"I THINK we live in such a politically correct time at the moment. It almost feels like the Fifties again. People are so quick to judge and pick on something you say."
That's Michael Fassbender in Details magazine.
•FASSEBENDER'S remark is a major understatement. We now exist in a world where --if we choose -- our every opinion, minute to minute is shared with thousands, if not millions. We Twitter and Facebook ourselves to death. Or at least quite often to embarrassment maybe even loss of employment.
And if one is a celebrity, there is no such thing as the casual remark, the "little" interview. Everything is online, reported and judged. Last week, two famous actresses felt the wrath of the Internet -- Gwyneth Paltrow and Charlize Theron.
Paltrow is her own worst enemy. I don't quite understand the hate for her "out there" but it's real and, alas, she feeds it by continually taking to her website to sound off. Sometimes what she says is absurdly pretentious. Sometimes she has a point. (Although that point is usually expressed pretentiously. The girl can't help it.)
Her most recent gaffe was using the analogy of warfare in the matter of, well -- being so hated by so many who don't know her at all. This raised such a ruckus that the lovely Cindy McCain, wife of presidential loser John McCain gave an interview calling Paltrow a "fool" and inviting her to go to Afghanistan to see "what real warfare is like."
Ludicrous! Paltrow was using the word "war" as a metaphor. Just a few years ago, nobody would have thought about her remark, one way or another. Now she has to be burned at the stake. Or at least dragged to the Mid-East.
•CHARLIZE THERON has always been pretty well-liked by the anonymous hordes out there in the dark, in their pajamas. But she caused an even greater "scandal" than Miss Paltrow when she compared being chased by paparazzi and hounded by rumors about her personal life to -- being raped. Eh, perhaps she should have said "violated." Perhaps she shouldn't have taken the bait when the interviewer opened the subject of an "intrusive" press. But she didn't and she did and so now she, too, must be consigned to the flames.
Charlize participated in an anti-rape campaign aimed at her own country of South Africa, so she is not clueless or insensitive on the subject. She was just talking. The way people have always talked without being rapped on the knuckles with a sledgehammer.
Here's the real ironic kicker. We are so politically correct now. Absurdly so. But that means we are all much, much kinder, more sensitive in how we express ourselves, right? Wrong!!
The online comments about Paltrow and Charlize are mind-bendingly vile. Cruel, vicious. It seems that our culture, fueled by social media, demands correct behavior and careful conversation. But in the safe anonymity of their bedrooms and living rooms, typing furiously on their keyboards, millions spew out the worst words imaginable. (Oh, and if you think racism is something we don't have to worry about anymore, check out the comments section on an Obama story. Scary!)
Miss Theron is being pressed to apologize. She and her press reps are likely talking it over. She'll probably feel she has to. Maybe she'll even want to. That's up to her.
Nobody with half a brain thinks Charlize really equates her experiences in show biz with the brutality of rape. But we are also in an era of fake outrage -- being all worked up just for the fun of it, just to make noise.
So all those who have nothing better to do with their time than envy and despise celebrities -- while remaining obsessed with what they do, where they go, who they date -- will bray and screech, demanding Miss Theron do as they say.
•PERHAPS ALL actors should simply take their cues from Angelina Jolie. Miss Jolie never seems to fall into the trap of talking off the top of head. Certainly not in recent years. She never seems to complain about the press, either. And Lord knows, she has been pursued and lied about more than any star of the last decade
•HERE'S your chance to see in person three so-called "MEDIA LEGENDS" at The Players Club 16 Gramercy Park South on Monday June 9th 7:30 p.m.
Film producer and actor Howard Rosenman -- he made the AIDS quilt a legend -- and you saw him in Milk -- plus the beloved fashion guru Fern Mallis and yours truly talking about life, love, careers, movies and scandals.
I can't imagine what the three of us can possibly say that hasn't been said before.
But with these two "stars" I will do my best.
So please fill up the room for us.