kenny hodgart

A time for heroes

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This article appeared in the Herald

It is a heartening thing, one supposes, that Hollywood celebrities occasionally become exercised about matters other than their own fame.

Americans, at any rate, tend to be of a mind to take heed when they do. A charming people in many ways, they have great difficulty in absorbing the concept that George Clooney and Will Smith are not one and the same as the good-guy types they routinely play in films.

Barack Obama has come to recognise – now that he is in government and no longer merely a star candidate – that he is no longer trusted. Thus, short on ideas on how to “plug the damn hole” currently spewing vast quantities of oil from a BP rig into the Gulf of Mexico, he has been busy answering calls from LA’s entertainment oligarchy.

Kevin Costner, who was once in Waterworld, a terrible film set at sea, has offered to supply machines – in whose production he has a pecuniary interest – that separate oil from water. James Cameron, the director who made Abyss, a rather better film set in the depths of the ocean, has raised Costner a fleet of sea-robots. And Scarlett Johansson has come up with nothing; although, with the consummate presumption of her caste, she met with administration officials to discuss it.

There are those who wonder whether Hollywood folk can really make a difference where BP and the US government have so far failed, but Cameron seemingly knows what he is talking about and has the resources to help out. Not only are they trusted by Americans, but Hollywood’s top earners rival corporations and even governments in terms of power and influence. Soon, it is almost certain, we will wake up to the news that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have bought Tibet, or that Bruce Willis has invaded North Korea or that Robin Williams is to send a Ugandan family to the moon.

And when the film guys start doing all that, it should come as no surprise that a blue-collar worker from Colorado wants to be Rambo. Gary Faulkner, 52, was nicked in Pakistan this week trying to cross into the Taliban stronghold of Nuristan, on a mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The authorities declared he was “ill” (which means “mental”, I seem to think). Perhaps they were worried in case he managed to achieve what they’ve spent a decade failing to, but they should have let him have a go. It would have made for an excellent film some day.


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