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.
Sources: New York Daily News, National Journal, WSJ, Twitter
Graphics: Stoner Things
17 thoughts on “Seth Rogen’s Celebrity Hissy Fit And Congress’s Celebrity Cynicism”
I was enthused to hear his testimony- I’m a fan, and figured he would give flair and gravitas to his points that no epidemiologist or Psychiatrist reading technical data ever could. I was disappointed at his flat book-reading.
That said, when did it become a thing that we brought in random celebrities to talk about things to congress? It’s not a brand-new phenomenon, Mr. Rogers was testifying about the benefits of allowing VCRs to record TV programs way back when, and that’s just the oldest example I can think of off the top of my head. Even so, at least Rogen is an actual person with a story to tell and a point to make, celebrity stunt-testemony reached its nadir with Elmo.
How can you say that Fred Rogers didn’t have anything to contribute? Actually he appeared in front of the Senate for PBS funding. And his appeal got the budget for PBS more than doubled.
Yes, he appeared for a funding appeal, which isn’t what I was talking about at all. He also appeared as part of the debate over VCR technology, in which part of his appeal was that his show could be recorded and children and their parents could watch it together when they had time, rather than being enslaved by a TV schedule.
Also way to put words in my mouth. I didn’t say Rogers had nothing to contribute, any more than Rogen had nothing to contribute. Neither of them are experts in the field, though- Rogen just had an anecdote about what it’s like to have a relative with Alzheimer’s. Rogers just had the concept that it would be nice to let parents and kids watch his show at their leisure. What makes either of them an expert? Rogen’s not a neuroscientist. Rogers wasn’t a scholar of copy protection law.
It sound like the hearing was a farce. If all the important information can be obtained otherwise, do not spend money and time in the pretend conversation. If there is going to be a hearing, experts and senators should be there in order to actually increase expertise.
Rogen is wrong on many things, but he does have one point: he was invited to testify and then treated rudely by his hosts.
Yeah, hearings involve questions and answers. Questions which only an expert could handle on the fly.
And, tit-for-tat, he responded rudely. He didn’t know the rules of the game he was playing, that’s all. Someone should have explained it to him. He’s not there to enlighten the Senators, and he should have known better. Does he realize that much of the time when they are making speeches in the Senate, their colleagues aren’t present? Apparently not. It’s not rudeness. It’s the Senate.
To quote a line from “Gettysburg”:
“We move on word of an actor?”
No. No, we don’t. A community that takes it’s policy making function seriously, an wishes to engage in deliberative, non-emotion based, rational discourse on policy does not listen to celebrities, who at their best still gain their credence from a life spent pretending and a life spent entertaining. Not efforts that have no value to the community, but certainly efforts that do not lend rational credibility to them. So no, serious people of authority do not move on word of actors.
Oh wait, what am I thinking…. Of course we listen to people who fake for a living. What an idiotic thing of me to say. In fact Rogan was completely right in his indignation.
It’s a wonder I don’t cry myself to sleep at night.
Too sleepy to do so, I think.
That or I labor under the notion that only a fool like me believes that there is greater power that will someday set things back to a pre-Fall condition, but that in the meantime the best we can do is treat those immediately around us like we want to be treated while simultaneously being content that if the only good we can achieve is providing for our children and spouses and instilling good character in them, then that is good enough.
Thanks to Luke, I just corrected my misspelling of Seth’s name. I apparently thought he was related to Joe Rogan, or something. Sorry Seth….don’t send a mean tweet about me. I really liked “Knocked Up”.
I wouldn’t fret about a possible tweet from Rogan. He’s probably more preoccupied with his upcoming Oscar seating arrangement. Then again, if he sends you a smarmy tweet, maybe somebody in Congress will tap you to become an adviser or something. 😉
Now, hang on. They no more honoured him than he them; neither is particularly worthy.
Ah, but bucket lists are in the eye of the beholder. (Boy, is THAT mixed metaphor…)
Seth Rogen interview following his Senate appearance: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/showbiz/2014/02/28/exp-lead-intv-seth-rogen-full-alzheimers-senate-congress.cnn.html
I find the fact that most of the committee skipped out on Tom Harkin’s “extra special guest star” at least a bit encouraging. Certainly, any one of those senators had better things to do than fraternize with a second string film actor about an issue that the guest was only marginally familiar with. Staying would have been a waste of time. Rogan’s career is, too!
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