The Night I Slept With Samuel Jackson
I couldn’t sleep last night. I was up thinking about the latest sign of the coming apocalypse. It did not take the form of seeing the author of The Law of Divine Compensation, Marianne Williamson, who in that tome reveals that “faith in God's promise of prosperity for all means no one has to worry ever again,” on my primary ballot here in Los Angeles. No, the sign I was worried about was that a major part of her campaign strategy was letting folks know that she was endorsed by celebrities including Nicole Richie.
Richie is a lovely woman, I’m sure. I am very fond of her new lilac locks, and if I were looking for someone to take me shopping for a handbag, she’d be my go-to girl. But when seeking political leadership, she’s not the first person who comes to mind. But, oh, that’s right—Ms. Williamson also got a thumbs up from that great philanthropist and constitutional scholar, Kim Kardashian. Williamson’s supporters reminded people on social media that the framers of the Constitution envisioned citizen-legislators who served part time and then went back to life in their communities. That may be so; however, most of them studied Greek, Latin, law, and philosophy, and none were returning home to lead workshops on A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. One can only hope that at least one of those Lessons is to eat less and exercise more.
But that’s not it either. This week there was news, if one can call it news, that a program titled I Slept with a Celebrity was being shopped around to media outlets.
I’m old enough to remember that once upon a time, artists were famous for achieving greatness in their field, like Robert Mapplethorpe or Ice Cube; or someone might achieve a kind of notoriety for doing something dubious but of interest to a niche audience, like Joey Chestnut, the reigning hot-dog eating champion. It’s not news that the term “celebrity” is now a catch-all for any number of personalities who happen to have been born into wealth, competed to eat insects on a tropical island, or married a stranger who bears a resemblance to a member of the British royal family. The only prerequisite to qualify is someone whose raison d’etre is to be in front of a camera at all times. Is it possible that back in 1991, Warren Beatty uttered the most prescient indictment of our current cultural trends in Truth or Dare , the Madonna-mentary, in which Beatty said of the singer, “She doesn't want to live off-camera, much less talk. There's nothing to say off-camera. Why would you say something if it's off-camera? What point is there existing?”
Bravo has apparently passed on the idea, but I think we’ll hear it finds a home and I predict we’ll soon be regularly hearing announcements that herald this and other programs that will be “coming to a phone near you.” I am haunted by a related phrase that will probably blossom into wide use: “please welcome, star of stage and phone...”
To paraphrase author Dan Savage: It only gets lower. And how low will it go? One can imagine a season two featuring porn stars who slept with Charlie Sheen, followed season three that will be populated by the people who slept with the people who become celebrities from having made appearances on I Slept with a Celebrity.
I suppose if I get really strapped for cash, I will also go on the show, as I have slept with a celebrity myself. Samuel Jackson and I were seated next to each other on a red-eye two years ago and we slept together in and over both New York and Los Angeles for five hours, which is longer than most Hollywood marriages.
Another thing keeping me awake at night has been the announcement from Nielsen that a record 9.1 million people were so into the Breaking Bad finale that they were not only following it on TV but on Twitter as well, and that Nielsen is going to be keeping track of this second screen viewing from now on. Entertainment companies are so desperate to up the viewer engagement level, some are offering contests to receive phone calls from cast members But how short are our attention spans that we must flit from screen to screen? So short that I just forgot what I was writing because I was checking my email in the middle of composing that sentence.
I also marveled that the NSA allowed Nielsen was allowed to make this info public. Learning that the American people were transfixed by two screens at the same time, we’re talking about live viewing, leads me to consider the kind of security breaches that could take place on that sad evening next year when Madmen comes to an end and most of America will be slack-jawed and inert in front of our televisions sets/tablets/phones waiting to find out if we will be lucky enough to receive a call from Pete or Roger exhorting us to follow them on Instagram. Another sign of the apocalypse? The Matrix was real.
I was also kept awake by the second-guessing over the trade for Sergeant Bergdahl that started almost the moment the trade was announced and, although I try to avoid such things, I did have a few suggestions on what have made for valuable negotiations instead. Homeland was real!
First, with summer approaching, it might have been a great idea to offer the Taliban leaders what is one of the most coveted “gets” at this time of year—a summer internship for their kids. As the mother of a teenager, I am here to tell you that there are few things I wouldn’t part with, including a kidney, if I could find someone to hire him.
Second: Marc Zuckerberg. No matter how infuriated I get with exhortations to play Hugs or Jackpot Party Casino Slots I haven’t quit Facebook yet. Zuckerberg is a genius. But last week Facebook started asking me how I know my friends and if I socialize with them outside of Facebook, so I’m ready to give him up.
Finally, instead of trading for Bergdahl, we could have sent in someone to retrieve him who appears to have mastered the art of covert operations—celebrity prankster Vitalii Sediuk, who ambushed America Ferrera’s dress, occupied Bradley Cooper’s crotch, and invaded Brad Pitt’s face. Before you roll your eyes, you should know that security is so tight at these events it’s truly incredible that he’s managed these feats. There have been times when I could barely gain access to movie openings for films I was in.
Sediuk is also probably fielding an offer from Andy Cohen, because having once kissed Will Smith on the mouth probably qualifies him to be on I Slept with a Celebrity. In fact, Cohen is probably getting a call from someone who slept with Sediuk who wants to be on the show as well. At least his name wasn’t listed along with the other endorsements for Williamson, but the results are now in, and celebrity influence is real! I’s clear her running helped fragment the vote and put Republican Elan Carr in the number one spot in the primary race to replace retiring Democrat Henry Waxman.
Williamson is most famous or notorious for her lectures on the self-help gobbledy-gook, A Course in Miracles, but the election results were nothing miraculous. It was just plain old math.