Monday, October 23, 2006

Celebrities and Africa: Let's call the whole thing off

Every so often a mismatched pairing captures the public's fancy. Whether it's Arthur Miller and Marylin Monroe, Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg or Liza Minelli and David Guest, these unlikely couples give hope to everyone who's ever dared to dream escaping the ghetto of their predetermined personal arc through the love of another who is on a journey starkly difference than their own.

It never ends well. If the couple is lucky they call it quits on the heels of an "unfortunate" blackface incident. If things get really bad it's talk of battered husband syndrome and herpes.

I'm pretty sure it was Bono who first introduced the celebrities and the African Continent to each other. The crazy kids flirted for a while and things got hot and heavy during the Brangelina adoption-mania that swept through the Southern African nation of Namibia.

But suddenly -- like when a blast of Antarctic air hits the Kalahari desert -- the climate changed. The latest example of this quick shift from mutual fascination to suspicion and mistrust comes from Angola where the producers of the socially-conscious diamond-trade flick "Blood Money" have been accused of reneging on an agreement to provide prosthetic limbs for 27 amputees pulled from local hospitals and used as extras during the filming.

Whether or not the producers made this promise is subject to legitimate skepticism. But that doesn't lessen the blow to the amputee who has just had a limb callously waved in front of his nose and taken away.

That's almost as bad as having Madonna sweep into town and kidnap your first-born son. Which is what the father of the Malawian "orphan" Madge "adopted" is now alleging.

Again, the details are far too murky to even feign picking a side. But we are dealing with the difference between a good deed and life in prison without the possibility of parole. These are the kind of misunderstandings that suggest the celebrities and Africa had no business being involved in the first place.

Isn't it time for the celebrities to come home and bolster the GOP's dwindling November hopes by campaigning hysterically for the Democrats? Then the Africans could get back to giving each other horrid diseases, unmolested.

Both wiser with the knowledge it is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.

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