I was going to write another piece on Iran’s new hostage trade with the latest “exchange” and the predictable news today that Iran simply “arrested” another one, this time the elderly father of another captive seized in October. Both appear to be dual citizens of the U.S. and Iran, a fact that the more conspiratorial parts of my personality say could indicate this is less of a hostage situation than it may seem to be, but also raises the question of why the U.S. allows dual citizenship with a country whose semi-official mantra and chief executive call for our annihilation.
These developments however, together with the unremitting efforts of the rest of the world to get the various factions in the Syrian Civil War to agree to an armistice and continuing political unrest in Ukraine and warfare in that country’s eastern provinces, are basically more left turns in the cyclical nature of their respective, Groundhog Day-like struggles.
I also realized that with all the obsessive focus on our new Qum-based foreign policy and Near East and other small Political-Security problems, I have still been neglecting the American/pop culture commentary side of my responsibilities on this blog. To avoid repetition and bring some light into all this foreboding darkness, now that I, and presumably everyone else, have passed the tolerance limit on global affairs issues and with Gawker’s continuing implosion providing a nice opening for all that coveted celebrity gossip, Kardashian-phile, low-information voter net traffic, I’m turning over to TMZ mode for the rest of this post.
To start off on this new trite and dumbed-down path I’m going to begin with a subject that’s been irritating me for some time, the film industry’s habit of defying its usual reputation for obsessing over profit and making money with playing favorites and sticking with certain actors long after audiences have made clear they’re dislike for them. The most obvious example of this very selective Hollywood trend is George Clooney. The Killer Tomatoes conflict veteran, whose latest first-billed cinematic flop and “okayish” ensemble follow-up only highlight the fact that his entire film career, if not everything post-ER, has been one extended Ludovico Technique-like exercise in the Entertainment-Media Complex’s Grail Quest to force America to not only embrace, but love our worst cinematic Batman (pre-Ben Affleck, possibly).
I’m not the first to notice that the ruler’s of the movie industry seem to have decreed long ago that logic, profit margins and self-preservation be damned, George Clooney was going to be an A-list star. If Hollywood just threw him into enough leading roles and nauseating, worshipful “celebrity journalist” pieces in their print auxiliaries, eventually something would stick. However, the magnitude of their quixotic drive to make Clooney the heir of Tom Cruise’s box office kingship (well, pre-couch trampoline. Speaking of pop culture, anyone still remember that?) is well beyond any largesse shown to Hollywood’s other favorites, successful or otherwise.
In 20 years as an “above the title” star his only real headlined hits were a disaster film where he shared top-billing with Marky Mark, and famously, a giant wave (the last of which is the one that got featured on the film poster) and a composite Rat Pack remake series where he, and the film’s ticket sales, were held up by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and a horde of other movie stars. God knows how all of them were convinced to play second-tier to the Peacemaker, even the one of who makes up half of the duo that “wrote the screenplay” for Good Will Hunting together with Gigli (sorry to go back to Affleck but come March we might all forget Clooney’s Bruce Wayne and the rest of that atrocity. It’s like Daredevil has been erased from our collective memory).
His box office failures are so numerous and total, according to that venerated tome of online film knowledge, the Internet Movie Database, George himself has philosophically expressed bewilderment at his own ability to continue on as an actor. It’s almost like he’s Colin Farrell.*
*That last joke wasn’t totally fair, Farrell’s done some good work and numbers, as the link shows; I’m just still mad about Alexander. I was going to include Ryan Reynolds in this article but Deadpool had to destroy the box office.