I don't make a point to seek out celebrity news. I have never purchased a tabloid, nor have I ever watched one of the tabloid gossip shows in its entirety. I'm attentive enough to know that Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray is now hosting one of those awful shows and former sportscaster Pat O'Brien eschewed a career covering March Madness to gab about the latest celebrity dirt.
I'm sure Sugar Ray is getting paid lots of money because he's cute and attracts a strong audience of gay men and young girls but Pat O'Brien had the job any man with testicles would do for minimum wage. Maybe Pat was quietly chased out of the sports business because he likes to get plastered and leave vulgar messages for various women in the office. Maybe he could get together with Prince Charles and start up a little phone sex business. You're so hot. I want to be your tampon.
Do women find threesomes sexy? With other women? I didn't think so but apparently Pat thinks the way to a woman's heart is through another woman's hoo-hah. And I can't speak for women, but I know that I don't find the menstrual cycle sexy. Necessary? Sure Natural? Absolutely. But sexy? Nope. Maybe Charles wants to be your tampon, but when the red tide's rolling I prefer to stay off the beach.
But I digress. In spite of the fact that I don't seek out this crap, it still filters in and I am endlessly amazed at how stupid the people we worship can be. Every decade or so we get the skinny on some fad religion. Moonies, Hari Krishnas, Eugenics. Sadly we want to make fun of Richard Gere for being a devoted Buddhist, when the real pin heads are buying into Scientology or Kabbalah. At least Buddhism isn't a sham designed to cater to insecure celebrities seeking spiritual validation. Well, maybe Buddhism does that to a degree, but it's not exactly a fad.
That's what it boils down to, you know? The same is true with the many denominations within different religions. One dogma is a little too strict for the masses so an alternative is created. Most Jews aren't interested in being quite as dedicated as their orthodox brethren so a more user friendly version of Judaism was developed over time. Through the years different popes have made adjustments to Catholicism that have softened the Vatican's stance on issues ranging from fasting to birth control all though there are traditionalists within the church who resist the changes and adhere to the older and typically more stringent standards. I call them religiots. In Islam there are Shi'a and Sunni Muslims who share a basic religion but differ violently on the interpretation. Mostly it's on how to wire the explosives.
Protestant Christianity started with Martin Luther who essentially questioned the manner in which the Vatican was interpreting the bible, which is to say that catholic leaders were robbing all of Europe at bible-point. Those gilded pages can hurt! Once Lutheranism began others followed suit with Henry VIII starting the Anglican Church for the sole purpose of expediting divorces. The underlying theme in Christianity is basically if you don't like what the preacher's saying, start your own church.
Brigham Young didn't like the idea of being stuck with one woman for the rest of his life so he took Joe Smith's Book of Mormon and ran with it...all the way to Utah where he could marry as many women as he liked and nobody could do anything about it. Especially the women, who certainly didn't want to try their luck escaping into a desert. Of course the tradition was to marry girls. It wasn't uncommon for a 13-year-old girl to be married off to a 40 year-old man back then. Charming isn't it? And you thought Ringo was a pervert for singing to 16 year-old girls, didn't you?
For celebrities it's important to be different. Sure, traditionalists like Mel Gibson will opt to use a big budget movie to cram their religion down your throat...while making a couple of million bucks. Jesus had to love that. But for stars like Tom Cruise (who is not gay) and Madonna it's not enough to be passionate about a religion, they need something special to cling to. Something that people will talk about and has a flexible dogma so they won't burn in hell for their sins. Kabbalah and Scientology create a nice buzz and the theology is pliable enough to allow the celebrity to enjoy a lifestyle of shameless excess without feeling guilty. After all, most of the traditional religions don't make one feel too good about paying $300,000 for a caviar enema.
You see, Jesus wouldn't have jumped on Oprah's couch and gone out of his way to pass judgment on Brooke Shields. Of course Jesus probably wouldn't believe that there were microscopic aliens in his brain that needed to be audited by a professional Scientologist. So if Tom Cruise were forced to ask himself "What Would Jesus Do?" we wouldn't have been treated to his disturbing behavior. Poor Katie Homes, by the time Tom's done with her she won't have a brain left (not that she had much of one to start with). The Scientologists Tom consorts with will nuke the parts of her brain that allow for free thought and Katie will be reduced to a nice rack on a set of long legs. Or what is commonly referred to as Charlize Theron. How else do you explain Aeon Flux?
According to most genuine Kabbalahists, or whatever they call themselves, Madonna and her ilk aren't practicing anything they've ever heard of. Apparently celebrities dig the name and the bracelets, but pretty much make up everything else as they go. Nothing new there. It's always better to worship in word than to practice in deed. Easier anyway.
I shouldn't be too hard on celebrities because lots of people are stupid, but celebrities make the mistake of publicizing their foolishness. And it's not just religions either. Without a doubt the absolute worst parents in the world are celebrity parents. Oh yes they are. I'm not talking about Britney Spears driving around with her baby on her lap either. Let's be honest with ourselves here.
My parents raised four kids and I don't recall ever seeing a car seat. I remember sitting on my dad's lap while he let me steer the car down the road to our house. Ok, I was 29 but still...and I'm not alone because Bruce Springsteen sang about that very same experience in his hit My Hometown. Somewhere along the line we became obsessed with car seats and now you have to securely lock children in an approved car seat anytime you think about driving. Making matters worse is the fact that legislation is being passed to criminalize smoking in the car if kids are present. Now that's just asking for trouble. For millions of parents the only thing preventing them from throwing their screaming kids out of the car is soothing power of cigarettes. Remember Susan Smith? Her kids are dead for two reasons. They were locked in car seats and mom was out of smokes. Had my parents not smoked on some of the longer trips I suspect that none of us would have made it out of childhood alive. As it was Mom and Dad only bumped off two of us. That's restraint.
And let's think about what we're getting upset with. Britney and Kevin's spawn. Britney's even taken flack for smoking around her kid. So? Do we really want that unholy munchkin growing up to plague us? No! So I say to Brit: Drive on momma. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. You've come a long way, baby! And treat yourself to a cold one, honey. It's Miller Time. Same goes for Michael Jackson. Insanity is genetic. Odds are that Wacko Jacko's kid is going to make him look as normal as grilled cheese. So bomb's away, right? I know it's mean, but kids die everyday... why not eliminate the future maniacs?
No, Britney's not that bad a mommy. Yet. The worst act of celebrity child abuse has to be in the naming of the children. Chances are the kids are going to be pretty screwed up anyway, given the fact that the parents aren't exactly stable in most cases, but then the poor tyke has to get saddled with a terrible name. Unique is always cool, and some celebrities hit home runs with names their kids will undoubtedly be proud of. Forrest Whitaker took that leap and landed successfully naming his kids Ocean, True and Sonnet, but My Name is Earl star Jason Lee should have the paperwork ready to change his child's moniker from the wacky Pilot Inspektor to something a little more grounded like Booger.
Gwen Paltrow and her overrated Sting-wannabe husband Chris Martin dubbed their first brat Apple and promise to name their second yard-ape something even more unique. I was thinking Pear since Mango was already purloined by Saturday Night Live and Banana would cause interstellar chaos if somebody tried to slide it into the name game song. Banana Fana Banana...AHHH! Perhaps they'll depart from the produce theme and opt for something smooth like Velveeta. Maybe food is too obvious and they'll shock us with something more industrial like Impact Wrench. I just hope they don't take Charmin. I was saving that one for my first child because I want people to think twice about squeezing my baby.
Bruce Willis and Demi Moore didn't do too much damage with Rumor and Scout. I don't like the names because the reference is too obvious, but those kids won't end up in a mental institution. Tallulah, however, is a bad name in spite of the fact that it has some tradition to it. That kid is going to end up being one of those Kindergarten teachers who is always two steps behind the kids. Or she'll be a spiritual advisor based out of a Boise trailer park. Sadly there are simply some names that need to die. Bertha(Butt), Eunice (Eww!), Guido(Seriously!), etc. Madonna reached into that well and saddled her son with Rocco which guarantees him a career as a either brutish nightclub bouncer or, if we're being ironic, he'll be a high strung interior decorator with a heavy lisp and a flowery personality. Either live up to the name or completely rebel against it. Diane Keaton took old names that should be forgotten a step further by dubbing a daughter Dexter. Look, Dexter's a fine name for a dreadlocked Jamaican bartender on the seedy side of the Kingston strip, but somebody as pretentious as Diane Keaton can't breed a kid cool enough to pull it off. Boys names for girls can work if the name is classic or artistic or even a little androgynous, but Dexter isn't one of them. Not by a long shot.
In all honesty, I firmly believe that these names are made up to mislead the public. I can't believe that so many people are selfish enough to pick names that only serve to draw more attention to the parents. Think about it. What did Tom Hanks name his kid? I have no idea. I didn't know what Goldie Hawn named her kid until Kate Hudson became a star in her own right. The fact is we don't talk about celebrity spawn unless the stars opt for an outlandish name. Apple might not be a great name for Paltrow's kid, but Gwen sure got some mileage out of that name, didn't she? In fact, the only reason anybody is even talking about Paltrow is because she named her kid Apple. Brilliant publicity move, but don't color me stunned when a 300 pound Apple shows up on Oprah in 20 years to whine about her horrible life named after a fruit. If only they would have named me after a specific apple, like Gala or Fuji! I would have had an identity. WAAH!
It can't be real. People can't be that shallow. Not that many people anyway.The documentation is forged and the stars are able to provide their children with a degree of anonymity. That's a good thing. Kids shouldn't have to grow up hounded by the images of their parents. Look what happened to Chastity Bono. She's fat, butch and humiliating herself on Celebrity Fit Club. Mom's hot, I'm not and the whole world's gonna know it. Nice. Cher should have spent a little less time banging roadies and a little more time being a mom, don't you think? Should have anyway. And Chastity isn't even one of those potentially hot lesbians, like the ones in adult movies...the kind her mom would be. It's almost as though Chastity chose to become a boy because her mother has such an unhealthy infatuation with them. Do you love me now?
Of course, celebrities aren't the only people to screw up their kids. Regular folks do it all the time. They try to be different and create alternate spellings of common names or they go with the arrogant angle and name their kids after themselves. Tradition schmadtion. Caesar is a salad, not a name.
Brandy and Debbie are fine, but if you fool around and try to go with Brandee or Debbi you'll seal your daughter's fate as a porn queen. Names like Tawny and Bambi are like pornography scholarships. Amy is a fine name but Aimee will find herself sleeping with every member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity before the end of her freshman year. And look out for Rhea. Some pronounce it "RAY" some go with "RIA" but it's spelled "RIA" and it doesn't take long for kids to connect the name with other things that sound like "RIA". Boys are influenced by names too. Tom is a good name, but if you insist on keeping that "h" in there and the boy grows up as Thom he'll be a female impersonator. Kyle, Seth and Bruce all carry a certain cachet. And cachet is something you don't want your boy having.
I'm not implying that there's anything wrong with being gay, but you don't want your son growing up to be prissy. I'm very open-minded when it comes to sexual orientation but I want my kids to be no less than equal partners in their relationships and I prefer if they are the more dominant force. If that means junior grows up to be a top then so be it.
I've seen Tequila in use and I don't think that's a good way to go. I suppose Brandy is derived from a beverage as well but Brandy is refined and the name has been around for a long time. Tequila has a different image than Brandy. You simply don't see Brandy in those border town bars that feature a nightly donkey show, but there's always lots of Tequila. Of course high power types like to stick their cigars in Brandy so I suppose there's a trade off.
Other names parents go with are begging for trouble. Deuce is vogue now, particularly in the black community, but it rhymes with douche. Sure, if your boy grows up to be a NFL star there's no problem but if he's not very athletic he'll spend his formative years getting the snot kicked out of him on a daily basis. And don't get me started on Tre.
Hey Mike, what do you carry your lunch on?
I don't know.
You put it on a tray!
Then the food gets dumped on a kid's head, everybody laughs and Tre grows up to become a sadistic murderer. It happens. Remember the Columbine shootings? There's so much in a name.
The point I'm making (or making up for the sake of closure) is that you don't have to go to such extremes to make a fool of yourself or your kids. Simply being an active parent will humiliate your children more than any name ever could and if you feel the need to abuse them then smack them around every once in while. Once you've had your fun and they grow up, it's only fair that they not be saddled with some awful name for the rest of their lives.
As for fringe religions and cults, you don't need to seek out strange new spiritual organizations to feel like you're being manipulated, join a book club, a gym or activate a Sierra Club membership. You get the same experience of being taken advantage of without coming across as some sort of misguided freak in desperate need of salvation.