!!!Things That REALLY Piss Me Off
(The responsibility of celebrity….and those who have it)
​​I’ve always wondered why so many celebrities think their fame gives them special license to publicly endorse products and push for causes they want us to support. I mean if Donald Trump did a TV ad endorsing Wanda’s Wart and Irritating Personality Removing Salve, and the same day you first saw the ad your closest friend Dolores told you that the product was overpriced and worthless, who would you believe? Donald or Dolores? No contest, right? And that’s because, as your close friend, Dolores has some skin the game and isn’t likely to intentionally mislead you. But on the other hand, you can be sure that either Trump is being paid handsomely to say something good about the product, or he has a financial stake in the company….or maybe both!   

So why do so many people tend to follow the lead of celebrities? For example, how about Tiger Woods’ TV ad for Buick? Oh, wait a minute. I believe that’s the same Tiger Woods who had an adulterous affair (or should that be “affairs”?). Maybe not a good example. So how about Jane Fonda who did ads for L’Oreal cosmetics and the Jane Fonda Work Out? Mmm….sorry. I think that’s another bad example. Didn’t she go over to North Vietnam (the enemy) at the height of the Viet Nam war and (from their capital city of Hanoi) give a broadcast deriding what the American government was doing? Okay, so maybe that’s not the best example either. But then there was Richard Nixon speaking in a TV ad in which he attested to the quality of Memorex audio tapes. (Now you can’t tell me that’s not a really good one!) Anyway, what Donald Trump may really think about Wanda’s Wart and Irritating Personality Remover Salve is significantly compromised by his financial incentive to say whatever it takes to sell it to you and countless others who may also be watching the ad. So again I ask the question, can you think of even one legitimate reason why you should believe anything celebrities have to say about products or services? 

Somewhere along the way we (“we” meaning us, the public) came to the erroneous conclusion that anyone who is famous must be smarter than the average bear (and us), and if that were true, then we would more than likely improve our lives by following their lead on anything they might support or recommend. And if you think that’s not the case, then tell me why so many companies pay so many celebrities so much money to hawk their products and services via endorsements and media ads. How many times have you seen a washed up former celebrity trying to sell you something on TV in an infomercial? I’m not really asking you for an actual count, but you’ll have to admit that over the years there’s been more than one old familiar face trying to sell you beauty products, pots and pans, vacuum cleaners, financial advice, feminine beauty and hygiene products or some instructional video that will “change your life “forever”. Have you ever thought it’s because they can’t get acting work anymore, but they’re still useful as pitch men (and relatively cheap) for companies looking to attract perspective customers by using old familiar faces?

Who can resist the urgings of Tiger Woods to buy a new Buick, or how about Matthew McConaughey publicly speaking to us about the abstract psychological benefits of driving a Lincoln? Who, we ask, can say “no” to pleadings like that? I’ll tell you who….me! That’s who! I am astounded by the number of people who are swayed by the blatant commercial sales endeavors of celebrities looking to turn a quick buck. The basic and obvious mistake which is made by those who are influenced by such endorsements is that they confuse the word “celebrity” with “intelligence”, and in case you don’t already know, the two are not inexorably linked as some people apparently believe. The reality is that you don’t necessarily have to be especially intelligent (or perhaps not even marginally so) to become a celebrity. To achieve that status you need only possess some area of sought after talent, an overblown ego or some dumb luck which sometimes means just being in the right place at the right time. And meeting one of those two criteria does not always have anything to do with native intelligence.

The vast majority of the current wave of so called reality shows is the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Here you have people most of whom appear to have less than average IQs and who think nothing of going on TV and embarrassing themselves by displaying to the world their innermost thoughts and actions. I guess that serves to support and validate the theory that too many people will do just about anything for money. Take the Kardashian family, for instance. Talk about dysfunctional! If I were them I’d be hiding my family in a safe house somewhere on a desert island in the Pacific Ocean rather than putting them on public display. Or how about Braxton Family Values or the Housewives of ___________(fill in the blank of your favorite - Atlanta, Long island, New York LA, etc. These are not, by any standard, what most of us would call normal people, yet many viewers of these programs have this strange addiction that forces them to watch these ever unfolding, true life soap operas. When it comes to reality shows, and as sad and bad as many of these shows are, I guess the real lesson here is that the weirder they are the more people that watch and the more money their stars make. (Free enterprise at its finest!) 

But back to the main focus of this chapter. There is a disturbing number of celebrities who dive head first into the celebrity “market” to make hay (and money) while their celebrity star still shines brightly. I remember quite vividly the first time I saw Tiger Woods in a TV commercial for Buick. My very first thought was along the lines of, “Really? Are you kidding me? With all his money and he and the folks at Buick expect me to believe that he chose a Buick over a BMW or a Mercedes or even a Caddy? Do I really look that stupid?” Apparently Tiger and the folks at Buick thought so! Not only did I have great difficulty believing that Tiger drives a Buick in real life, but that void of credibility was confirmed several years ago when live TV cameras showed Tiger pulling into the parking lot at Augusta National for a round at the Masters. And do you think he was driving a Buick? Hell, no! It was a Caddy Escalade! I guess the Buick must have been in the garage for some routine maintenance that particular day. (Yeah, right!)

Then I got to thinking. How many people do you think actually believe Tiger drives a Buick? Apparently enough or the folks at Buick would have shitcanned him a long time ago. Maybe General Motors gave him a Buick to stick in his garage so that if put on the spot he could claim that he “owned” one, but do you think it’s his ride of choice? Hmm….which car should I take today? The Buick SUV or the Caddy Escalade? That’s like asking yourself, Should I go shopping this afternoon and buy some nice stuff for myself, or….go to my doctor for a colonoscopy? Hmm….another tough one. Give me a minute to mull it over.

There are countless other examples of movie and TV stars, athletes and other celebrities who couldn’t resist adding to their already egregiously large fortunes. Their ranks include icons such as Michael Jackson, Ringo Star, Bill Cosby, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that’s just for starters and doesn’t include well known sports figures who endorse anything and everything from athletic shoes to insurance, fast food and zit remover. And of course, these are all people who fell on “rough” times and were worried about where their next meal would come from! I guess it proves that some people just can’t resist any opportunity to turn a buck, even if they don’t need it.

As nauseating as that trait may be, what makes it so much worse is that in most instances the celebrity endorsing the product is under no requirement to actually use it. That means that in at least some of the cases (we have no way of determining for sure just how many) the celebrity may have no real firsthand knowledge of the product, let alone be a regular user of it. Now there’s where I draw the line. If you aren’t a regular user of the product, then the sales pitch you’re giving me is worse than lying….it’s fraud! Did they ever hear of the term “truth in advertising”? If you want to accept money to go on national TV to tell me how great a product is, then you damned well better be a regular user of it because if you’re not, then you’re a liar and a fraud and you should be put in jail for it….without a trial, of course!

The same goes for politicians who make a big deal about endorsing other candidates for public office. Do most people really care whether or not Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan have endorsed Donald Trump for the Presidency? Actually, in many quarters such endorsements might do more harm than good? Do you really think most folks care in the least who those politicians support in their bid for public office? And why should we? Just about every one of them has a real ax to grind and will support only members of their own party. Talk about self-serving! The only reason they make such endorsements is to protect their own interests, not yours or mine, and it’s in their best interests to have as many of their party in office as possible. It’s really not all that much different than Papa John going on TV to tell us how great his pizza is, or the Pope talking about the high points of Catholicism. Not exactly unbiased endorsements, nor are those who take money to make similar pronouncements.

​Despite what they might like us to believe, celebrities (and especially politicians) aren’t any smarter than you or me, but the mere fact that they are celebrities apparently makes some of them (and a lot of us) think they are. So here’s the deal. If you’re a celebrity, I really don’t care what cause, service, product or candidate you endorse. In fact, your endorsement could even cause me to react negatively to what (or who) you’re trying to sell me. But if you’re going to endorse a cause, or especially a product, at least make it an honest sales pitch for a product that you actually use (and like!) and not one that you’ve only recently heard about for the first time. Remember, if I buy something based on your recommendation, then I’m going to hold you personally responsible if I’m not satisfied with that purchase. And that means you can expect a call from me….something you really don’t want! In fact, I’d go even further and support a law requiring you to provide your cell phone number as a part of any endorsement deal you participant in. Gee, do you think that might have a negative impact on the number of celebrity endorsement adds?

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