Although I am the Designated Knower of all things pop-cultural in the Fire Direction Center, I do try and avoid the seamier and sleazier aspects of our celebritized and overexposed culture. This is not easy, since it seems that the entire point of the "news" media is to inform the innocent bystander of every conceivable detail of the doings social, emotional and venereal, of the Rich and the Famous.
And, although I truly enjoy the movies, I usually don't feel any kinship with or prurient interest in the lives of the pretty people who act in them. For all that the glossy magazines try to convince me that I really know these people they are truly strangers; what I "know" of them is largely the fictions that they, their publicists, the tabloid press and their more obsessive followers create for the rest of us groundlings. Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of the Cult of Celebrity is this faux intimacy with people we do not and never really will know anything about.
That said, I do come across various bits of "celebrity gossip" in my peregrinations through the newswires, and I ran across this nasty bit of work today on msn.com; "Jesse James Apologizes To Sandra Bullock, Hopes For Forgiveness".
It caught my eye for two reasons; one, that a notorious 19th century outlaw thought to have been shot dead by that "rotten little coward" Robert Ford in 1882 was sorry for anything other than not being dead and, two, that Sandy Bullock was involved somehow.
As much as I can be said to be "interested" in celebrities, Bullock is one of the few who interests me. She seems - for that is all I can judge her by, her public persona - to be a vivacious, emotionally alert, quick and animated person. She is, of course, physically attractive, that being a requirement for her employment. She has made some enjoyable films but for the most part she's gone from playing in one awful dog to another. She's been in some truly terrible movies and done poorly playing in them, and that's not even counting "Speed 2: Floaty Boaty" or whatever the hell they called the stinker.
And now the poor woman is tied to the public pillory of "betrayed wife".
I had some notion that she had formed an alliance with some sort of tattooed lad, one of these (to me) inexplicably inescapable "bad boy" type guys, who turns out to be the not-dead, not-outlaw Mr. James. Said bad boy is being accused of doing what bad boys often do, namely sinking passing tuna boats with his little pink torpedo.
At which point, the unmarried-to-Sandra-Bullock male just has to ask:
"Dude! Are you fucking NUTS!? Are you smoking crack? Are you taking the spike straight in the jugular vein?"
You're married to this woman who is so physically beautiful that she makes her living being physically beautiful. She is capable of being so lovable and charming that she has charmed and become beloved of millions of other poor schlobs, many of them more attractive and wealthier than you. You are legally entitled, indeed, both legally and socially enjoined, to enjoy physical and emotional intimacy with this beautiful, vivacious, charming woman.
Which serves to point up several home truths about people in general, men in particular and "Jesse James" as an individual.
1. We know less than we ever thought we did or think we do about anyone.
If a homely schlub like James can throw away any hopes of remaining intimate with a woman that - at least from the outside - seems as ideal as Bullock, then there is no hope for understanding what brings and holds men and women together.
Or, possibly, it is a judgment (again) on celebrities and the place they hold in our culture. Because the only reason I can see doing this other than pure stupid horniness is if Sandra Bullock is a really wretched person emotionally; violent, angry, dismissive, ignorant, boring, unstable...whose initial attraction was her looks and the fake intimacy that this guy James thought he had with her. And, on closer acquaintance, who turned out to be quite another, much nastier, less lovable person.
Is the story true? Is it made up by an attention-seeking woman who doesn't care who she hurts in her quest for fame?
Who knows? I certainly don't. But the thing is...neither do you or the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker...and yet "Entertainment Tonight" tells you all that you do.
So what looks obvious - tattooed lad cheats on adorable wife with tattooed skank-ho - may be anything but.
2. If this idiot did manage to poke a hole in his marriage with his johnson he won't be the last, and he wasn't the first, to throw away something worthwhile - assuming it was, and if not, why marry the woman when the old prohibitions against intimacy have fallen? You want sex, you want to "be with" Sandra Bullock, gorgeous movie star? Why not? But why promise her your truth, and your singularity, and then follow your ignorant tumescence into a cheap and nasty affair with some drive-by harlot?
(Or, hell, a scented sorority sister, for that matter? Our girl "Bombshell" makes things looks nastier than they are by looking like a skank. But, really, does it and should it matter who was playing hide-the-chopper with ol' Jess? The point here isn't about the sex - it's about making a promise and then breaking it with malice aforethought. You're not getting done for adultery, James, but for being a lying, cheating skeeve.
You want to screw around? Fine - go to the old lady, 'fess up, let her enjoy kicking your ass out and following it with all your stuff before you go looking for trim.)
It's because - and I know I've said this here before; we are goddam idiots where sex is concerned. And I think it has a LOT to do with the whole way we wrap sex up in secrets, hide it and make it undiscussable and untouchable, instead of a part of what we want and, especially, hopefully, what we want to do with someone we carfe about.
I think if we were a little less goofy about it we might have less trouble with it.
Or maybe not - powerful thing, lust. One of the Seven Deadly Sins, y'know. Who knows what happened in the James/Bullock house that brought these two people here.
And - beyond the sadness that we are invited in to peep at their unhappiness - what's sad is that, regardless of what happened, one of the two, the one with the busy little penis, may have responded by going out and thrashing the mattress with a woman whose idea of post-coital melancholy is to go flog the story of their illicit friction to the nearest tabloid half a year after is supposedly ended? Who claims to be too dumb to know her supposed lover is still married?
Only the couple and the other woman - if that is what she is - know the truth, and all of them may not know all the truth. But the way things seem, either Bombshell is a galactic-class liar, Sandra must have been a pretty unlikeable - or even un-lust-able - person, or ol' Jesse James is perhaps the dumbest goddam not-dead, not-outlaw to ever drew breath.
And I feel dirty just knowing it.