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What celebrity meltdowns mean to San Francisco

Britney Spears
Photo: Fametastic.co.uk

By Daniela Kirshenbaum

February 26, 2007

Our friend Mike in New Orleans got in touch just in time for the Academy Awards. It turns out he and his kids played together with Brangelina and their kids at the public playground last week. Of course you already heard that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie moved the whole family there.

Brad Pitt
Photo: Justjared.buzznet.com

Angelina Jolie
Photo: allegedly.wordpress.com

Local custom in New Orleans dictates utter nonchalance in the presence of the famous.

Still, Mike was able to wish Brad good luck winning an award for “Babel.” All children involved remained blissfully unaware of anything unusual.

You don’t need more Hollywood gossip at a time when the world is going to hell. But it is hugely symptomatic of our increasingly upside-down world, San Francisco included: Actors are either becoming politicians or acting like them.

Politicians are partying and rehabbing like movie stars. Nationally, Republicans and Democrats are engaging in mutual brain transplants: GOP presidential candidates are flip-flopping on major issues and the Dems are aiming for fiscal sobriety.

What’s going on?

Columnists everywhere scold us for following celebrity melt-downs when there are urgent problems to be solved. But the aftermath of Anna Nicole Smith’s unexpected demise isn’t just ghoulishness. The fight over her body, baby, and money should remind us that none of this would be happening if the late Ms. Smith hadn’t been so skillful at presenting herself, and her appearance, in a way that pleased the public. Sound familiar?

No? Then let’s look at the next pop star to capture center-stage, Britney Spears.

First she broke one of the primary Woman Codes, which states Thou Shalt Not Appear in Public Wearing a Short Skirt With No Underwear (men don’t always understand this law). Nobody called that act of societal law-breaking as a cry for help. So she shaved her own head in another act of body-baring desperation. Personal acts that lead to public notoriety, followed by checking into rehab: does that ring a bell?

If not, let’s step back and look at the increasingly topsy-turvy big picture. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have chosen New Orleans, a significant American city, as the latest 3rd world country to spotlight.

It’s also a backwards situation at the state level: Governor Schwarzenegger has stopped trying to channel Ronald Reagan. Instead, he has decided to flex those muscles of his by listening to constituents on environmental issues! What would the tree-hating Gipper say? It’s incredible to watch a Hollywood star like Schwarzenegger develop political support across the board. No wonder former basketball bully Charles Barkley wants to be governor of Alabama – Arnold is starting to make it look easy.

Governor Schwarzenegger at the AB32 signing briefing.

So if actors can add to their political skills, can politicians add to their acting skills? Or should our top city leader learn from Anna Nicole that public glitz can mask a looming potential tragedy? Is Britney’s experience a harbinger of more troubles to come for our Number One?

As Fog City checks into more allegations, we will let you know. We would like to hear from you with more examples of what’s upside down at any level of government or society.

In the meantime, enjoy the tabloids and ponder their deeper meaning.




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