My reaction to celebrities “taking a stand” on political issues has evolved from moderate annoyance to a shrugging indifference, but I really must applaud Steven Spielberg for the way he pantsed the Chinese government this week. Spielberg pulled out of his role as artistic director for the Beijing Olympics scheduled for this summer over Chinese inaction in the Darfur genocide.
I wouldn’t exactly say this was courageous on Spielberg’s part. He’s got an Everest-sized pile of money, one of the best reputations in all of Hollywood, plus he directed Hook. He didn’t need to be artistic director of the Beijing Games any more than Michael Jordan needs to win a game of H-O-R-S-E with Ryan Seacrest. However, this move was most certainly astute. As a guy who has spent his professional career putting on big productions and pushing hard for a huge opening, Spielberg knows that these Games are China’s international coming out party, and as the Opening Ceremonies near, the eyes of the world are watching. So with all those eyeballs, he shined a big ol’ spotlight on the Chinese government’s relationship with the butchers of Darfur just as the Communists are assiduously stage-managing every possible angle of their big debut. Bangarang!