Monday, April 30, 2007

As the Crow Flaps

It's been quite a week for singer/environmental activist Cheryl Crow.
First, she and her eco-buddy Laurie David got into a head-on collision with Republican Party political overlord Karl Rove at a White House correspondents dinner Saturday night that went something like this:
Crow and David, upon meeting Rove, urge him to take "a fresh look" at global warming.
"I honestly thought that I was going to change his mind, like, right there and then," David tells the Associated Press, revealing the depth of her political sophistication.
Both celebrities were guests of news organizations: Crow invited by Bloomberg News and David by CNN.
At one point, according to the celebrities, Crow touches Rove's arm and "Karl swung around and spat, 'Don't touch me.' "
"You can't speak to us like that, you work for us," Crow claims to have responded.
"I don't work for you, I work for the American people,' says Rove.
"We are the American people," says Crow."
"She came over to insult me," Rove says, "and she succeeded."
OK, these little misunderstandings sometimes occur, especially when influential and powerful egos get together over drinks. All is not lost, however. Crowe gets some publicity even while her cause gets lost in the hubbub.
Undaunted by her failed attempt to turn Rove into a tree hugger, Crow recently offered a couple of save-the-planet suggestions on her website that sounded like they came straight from Saturday Night Live.
"I propose a limitation be put on how many sqares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting," she wrote. "Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required."
And then, in game of can-you-top-this, she said she advocates "not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefullness".
Crow said she has designed what she calls her "dining sleeve" - a detachable contrivance which offers the user "the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product". Crow's hairbrained ideas on environmental activism brought her face-to-face with the biggest media frenzy she has faced since she split from Lance Armstrong.
The press had a field day. Tabloids made it front page news. I actually saw several commentators on cable TV soberly discuss her toilet paper propsal as if it was a pending congressional initiative.
Crow later said she was only joking.
Maybe. Maybe not. But it says something about celebrity/activists that we believed she just might be serious.
There are plenty of celebs out there who are using their visibilty to do good deeds. Bono, Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, have all plunged headlong into righting some of the world's wrongs. They follow in the footsteps of Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye and Elizabeth Taylor, among others.
But many go overboard. Others support liberal causes, or misery chic as some call it, which makes them suspect in the minds of many. America still suffers a hangover from a double shot of Jane Fonda.
Others -- Madonna comes to mind --- talk more than they know.
Cheryl Crow is a fine performer who unfortunately has confused activism with stand up comedy. Does she seriously think that making outlandish statements will actually promote serious discussion of global warming and environmental change? Does she think she can convert Karl Rove at a cocktail party?
For whatever good intentions she may have, Crow now teeters on the edge of joining the mostly ignored. And that would be a shame on such an important issue.

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