Thursday, December 30, 2004

goodbye de niro

I believe congratulations are in order for Robert de Niro, latest inductee into the Sack of Shit Club for appearing in an American Express commercial disguised as a sentimental paean to New York City. He commits not only his face – radiantly lit, rueful and grim, furrowed here and scored there, engraved with an expression that seems to mourn the constant passing away of the things we love – but even his signature to the commercial’s coda. What’s the matter with you, de Niro? Your career flagging? Restaurants emptying? Tribeca Film Festival dying? I don’t think so. Whatever aura that clung to your name, to your face, is gone now, taken by those who thought to borrow it for thirty seconds on prime time. It was bad when Venus and Serena Williams pretended that McDonalds food made a healthy post-workout meal, but there’s something tragic about watching Robert de Niro take a dump over the city he supposedly loves with the lines “My life is happens here… My card is American Express”. In thirty seconds he transformed himself, chameleonic method actor that he is, from a once-great actor (although his miss-to-hit ratio has been pretty high over the last ten years) to a cynical schmuck, a human sandwichboard willing to drape himself over the highest bidder.

Mind you, it's probably better than Meet the Fockers.

6 comments:

Craig R. Harmon said...

Wow! He can't make some bucks doing a commercial? He's an actor, after all. What, precisely, is his offense here?

Friday said...

Wow! He can't have an opinion about a poorly-aging, sell-out of an actor? This is his journal, after all...

Anonymous said...

My favourite De Niro role was when he played goatee'd bodyguard to that rat Elia Kazan, when the latter received an honourary Oscar a few years back.

palinode said...

An actor? No. De Niro is an icon. He's one of those celebrities that has spilled over from the daily world into the nighttime imaginings that make up our consciousness. De Niro's appearance in a movie isn't just an appearance; it's an accumulation of that iconic status, an artificial layer beneath which the real de Niro lurks. We go to Meet the Fockers and we imagine the real de Niro beneath the comedy. The fact that this imagined "real" person is no more than some of his more memorable characters - Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta - doesn't make a difference. His face looks like something true. It looks like a distillation. Which is why I'm so revolted to see him put that face in the service of a charge card. And if you don't see what possible problem I could have with a wealthy man (or so I'm assuming) shilling for Amex to the middle and lower classes of your country, then I may have trouble persuading you of my distress. But thanks for posting a comment.

Craig R. Harmon said...

Friday,
Heck, I don't care who has what opinion about whom. Since, however, Palinode left the comments capability enabled on his blog, I felt invited to wonder why an appearance in a commercial ranked De Niro a membership in the "Sack of Shit Club". Actors are, by definition, whores. Some whores are of a higher class than others but they are all whores.

Maybe he thought of the commercial as more of a tribute to New York than as selling his face for cash to benefit a Credit Card Company to the detriment of holders of said card. Maybe he's giving the procedes to aid recovery in countries effected by the tsunami and saw this as a vehicle for said aid. Maybe he genuinely feels that credit cards are a boon to people trying to build their credit ratings. Maybe he just felt that the concept of the commercial was artistically well above that of the average commercial and worthy of his efforts. Who knows?

Besides, who says a whore can't slum?

Palinome,
Sure, I can understand why you would have problems with someone, whom you view to be (or to have been) an icon, shilling for a big company to the detriment of lower classes. Since I view him as simply a very high class whore, who's very good at what he does, I felt that "Sack of Shit" was unwarrantedly harsh.

Craig R. Harmon said...

Palinode,
Er, sorry, for misspelling your moniker. And thanks for your comment at my blog.