Wheetleycolumn_9/6_sr_vox When is enough too much?

By Gus Bode

. That’s what creates stalkers, the love that is bordered by a true hatred. We tune in to watch them rise on ET, and then switch over to E! to watch them fall.

I am guilty as anyone; I buy People magazine and have favorite celebrities with no political reasons whatsoever. I like Tom Hanks, Rene Zellweger and Glenn Close. There are those who are talented and those who are just pretty to look at. I get irritated with stars like Elizabeth Hurley and Nicole Kidman because it seems that the personality and role of what ever part they are playing is “an attractive woman” and the fact that they are beautiful should be enough of a reason for us to see them.

I guess the male equivalent to that is Hugh Grant, whom I adore because he is adorable. I can’t complain about their visibility or the public love of them. We need them, they make us feel better, and they need us.

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What they don’t need is lots and lots of money. It comes with the territory, and I know that. If you are a star you will make $20 million for a film or TV episode or sporting event or whatever the case may be. We are the ones who buy tickets instead of buying cupcakes at school bake sales; we are as guilty as the industry that we worship.

So, they make their salaries and that’s fine. What I don’t understand is when they pretend that they need more money. The stars of “Friends,” for instance, who hold out for more and more money. A million dollars a week isn’t enough I guess. They always want to complain that they work long hours and that NBC is making a lot, so why shouldn’t they? What about the stage hands, the camera crew and the food service people; don’t they work long hours for a company making money off of their sweat?

Before I say my piece about Oprah, let me say that I encourage everyone to donate to charity and to volunteer whatever time they have to making the world a better place. However, when Oprah, who made $200 million in the year 2000, wants me to send her money for her Angel Foundation, I feel a little annoyed.

She grandly and dramatically gives away fifty thousand every Monday to someone she feels “deserves” it. She looks into the camera and announces, “You all need to do some volunteering, if I’ve got the time I know you got the time.” Well, Oprah, there is a very large difference between being as busy as you have to be and being as busy as you want to be, and you are definitely the latter.

Bill Gates is another whom I take issue with. He has a $10 million home that someone once figured was the equivalent of a normal American buying a home for ten dollars. He has $40 BILLION dollars. He could end world hunger and still be a BILLIONAIRE.

Tiger Woods is someone I’m surprised can sleep at night and look at himself in the mirror. He makes money playing golf, which may be more strenuous than it appears, I don’t know, but then he feels the need to command $100 million during five years to endorse Nike. Nike pays its workers in Asia $315 a year. One day’s salary for Tiger Woods is the day’s salary for 14,000 Nike workers.

When confronted with protesters, Tiger Woods was quoted as saying, “It’s just the way it is; you can’t fight it.” Not fighting it is one thing, working for the beast is another. Nike can afford to pay Michael Jordan a hundred thousand dollars a day to endorse Nike products but can only afford to pay its workers a few hundred dollars a year.

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The priorities of celebrities are appalling. I would like to think that after making one or two million, I would be able to say, “That’s enough.” I don’t know that, and I doubt I ever will. But I know that having made a ridiculous sum of money for something that I love doing, I would not go out of my way to get more money or ask people for theirs.

There is one celebrity that I admire greatly. I know that you know who I’m talking about:Rosie O’ Donnell. She is what I’d like to think I would be like if I were rich and famous. She was offered a $50 million sign-on for another five years of her show, and she walked away. She wanted to spend more time with her children and get her life back.

She already had $50 million; she didn’t need anymore. When asked how she “does it” with small children and a career she responds simply “I’m rich. I’m a celebrity and people pander to me and I have a lot of help because I have a lot of money. Ask the waitress with five kids working double shifts how she does it.” Amen Rosie.

I know that I’m not the best person in the world.ng I don’t live simply so that others may simply live. I give a little, but not as much as I could, and I do shop at Wal-Mart. I eat chicken and I ignore Michael Moore and buy name brands all the time. I am a hypocrite. Most of us who are not living in the woods off the sweat of our brow are in some way contributing to the evil that plagues our world.

It is not impossible for the good to be brought out and the bad to be put away, but the people in power and the people at the top need to make the differences. It is hard for a single mother, or anyone struggling to ignore the inexpensive clothes and food that Wal-Mart sells, but it’s easy for Kathy Lee to insist on fair wages and livable conditions for her clothing line. It’s hard for a kid who is trying to fit in to ignore society and pass on the name brand shoes. It is hard for any of us to find out exactly where and how the things we need to buy every day come from, but it would be easy for Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods to make a stand, or at the very least refuse to endorse a product that exploits small children.

Rosie should not be the minority. All celebrities should use what good fortune they have to help, or at least not to hinder, the good of the world.

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