January 06, 2005

A Meddler and a Cad

MEMO TO RICHARD GERE: Don't try to help.

Please, just don't try to help. We know you mean well, we know you're sensitive, we know you're with it and such -- but that said, don't try to help. Especially when you're attempting to help boost turnout in an election for top offices in the Palestinian Authority. Not only do the Palestinians not care what you think, they actually get somewhat annoyed when they learn you're a Yankee. The Reuters news agency has more on this interesting story:

Well known for his vocal support of Tibet's Dalai Lama and celebrated for his captivating good looks, Gere urged Palestinians in a television commercial broadcast ahead of Sunday's poll in the West Bank and Gaza to get out to vote for a new president to succeed Yasser Arafat, who died in November.

"Hi, I'm Richard Gere and I'm speaking for the entire world. We're with you during this election time. It's really important. Get out and vote," Gere said in the advertisement. He repeated the final phrase in Arabic.

But many voters, already struggling with the labyrinthine politics of the West Bank and Gaza, say they have never heard of the actor who swept Debra Winger off her feet as a dashing Navy officer in the 1982 film "An Officer and a Gentleman" and were even less interested when they were told he's an American.

"I don't even know who the candidates are other than Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), let alone this Gere," Gaza soap factory worker Manar an-Najar told Reuters.

We realize this snippet from the Reuters story will prompt many of our readers to consider important questions, such as: "What the devil are they talking about, captivating good looks?"

We mean, come on. It's Richard Gere. We're sorry, but we don't see it. We'd give him handsome, in a sort of vague and roundabout way, but he ain't what we'd call captivating. Harrison Ford is captivating. Robert Redford is captivating. Paul Newman is captivating. But Richard Gere? No.

To us, at any rate, Mr Gere is just above Ben Affleck in terms of looks and just below Gilbert Gottfried in terms of being annoying. That's even kind of unfair to Mr Gottfried, because he knows full well he's annoying, and has fun with it. Mr Gere, on the other hand, would cause us to suffer an unfortunate nosebleed not five minutes after meeting him, because he's so damned sensitive about everything.

So it's a pity Mr Gere wasn't a bit more sensitive about the "speaking for the entire world" bit while he was at it. Sure, one can't complain about the message itself, but what an awful way to put it! We don't know about you, but if we were in the place of that poor soap-factory worker, we don't think we'd be all that happy if some rich, spoilt movie actor were to lecture us from on high about our election -- especially if he claimed to have the world behind him.

But we suppose we ought cut Mr Gere a lot of slack. He did not, after all, write the advertisement, and it could have been any of a hundred celebrities in his place had he chosen not to take part. So we cannot fault him for his intent, or even for his follow-through. We can wish, though, that he had used his alleged charm to convince the folks behind the advertisement that their American-style script might not have been the best motivator.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at January 6, 2005 12:16 AM | TrackBack
Comments

You write:

"We realize this snippet from the Reuters story will prompt many of our readers to consider important questions, such as: 'What the devil are they talking about, captivating good looks?'

"We mean, come on. It's Richard Gere. We're sorry, but we don't see it. We'd give him handsome, in a sort of vague and roundabout way, but he ain't what we'd call captivating."
...

Both Cindy Crawford and Carey Lowell would clearly disagree with that statement. As my Y chromosome categorizes both of these women as "uber-captivating," I'd defer to their judgement on masculine beauty. If both of them thought Gere was hot enough to marry, I suspect he probably is "captivating."

Now that Gere has "captivating good looks" doesn't mean he has "captivating good politics" (generally the inverse is true), but give the man his due in his one area of achievement.

Posted by: Michael Meckler at January 6, 2005 02:49 PM

Hi Mike,

Your point is well-taken, but I think I've discovered a way to jump out from the corner in which I've found myself boxed. So in the hopes of dodging the obvious flaw in my theory (that is to say, Mrs Crawford), here's my counter-argument:

It is not impossible for a person to objectively note handsomeness or beauty in another person of the same sex; hence my own observation in that regard. Indeed, sometimes this is a more reliable gauge than if someone of the opposite sex makes such a judgement, as both men and women are generally (if grudgingly) willing to note a particularly attractive person of their own gender.

Further, people of the opposite sex may discern intellectual or personal attractiveness that is not entirely obvious to someone of the same sex -- thus explaining why more attractive people are often seen with less attractive partners. Thus, one can deduce that physicality alone is not enough to explain love -- a fancy way of explaining why people can't often figure out what HE (or she) is doing with HER (or him).

Also, regarding Mrs Lowell, I did an Internet search tonight and checked out some photos of her. To my eye, she's not in the same league as Mrs Crawford. This is NOT to say that she is ugly, because she ain't. It's merely to say that in my view, she's not at that pinnacle of beauty. Just as Mr Gere cannot hope to match the likes of Mr Ford.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at January 6, 2005 08:08 PM