"I'm a sinner," reads the famous black tee shirt from Madonna's recent "MDNA" concert tour. On the back, it reminds us that we are all sinners.
I have been thinking about this since all the hoorah of Pope Benedict XVI's decision to retire and the coming gathering in the Vatican to choose a new Pope. I've decided that one controversy after another, throughout history, the Catholic Church has made a lot of poor sometimes disastrous decisions and had to be forgiven for them. Its history is far from perfect although perhaps its civilizing force during the Renaissance and the good works the Church does all over the world make up for it.
I see that Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite novelists, suggested in the New York Times last Sunday that "You don't have to be a cardinal to lead the church. Why not a nun in heels?" (Mr. Leonard grew up in the Church, taught by Jesuits.) It wouldn't be a bad idea if the Cardinals meeting considered this advice.
It is said that the Italians who run everything in the Vatican, along with their invited Cardinals, will consider 116 men, average age being 72 years, for the next Pope. They might select someone from Asia, Africa, Latin America, or the rest of Europe with an emphasis on Italy, and they will give a nod to North America.
I'd personally like to see New York's Timothy Cardinal Dolan be the next Pope. He is young, a vigorous 63, has a grand sense of humor and a lot of persuading charm. He seems to usually be laughing and urging nonbelievers to join him. He puts a realistic face on things. Not that it will ever happen. America may still be powerful but this country is not popular world wide at the moment.
Maybe a Pope like the American Cardinal could help change all that by bringing a modern aspect to the Vatican. For one thing, doesn't the Church need to dispense with some of the pomp and pomposity? Not to forget the absurd man-made strictures about celibacy that only lead to trouble.
- Seth MacFarlane gave ABC-TV's Oscar telecast a million more viewers this year. Despite Seth indicating that his hosting stint was a one-time-only thing, I bet he's being wooed right now to reprise his act for the 2014 show.
From the New York's Post's movie critic, Kyle Smith to the New York Times, people are trashing the Academy Awards show. Though comic turns are allowed some leeway, there are always the totally "politically correct" types who must protest.
The Times notes Jewish organizations that felt they were held up to ridicule and women who protested the "We Saw Your Boobs" musical tribute to onscreen nudity, which named actresses from Meryl Streep on down.
But slightly salacious wisecracks are endemic in popular culture. As noted above, the Oscarcast was a ratings hit and should be allowed its hits and errors if we want the telecasts to be continued.
It is said there are no real stars nowadays but Seth MacFarlane, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron gave us stars galore, many of them doing things they'd never done before, (Channing Tatum used to be a stripper, and played one in Magic Mike -- who knew he could ballroom dance so effortlessly with the divine Charlize Theron?) And when do you think we'll see the shy and nervous Barbra Streisand perform on the Oscars again, or Shirley Bassey, who confines her concert appearances to the UK and Europe?
It was all fun. Relax!
- By the way, if you were to ask the press corps, which have covered all this year's nominees at various awards shows and parties, who is their favorite, hands down the answer would be Jennifer Lawrence.
At 23, she is full of fun and enthusiasm and candor. She cracks jokes, she makes fun of herself. She seems to be able to handle the pressure of the media with high-spirited composure. She does not, at this point, appear to take herself too seriously.
- Although I'm sure she was sincere, Anne Hathaway's wistful "It came true" remark at the Oscar podium, while making goo-goo eyes at her award, has instantly become something of a joke. In certain circles, whenever something good happens, a wiseacre whispers, "It came true." This results in everybody falling about laughing.
I was surprised, then, to learn that the lovely Anne is considered "the most polarizing star in Hollywood." Salon online magazine did a long piece on Hathaway. They say she has taken "the love/hate mantle" from the previous owner Gwyneth Paltrow.
There seems to be many reasons for this -- her good-girl image, which is suspected to be fake, the still-remembered scandal that enveloped her Vatican-connected boyfriend who was revealed to be running a series of Ponzi schemes, even her creamy, pristine looks. (She still looks a girl, rather than a grown woman of 30.)
Salon writer Daniel d' Addario quotes film historian David Thompson: "Deep down, we loathe celebrities. We envy them. We think they don't deserve it. We hate the influence they have over us. And so, there must be sacrificial lambs."
The author concludes that for the time being, Hathaway just can't win, and that all actresses eventually find themselves criticized and scrutinized for the very qualities that won them popularity to begin with. And, of course, as always, male stars have an easier time of it.
Jennifer Lawrence, take note.