Actor Seth Rogen, who specializes in playing likable, though often stoned, shlubs in Hollywood comedies (except when he was cast as the Green Hornet, which everyone would rather pretend never happened), came to Capitol Hill to testify about the need for more research into the causes and prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. His testimony was to the point and heart-felt—his late mother began showing symptoms of the illness in her fifties—and read from prepared text in a flat and formal tone rather than actorly flair. Rogen, however, was apparently seething was anger: after he was introduced, only two Senators on the committee stuck around for the show. Later he tweeted peevishly:
Get the hook:
- U.S. Senators have better uses of their time than to listen to prepared testimony (of a general, anecdotal nature, no less) being read to them when they can read the same content later while on the toilet later, or summarized into three sentences by a staffer who’s paid to do such tasks.
- The Senator’s physical absence says absolutely nothing about the priority of Alzheimer’s. That’s an unfair and inaccurate characterization, based on ignorance and ego. Rogen doesn’t know how his own government operates. Such testimony is for the cameras, reporters and staffers, not the Senators themselves.
- Who is Seth Rogen to demand full attention of a Senate committee? In fact, who is Seth Rogen that he should be called to testify at all on this topic? He has no special expertise, no more than literally millions of other American’s who have dealt with the illness striking a family member. He has nothing of substance to contribute to the issue.
- Like too many performers who exist in Hollywood’s helium bubble, Rogen seems to confuse celebrity with merit. Earlier, he expressed pique when Sen. Tom Harkin introduced him while noting that he had never seen Rogen’s break-out film, “Knocked-Up.” Matt Berman of the National Journal wrote, “If you’re going to bring actor Seth Rogen in to testify at your Senate hearing, you should probably be familiar with his material.” Why is that, Matt? What do “Pineapple Express,” “This is the End,” and “Knocked-Up” have to do with Alzheimer’s, other than the fact the illness might improve the likelihood of some of the Senators enjoying them? Rogen isn’t there as a dignitary or a legitimate authority; he’s there as “generic movie star to bring the public’s attention to a Congressional hearing that it would never pay any attention to whatsoever without someone they know from watching Entertainment Tonight.” It’s a degrading, cynical tactic that has actresses who have played farmers testifying about farming issues and Comedy Central comics treating Congress like it’s a stand-up club. Rogen ought to have been honored that he had the bucket list experience of appearing before a Senate Committee; instead he got in a snit because the Senators aren’t fans.
Our elected leaders ought to recognize that the celebrity culture is an unhealthy development for the country, making the public increasingly inattentive, trivial and distracted, and corrupting it with role models who aren’t up to the job. Using actors to play the roles of experts makes the problem worse. It also creates confusion between what is real and what isn’t. Peggy Noonan noted in a recent column that instead of countering this trend, members of Congress are embracing it and contributing to it, as when they agree to play themselves on the Netflix series “House of Cards.” :
“House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity. Or maybe they’re just stupid.
No comment. At least, however, they are smart enough to know that there is no point in wasting time listening to Seth Rogen talk about Alzheimer’s.
Graphics: Stoner Things