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And Baby Makes Two 

Hollywood bastardizes another aspect of life.

Camryn Manheim is having a baby. And she's doing it the new-fashioned way: without a partner, with an upraised middle finger aimed at society, and with absolutely no concern for how screwed up the poor kid's life is going to be.

This, in and of itself, does not mean that we have reached the final leg on the road leading to the decline of Western Civilization, but it's certainly another milepost on the way. After careening down the Self-Absorbed Highway, we took the Me! Me! Me! turnoff and headed for the walled community of Amorality Estates. Along the way, we took the time to flip off convention, run over a few people who were dumb enough to be religious, and finally, for good measure, we broke a few traffic laws because our destination was more important than anybody else's.

See, Manheim lives in the New Hollywood, where people sincerely believe that if they have a hit movie or a hit TV series that they get to live Outside The Lines in real life. And even worse, they somehow believe that the average person gives a crap about what they think.

On this infinitely selfish decision to have a fatherless child, Manheim said, "It's the way of the future, so people better start opening their minds and expanding their horizons. You're going to see it again and again."

Oh God, does this mean she's going to have more?!

I actually used to like Manheim, or, more correctly, the character she played on TV, the aggressively unattractive Eleanor Frutt. (See, they even gave her an aggressively unattractive name.) It was cool to see people who looked real. Her character was much more appealing that the stick-figure Ally McBeal.

But as The Practice took off in popularity, Manheim made the mistake of opening her mouth in public. She bragged about all the cocaine she had done. Apparently, she's the female version of David Crosby. What are you going to do, snort cocaine or be fat? Make up your mind. She went on and on about how she was the prototypical actress of the future. And now she apparently has conned some guy into holding up a magazine with one hand.

My ultimate disillusionment with her came when I saw her on some awards show. She got up to make an acceptance speech and she sounded just like Eleanor Frutt! It was like when Diane Keaton won the Oscar for Annie Hall and she started off her acceptance speech with "La-de-da, la-de-da." I remember screaming at the TV set like the person in that Twilight Zone episode: "You know that book, To Serve Man? It's a cookbook!"

So it turns out that she's not a great actress. She just an annoying human being who happened to be first in line when they put out a casting call for someone to portray an annoying human being on a new TV show.

I read the article in USA Today, which is the journalistic equivalent of Chinese food. An hour after reading USA Today, you get this powerful hankerin' to read the L.A. Times. In the article, they lumped her together with other celebrity single women who now have kids. This is lazy journalism because there are lots of different reasons why women are raising children alone, and only most of them are selfish.

Jodie Foster had a kid without a husband because she doesn't like men, but doesn't want to come out with that information because it might hurt her career. Madonna spits out bastard kids every time her P.R. firm tells her that she's falling off the celebrity radar screen. Things got so bad after her last movie, she messed around and got married. But true to her carefully cultivated maverick image, she did so after the kid was born.

But then they mention women (including Rosie O'Donnell and Linda Ronstadt) who have adopted kids, and that's a whole different story. People who adopt are making the world a better place. They're cleaning up somebody else's mess, making a positive out of a negative, adding love to the circle. Theirs is truly a good and noble effort.

(Having spent the majority of my adult life being a father, I tend to think that a kid with two parents is in the optimum situation. But for single adoptive parents, it's just like in math: Two is better than one, but one is infinitely better than zero. I sincerely applaud them.)

But adopting a kid who is already there and in need has absolutely nothing in common with creating a new life just because you've snorted all the blow in Hollywood and eaten all the cheescake in Beverly Hills, so now you want a new hobby!

The only possible good thing that can come of this is that some illegal Guatemalan named Consuelo will find steady work for a few years as a nanny.

They say that if somebody's poor and crazy, they're just crazy. But if they're rich and crazy, they're eccentric. Camryn Manheim considers herself a trailblazer. But if she had intentionally gotten herself pregnant five years ago, before she was a star, she'd have been just another pathetic loser who could only keep a man interested in five- and 10-minute spurts (if you'll pardon the expression).

Manheim claims that she has received well wishes and congratulations from "99 percent of her fans." Well, if you only have 27 fans, 99 percent doesn't come out to a whole number. The poor kid is going to have no dad and a moron for a biological mother.

She ended her Self-Love-In by lamenting that the 1 percent whom she claims don't applaud her decision are missing out. "I feel sorry that they can't celebrate such beauty."

I stared at that sentence for a solid hour and couldn't come up with anything that made her look worse than her own words. God bless the child, 'cause it's clear that the mother doesn't give a damn.

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