Last night, people who make hundreds of millions of dollars were telling the rest of us to break out our checkbooks and fulfill our moral obligation to the tsunami victims. Tonight, those same people will don ridiculously expensive clothes and jewelry, and congratulate themselves for being rich and famous in a lavish, wasteful display.
Oh sure, the tsunami tragedy will be part of the ceremony. There will be ribbons of a certain color on everyone's gown or tux, pleas for us to remember the victims during acceptance speeches, and a studied solemnity when speaking of our brothers and sisters in Asia.
But the spectacle will go on, and the Golden Globes will celebrate the same things it always has: wealth, excess, greed, and incredibly misplaced adulation.
In his last "Monday Night at Morton's" column for E! Online, Ben Stein asked America to take another look at who we consider our heroes:
How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model?
I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.
Last night, celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Johnny Depp answered the phones and took pledges when people called 1-800-HELPNOW. I don't doubt their sincerity or compassion; many of them have made sizeable donations to the relief effort. But let's remember what $1 million is to someone who makes that, many times over, for a few weeks of work.
If you give a homeless person a $10 bill, are you a hero, or are you just doing what you should?
1-800. Help Now.