It’s Hard Being a Rich American Celebrity Abroad
Oh, the burdens of cruising the French Riviera while feeling ashamed of your country and president! Just ask Will Smith.
July 1, 2008 - 9:40 am
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to wading in the Hollywood cesspool, another witless celebrity decides to trash America.
Will Smith is the latest overpaid navel-gazer to join the “Embarrassed to Be a Rich American Celebrity Tour.” On a recent Today Show appearance to hawk his upcoming movie Hancock — which, if this report is correct, is likely to be a box office disaster — Smith had this to say about his recent travels abroad:
You know I just, I just came back from Moscow, Berlin, London, and Paris and it’s the first, I’ve been there quite a few times in the past five to 10 years. And it just hasn’t been a good thing to be American. And this is the first time, since Barack has gotten the nomination, that it, it was a good thing.
Yup. That dastardly George W. Bush has made life incredibly difficult for the jet set. Imagine having to hide your face in shame every time you travel to Europe just because holier-than-thou Europeans think that since they don’t like your president, you shouldn’t either. It must really put a cramp in your ability to enjoy luxuries like private jet travel, expensive hotels, and fine wines. Oh, the horror.
I too know the burdens of exotic travel: I just came back from a whirlwind trip to the next town over, where I got the window in my car fixed at the dealership.
It does surprise me that Smith refers to being relieved of his embarrassment in Berlin, considering that country has moved to ban Scientology, something Smith has been dabbling in for some time now. Is the German government’s move to ban a, er, religion — in light of Germany’s history of religious tolerance — something the Germans should be embarrassed about when they travel abroad? Perhaps the next time I see a German tourist I’ll ask in somber tones, “What do you think about your government banning Scientology?” in the same manner so many Europeans like to ask Americans, “What do you think about your president?” and if you reply in a positive manner they stare at you as though you have just sprouted a second nose.
But I digress.
When I hear that Smith, who has climbed the ladder of incredible success over the past ten or fifteen years, says it’s not a “good thing to be American” just because the current president is unpopular, I get really steamed. How have Bush’s decisions while in the White House affected Smith’s ability to work and live the life that most of us can only dream of? If Smith and his cronies are “embarrassed” when they see the snooty folks at the Cannes Film Festival and other such gatherings, I have this to say: hard cheese.
My husband wonders why I bother to get all worked up over incidents like this. And every time I do, I swear it will be the last time I waste my breath. But then I hear things like Smith’s comment and I get all hot under the collar again. Why? Because it really galls me that American celebrities, our unofficial ambassadors, feel like they have to go around denouncing the country that gave them the opportunities for the exceedingly good careers and lives they enjoy. Despite the fact that I believe history will be much kinder to George W. Bush than his contemporaries are, you don’t have to agree with Bush’s policies or even like the man to be proud to be an American. Despite any missteps throughout our history, we are responsible for much good in the world, and more people are clamoring to get in than to get out. That says more about how horrible America is than anything the chattering classes in Europe can come up with any day of the week.
So I say this to Will: you think it hasn’t been good to be an American for the last few years? Try being a citizen of Zimbabwe, where people are starving to death due to the ham-fisted management of a brutal dictator and being killed if they dare oppose his policies. I hear North Korea is nice; they have a great new diet over there: eating grass. Or how about living in Cuba, which has been frozen in time for nearly fifty years and where political opponents of the “president” are tossed into prison for speaking up? And perhaps on a lesser scale but still alarming, how about being a citizen of the UK, where the impossibility of finding a dentist on the national health plan has led to some people, out of desperation, pulling out their own teeth, and where the government wants to inspect what parents pack in their children’s school lunch boxes — and if it doesn’t meet government standards, it might be confiscated and stern warnings sent home to Mum and Dad.
It shouldn’t take the installation of a new president — which happens every four and sometimes eight years, like clockwork — to restore your pride in being an American. And if it’s really that bad, one of the other great things about this country is that if you want to leave, no one’s stopping you.