading The New York Social Diary. 

They couldn’t care less if Meryl Streep wears black to the Golden Globes and many of them don’t know or care who Harvey Weinstein ruined. They’d like to have a good dinner in this holiday season. 

To that effort there is the St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters.  They feed, clothe and counsel low-income families.   This is the time of the annual Holiday Ham Drive, distributing to families in need, 5,000 families, in fact. 

You can donate one ham for $20 and go up the porker to five hams for $100.  That’s nothing — a hundred bucks?  How many of us spend at least that on an Uber on any given day?

Donate by phone (212-279-6171) or fax (212-631-0120) or online — All donations are tax-deductable. 
... I’VE ALWAYS been a big fan of swans, despite their famously prickly nature.  They are lovely to look at of course.  And the romantic in me was always moved by the fact that swans were supposedly monogamous, mated for life. Well, because 2017 decided to end with an upside to the head of my sentiment, I just read in The New Yorker that swans are NOT monogamous at all. 

Writer Zoe Heller tells us that “... the beloved symbols of romantic and sexual fidelity, have some chronic philanderers among their number. (How swans had kept this from us for so long is a mystery.) Other species regarded as paragons of sexual constancy — prairie voles and shingleback skinks — have also proved, on closer inspection, to be inconstant lovers.”  Thank you, love-crusher, Zoe Heller!

So, what remains?  (If you want to believe in human monogamy, be my guest. And here’s a bridge for sale.)  Well, Ms. Heller allows that black vultures, owl monkeys and California mice are still faithful to their mates. 

Well, okay.  But I’ve heard a few dispiriting tales about owl monkeys myself.
ENDQUOTE:  “Never follow the money.” 

That’s Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, replying to Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire query, about his life motto.

Hmmm ... Karl and James Franco should get together!  Between Franco’s disparaging the ego, and Knausgaard’s disregard for filthy lucre, maybe they are the leaders of a new world order. We sure as hell need one!
Contact Denis here.