The Good, the Bad and the Famous, by Len Sherman, New York: Lyle Stuart, 218 pages, $18.95.
Is this any way to run a country? That's the question Len Sherman asks in The Good, the Bad and the Famous. His implicit answer is no.
Sherman looks at the growing attempts by celebrities to influence public policy. Hollywood long has been an important source of money for politicians, particularly those on the far left of the Democratic party. But in recent years, movie stars have begun to place conditions on the money they grant. They want to be heard. Groups such as the Hollywood Women's Political Committee have formed to shape the political agenda. In return for star-studded fundraisers, the HWPC demands that politicians listen to its views on which issues are important and which positions are correct.
The problem with all of this isn't just that all of these celebrities are somewhere to the left of Mao. No, the real problem is that they are all a bunch of ninnies.
Sherman has spent considerable time with some of the most active celebrities, and he recounts some of the lengthy conversations he had. A few stars—most notably Ed Asner, John Randolph, and Charlton Heston—ably explain and defend their ideas. But the statements of most of Sherman's celebrities could lead one to believe that the L.A. smog destroys brain cells.
Consider Jane Fonda's speech at a HWPC benefit for pro-choice candidates: "It's been very special. And it's special to be from a town, Hollywood, in which some very prophetic words were said by Joan Crawford: 'No more wire hangers!'" Or Morgan Fairchild's explanation of why she was qualified to appear before a Senate committee and discuss an environmental bill: "As an actress, I have spent most of my professional life in dramatic situations which imitate real life. I have become increasingly sensitive to human interaction in a world that is increasingly crowded."
But both of those women appear to be geniuses when compared to Brat Packer Judd Nelson. Asked if people still believe in the traditional institutions of American society, Nelson responds, "It seems that to protect the status quo as opposed to the tremendous gains in public participation in what's considered a democracy, the threat to those in charge of the status quo then pushed into a 'Me Generation' in the 1970s, which, in effect, destroyed every institution that we had. People don't believe in the Supreme Court. Now it's up to Sandra Day O'Connor; she's going to be the deciding vote. The eight men are split, right, so she's going to cast the deciding vote because she's a woman. She has lots of kids, so she's like a great, great mother of the nation. You know. We don't believe in family. More than fifty percent of marriages fail. We don't believe in government anymore. We had a President on the verge of being impeached. He got a pardon by the next joker, who lowered the speed limit." The man not only acts with his nostrils, he apparently thinks with them as well.
The one real weakness with Sherman's book is that it never gets beyond the anecdotes. Ultimately, he never answers the important questions: Why is Hollywood so left-wing? Why does America continue to give a soapbox to bimbos with a cause? And did Jane Fonda really have a boob job? Inquiring minds want to know.
Still, Sherman has performed a valuable service just by retelling his stories. Lest we ever forget, he reminds us that these people may be young, and they may be beautiful, but collectively they don't have the brains God gave a chipmunk.