When I was in elementary school, I remember reading about an Indian tribe that had a pretty distinct way of dealing with their elderly. They would take them out into the wilds of the forest and leave them there to die. Because in this particular culture, any person who became feeble or needy was considered a burden to the rest of the tribe. So instead of caring for these aging individuals through their “Golden Years,” they cut their losses and ran. I even remember the colorful illustration used to demonstrate the idea. It was of a young Indian boy pulling his Grandmother on a sleigh through the snow. In the distance, we could see a dense forest where the young man would presumably deposit his cargo. I can only imagine how uncomfortable that kind of good-bye would be.
“Nice visiting with you, Grandma. Hope you don’t get eaten by the wolves. Bye!”
The practice seemed so outlandish to me that I thought it was a joke. And yet, sometimes I wonder if a slightly altered version of this idea might not be beneficial in today’s celebrity obsessed society. For example, wouldn’t it be great to never have to see Paris Hilton again? True, she’s a little young to be put out to Pasture, but could we please put her out of the spotlight? Take her out to some forest somewhere, drop her off, and be done with it. And if the wolves get her, so be it.
I bring this up, because I recently witnessed Christopher Walken host an uncomfortably long and unfunny episode of “Saturday Night Live” in which he read off cue cards for the entire show. Not only that, but he didn’t even read them well. And he rarely, if ever, turned to the actor he was supposed to be talking to. The fact that you could literally see him reading all his lines made me wonder why they ever allowed him to host the show in the first place. Was someone else too busy? I know Mr. Walken has been very successful hosting SNL in the past, but it seems the genre should no longer be a part of his resume. (To add insult to injury, SNL showed the same horrible episode two weeks later, as if a repeat of the disaster might warrant it an instant classic.)
While it’s true I’ve never really been a fan of Christopher Walken, I understand why other people might find his odd, disjointed delivery of dialogue fascinating. However, if you’ve ever worked with the Meisner Technique in an acting class, you’ll realize Mr. Walken never progressed past Lesson One. Just because you put a pause in a weird place in the middle of the sentence does not make you an exceptional actor. Especially if you use the same tired technique in every role you’ve ever played. Which always made me wonder—is Mr. Walken really talented, or is society just desperate for a new method of speaking?
At any rate, I would put Mr. Walken on my list of actors needing a little trip to the forest. Not that I’m suggesting anyone leave him there to die, but perhaps enrolling him in a nice Summer Camp for Seniors or committing him to a Rest Home for the Syllabically Challenged might be good alternatives.
On a completely different note, does anyone really know what’s “Straight Up” with Paula Abdul? After her recent “mishap” this week on “American Idol,” you have to wonder if the paint isn’t beginning to crack a little on this well-known celebrity. For years, there’s been speculation about Paula’s mental health, as well as her “alleged” reliance on drugs and/or alcohol to keep her going. But Tuesday night’s “weirdness” reached a whole new level of bizarre. When Paula began critiquing singers on their second song before they’d even sung it, the credibility of both the star and the show were brought into question. Was she confused? Was she drunk? Or did she have some kind of out-of-body experience that magically projected her into the future? (I’m betting on the latter.)
Whatever the case, Paula was not on her game that night. She appeared particularly distracted and confused, and even more “Lost” than the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. Perhaps like Christopher Walken, Paula is ready for her sled ride to oblivion. After all, it’s always better to go out when you’re on top, than when people get tired of your antics. Unfortunately, in both of the above cases, the celebrity in question is totally oblivious to their own oblivion. (Maybe Hallmark should make a card for such an occasion. Like a “Happy Retirement” card with a projected expiration date. That way, we can put fading celebrities out of their misery long before they make us miserable watching them fade.)
But that’s just me. What celebrity would you like put out to pasture?