Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Mama Always Said Greed Is As Greed Does

I turned on the radio in my van to NPR early yesterday morning, shortly before 6 AM, and was dropped into the middle of Leonardo DiCaprio's acceptance speech from the Academy Awards for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant. Of course being a Hollywood type in what has already been a painfully politically correct Oscar season, he couldn't help making his speech largely a clumsy political diatribe. The second half is where he goes off the rails.
And lastly, I just want to say this: Making The Revenant was about man's relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much.
The politics of greed?

Mr. Dicaprio made some $20,000,000 for pretending to be a frontiersman. Before that he was paid around $25,000,000 for The Wolf of Wall Street and another $20,000,000 for the Great Gatsby before that. By my math that means he made $65,000,000 over the last 3 years and he not surprisingly lives in a house that he paid more than $6,000,000 for. I am certain that he really is in touch with the plight of American Indians and the other oppressed people of the world. Often it seems as if actors think that pretending to be something for a couple of hours is the same thing as understanding the reality of life for real people around the world who don't walk off the set to a pampered existence that would make many kings and emperors of history jealous.

Why did Dicaprio demand so much money for making those movies? Why didn't he do them for one million or even one hundred thousand dollars. He still would be quite wealthy, he would still be in the 1% rather than 1% of the 1% of the 1%. Perhaps he is also driven by greed? Or perhaps he simply is talented enough to demand that sort of pay and believes that he should be paid as much as he can negotiate. Why isn't that greed but a corporate executive making a few million a year is? What we declare greed is pretty malleable depending on where we stand and how we relate to others. An executive that runs a multinational company with tens of thousands of employees and billions in revenue probably thinks that they are worth a huge salary just as Leonardo Dicaprio apparently feels no qualms at demanding tens of millions of dollars to dress up in furs and act like a guy that he really can't begin to understand to entertain people in dark theaters seeking for a few hours to escape from the real world.

The reality behind the Oscars and the risible "diversity" quota controversy and the self-congratulatory narcissism on display is that the people who pay to see the movies that enrich these people are seen as peasants. Famous actors should have armed bodyguards but the working slobs can't be trusted with guns. Movie stars should be paid insane amounts of money to pretend to be someone else but people in the private sector real world are greedy if they make a nickel more than someone else. The little people have to sacrifice to fight "climate change" but stars can get around the world on private jets, live in massive homes that eat up enormous amounts of energy and sink billions into making movies so stars can lives like kings, the vast majority of which are unwatchable, rather than directing those billions to helping the poor that they claim to be concerned about. On and on, the hypocrisy is nauseating.

Mr. Dicaprio is a good actor and is better than all but a tiny fraction of people who aspire to acting as a career. Because of that he demands a huge amount of money to pretend to be someone else on camera. I am fine with that. He ought to get paid whatever he can demand in the marketplace, just like anyone else. I likewise don't think that I am owed some of his money. I didn't earn it and therefore I have no claim to it. All I ask is that he not rant about greed when he seems to be pretty greedy himself. Leonardo might be a good actor but even he isn't good enough to pretend to be above greed when making millions of dollars for a single film. 

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