Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beware: When celebrities attack — each other!

MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch” used to be a guilty pleasure of mine. What could be better than watching Claymation facsimiles of celebrities fight each other to the death?

Actually, one thing would be better: watching the actual celebrities fight to the death. Unfortunately, that’s probably illegal. I’ll have to check with my attorney. So, when it comes to real celebrities settling scores, I have to settle for a war of words.

Since sparing us the sight of her on network TV, Roseanne Barr has retreated to her Web site, where her blog functions as a virtual shotgun aimed at people who can still find work.

First, Barr fired a volley at Angelina Jolie, Jolie’s oft-estranged father Jon Voight and her boyfriend Brad Pitt. Voight had committed the unpardonable sin of campaigning for Sen. John McCain for president, while Jolie has had the temerity not to make up her mind yet between McCain and Sen. Barack Obama. And what’s Barr’s problem with Pitt, you ask?

Oh, why not just let Barr speak for herself, typos and all: “jon voight your evil spawn angelina jolie and her vacuous hubby brad pitt make about forty million dollars a year in violent psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity as they spit out more dunces that will consume more than their fair share and wreck the earth even more.”

Ah, Rosanne, such class. It’s just like when you sang the national anthem.

But lest you think Barr is just carrying water for the Obama campaign, she’s not exactly thrilled he’s the Democratic presidential nominee. And whom does she blame for Obama’s rise? One guess: Oprah Winfrey.

Barr writes, “It is estimated that her endorsement of Obama swung over one million women's votes from Hillary, who remains the only candidate who polls to win against mccain. Oprah can rest well now knowing that her dogs will not have to pay inheritance tax over the next four years if she dies.”
Now, I could spend the rest of this column pointing out Barr’s factual errors and explaining the rules of capitalization. But there’s no fun in that, and it would be beside the point. Who cares what any of these Hollywood types think about McCain, Obama or inheritance taxes?

If celebrity political endorsements mattered, the Republicans wouldn’t have elected a president since Abraham Lincoln. And even Lincoln wasn’t beloved by all actors of his day. Just ask John Wilkes Booth.

But really, as far as celebrity smackdowns go, this isn’t a big one. Compared to the heavyweight couple of Jolie and Pitt, Barr is a mere featherweight, and her career has already suffered a TKO. It’s Bambi meets Godzilla, and, ironically, Roseanne isn’t Godzilla.

The movie and music industries have much better match-ups to offer. In fact, there is a Web site devoted to celebrity feuds, the aptly named

Many are obvious, like the ongoing hostilities between former couples Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin or Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. Others are legendary, like the titanic struggle between screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Others still are just bizarre: There’s a feud between Tina Turner and Elton John? Really?

Still, rivalries involving actors and musicians are comparatively lame. If it’s a war of words you want, then you want people who really know how to use their weapons. That’s why literary feuds are the best.

Ernest Hemingway vs. Gertrude Stein, Tom Wolfe vs. John Updike, Gore Vidal vs. Truman Capote — to say nothing of Gore Vidal vs. Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley Jr. — those were some epic battles.

Yes, dear Gore — so many enemies, and you’ve outlived them all. That’s how you win, you see, by getting the last word.

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