Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why the relative silence from George Clooney over China?

This is rich:
Gorgeous George is going to “continue to talk to Omega.” He’s going to “go to places” and “ask for help.”

We’ve yet to hear from Clooney on the specific issue of Tibet, but he’ll surely take an even stronger stance than he has over Darfur, given that this time Chinese are doing the shooting themselves, rather than merely supplying the ammunition.

We can perhaps hope for something along the lines of the blistering attack Clooney launched on Nestle last year, when it was politely pointed out that his commercial activities on behalf of a company that’s been criticised for its policies in the third world didn’t sit well with his self-appointed role as global crusader for the oppressed.

Here’s the full, unedited transcript:

“I’m not going to apologize to you for trying to make a living every once in a while. I find that an irritating question.”

Okay, it wasn’t that blistering. However, Clooney has on other occasions been genuinely outspoken in his condemnation of perceived injustices — namely those he feels have been committed by the United States, and specifically by the Bush administration.

He’s been among the most high-profile critics of the Iraq war, which is of course his right, although as Austin Bay has pointed out, the numerous similarities between the case made by the Bush administration for invading Iraq and Clooney’s own justification for US intervention in Sudan somewhat undermine his position.

So why the apparent double standard from a man who affects such fearlessness in challenging injustice all its forms? Why the relative silence from Clooney over China?

He could conceivably make the argument I referred to at the start of this piece — that “engagement” with unpleasant regimes is more useful than punitive measures.

But, come now — no amount of Omega-sponsored photo-shoots and drinks parties featuring Clooney modeling expensive watches are going to affect China’s policies towards Tibet or Sudan.

On the other hand, public severing of his links with Omega would attract worldwide publicity on a scale similar to that generated by Steven Spielberg’s recent decision to snub the Games.

Maybe, like all those corrupt politicians and corporate scoundrels that inhabit his films, Clooney simply has his price.

But there’s another possibility, which is slightly more charitable. Perhaps Clooney needs the money so that he can continue to fund worthy documentaries and “political” feature films which, while well-received critically, aren’t necessarily successful in terms of box office receipts.

How ironic if would be if Clooney was reduced to compromising his principles so that he could make more films in which those principles are so blatantly flaunted.

(via Glenn Reynolds)

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