Good evening Mr. & Mrs. Catholic, and all you other Christians at sea. Under the banner of "today's gossip is tomorrow's Bible study", the Newsreel has always taken a sarcastically humorous look at the craziness surrounding the world of celebrity culture. But not everything s funny. Now off to press.
Back in August, the Newsreel reported on an accident which occurred during the filming of Tom Cruise's latest work in progress Valkyrie in which a number of extras were injured. Although the courts eventually ruled that the extras themselves were at fault, the Newsreel took issue with the German government's handling of the press release which amounted to "nobody of any importance was harmed in the incident." We are more impressed with Warner Brothers recent response to another incident, as reported by Variety, in which a special effects technician was killed while working on the upcoming Batman: The Dark Knight. "The studio said producers, cast and crew "are deeply saddened by this tragedy and their hearts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased." To that we can only add our own prayers for the technician himself, "In company with Christ, Who died and now lives, may he rejoice in Your kingdom, where all our tears are wiped away."
The accident itself appears to have been a freak occurrence rather than a result of reckless behavior, but when combined with a completely unrelated story, it caused us here at the Newsreel to pause and think. Buried in the Hollywood After Dark section of the National Enquirer website is a small snippet which reads in it's entirety, "We found Mary-Kate Olsen celebrating her new legal drinking age status by downing glass after glass of champagne with a group of pals at Hyde Sept. 19. MK was chain-smoking at her table." It is public knowledge that Ms. Olsen has spent time in rehab for anorexia nervosa and a rumored drug problem, but the question arises, why did we need to know about her recent night out? Obviously we at the Newsreel can never condone excesses or self-abuse, but we have to wonder what kind of stresses are unduly placed on celebrities who can't even spend an evening out without some paparazzi sitting at the next table with a notepad and camera counting their drinks and waiting for a mistake to happen.
The Catechism reminds us that "the means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media." Without question, we at The B-Movie Catechism are inveterate consumers of mass media. But we always strive to keep our entertainment in its proper place and prospective. Let us say that someone like Whoopi Goldberg says something stupid in a public forum. This is fair game to comment on. But if she says it at a dinner table with friends, then we as consumers have no right to have the conversation taped and played back to us just to feed our desire for more celebrity news. As in the case of Ms. Olsen, doing so may even pressure a person to sin further. Do we even need to provide a quote from the Catechism here? As for the story involving the death of the technician, while this particular incident turned out to be an accident, we must be vigilant as consumers that our desire to view ever more dangerous stunts and breath-taking images do not pressure those in the entertainment industry to overstep their training and risk their own health and safety. Even in our casual viewing we must not become passive in our awareness of the temporal and spiritual consequences of our actions.
We're not too often given to screeds here at the Newsreel, so we thank everyone for their forbearance. Assuming that we've ever been funny to begin with, we promise to be so again next time. For now, we'll end as always with the words of the great Les Nessman. Good evening, and may the good news be yours.