Smoke is coming out of first lady Hillary Clinton’s ears over a new Hollywood movie.
No, unlike her husband, Bill, she’s not angry over the way “Contact” filmmakers cleverly wove actual news footage of the president’s speech about the possibility of primitive life on Mars into the fictional drama about more advanced extraterrestrial life elsewhere in the universe.
And she’s not steamed about the way the president was pushed around in “Air Force One.” No, apparently, the first couple liked that film — reveling in the heroic portrayal of a very fictional modern-day chief executive.
Surprisingly, she’s also not upset with the entertainment industry’s offensive language, general vulgarity, increasing sexual content or even its gratuitous violence.
No. What’s got Hillary Clinton bugged — really worked up — is the way Julia Robert’s character smokes cigarettes in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” I’m not kidding.
She “smokes when she’s upset. She smokes when she’s tired. She smokes when she’s happy. In fact, she seems to smoke throughout the movie,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in her weekly newspaper column last week.
Hillary, who saw the movie in the White House theater, called Roberts’ portrayal “troubling,” because cigarettes are increasingly popular with young women.
She was also steamed about the fact that Will Smith celebrated each “Independence Day” victory against invading aliens by lighting a cigar.
“Movie stars who puff away on the screen equate smoking with status, power, confidence and glamour,” she wrote.
Now, imagine you’re one of the most influential women in the world. You have a bully pulpit like no other in the world. Granted, very few people actually read your syndicated column, which is usually filled with self-serving pap. But, if you really wanted to express moral outrage about a meaty issue, there’s no question that your pronouncements would get some attention.
So, what do you choose to get indignant about? Smoking in the movies. Not in the movie theater, mind you. But on the screen.
Let’s think about this. Think about all of the horrors being perpetrated around the world at any given moment: People are being persecuted for the religious beliefs. Women are being forced to have abortions in the name of government-sponsored population control. Slavery is on the rise — both in the gulags of powerful totalitarian regimes and in backward African nations. You have ethnic cleansing, famine, plague, war, poverty, government repression, terrorism, drugs, crime, the breakup of the family unit, nuclear proliferation, illiteracy. I could go on and on, of course.
Which of these genuine crises do you choose as your pet peeve? None of them. Instead, you choose to scold Hollywood actors for doing what they’re paid millions of dollars to do — follow the script.
I’m not suggesting Hollywood doesn’t have a powerful — and, often, negative — influence on our culture. In fact, for years I wrote a syndicated column myself about just that issue. There’s plenty of stuff for which the entertainment industry deserves to be scolded, ridiculed, humiliated. But is smoking tops on the list? Is it even close to the top?
Every time I go to the movies, these days, I’m repulsed by the number of children I see viewing totally inappropriate material. There’s no question it is having an impact on our society. You can hear it in the language kids use, the clothes they wear and the way they act.
Smoking is hardly the worst thing Julia Roberts has done on the big screen. Doesn’t the first lady remember “Pretty Woman”? In that film, she glamorized the life of a Hollywood street hooker — one who ends up catching a millionaire played by Richard Gere. Wasn’t that role model just a teensy bit worse than a character who smokes?
Apparently, none of these contradictions is of concern to the first lady — an example of a person who has totally lost her moral perspective. The worst thing that anyone could do, as far as she’s concerned, is puff on a cigar or cigarette.
Her ethical superficiality is surpassed only by her myopic hypocrisy. Has she noticed that her husband — the most powerful man in the world — also smokes cigars?
Before Hillary Clinton lectures the rest of us about morality, could I suggest that she gets her own house in order?