You expect entertainers to sound silly when they speak on sociopolitical matters. But put them on the spot, on the cusp of the millennium, and you'll get something extraordinary even by their standards. Here comes the new "Millennium Special" issue of Rolling Stone, in which more than 150 celebrities, the overwhelming majority of them from show business, share their deepest thoughts about Where We've Been and Where We're Going.
And just how deep are these thoughts? Well, if each were a body of water, you wouldn't get your shoelaces wet stepping in any of it.
Most of the symposium's wackiest remarks address one of three topics. First, there's Ronald Reagan. Among the clearest indications of Reagan's legacy is that he still drives so many left-wingers up the wall. R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, for example: "Reagan and Bush.those tumors with tentacles that reached out and strangled every aspect of this society.I can't fathom that we, as a country, were idiotic enough to put [Reagan] in such a position of power."
"X-Files" creator Chris Carter: "The Reagan presidency.had a tremendous effect on the spirit of the country while its coffers were being looted. The Republicans ended up paying for it, even though Reagan never did." Mr.Carter apparently has created one too many "X-Files" episodes, since he can't distinguish fantasy from reality: Reagan gave us the greatest peacetime economic expansion in history.
Singer Zack de la Rocha of the far-left band Rage Against the Machine works Reagan into his rap on rap music, the cultural state of which de la Rocha finds "disturbing.deep materialism running through the songs, the f-k-everything-but-what's-good-for-me thing." So what does this have to do with the Gipper? "I've always thought that if Reagan was a rapper, he'd be in Puff Daddy's crew." Oh.
Their second topic is religion. Robbie Robertson, formerly of the Band, would like to see "world contraception. I think we have to stop using God to impose stupid religious ideas on poor, uneducated people. It's cruel." Even more vicious is Marilyn Manson, who says that if future beings opened a time capsule from our age, found a Bible, and read it, "they would.be inspired to commit terrible acts of violence."
The gang from "Dogma," Kevin Smith's cinematic assault on Catholicism, is represented. Smith himself says, "Being a Catholic artist in 1999 hasn't been as nice an experience as I'd hoped it would be." Well, gee, Kevin, if you hadn't made that movie.
Alanis Morissette, who plays God in "Dogma," declares, "Christianity taught me to view God as vengeful and judgmental. Over the last few years, though, I've realized that God is compassionate and has no preference about how we live our lives."
Topic three is broader: sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Willie Nelson delivers this whopper: "Waylon Jennings once said that if everybody got up in the morning and [masturbated], there wouldn't be no wars. I am not in favor of that as much as I am of pot.They should start off every world summit with a puff.or maybe just pump a little into the air conditioner.In the future, I would like to be able to push a switch and have pot released into every household all over the world."
Want to guess what Willie was doing before giving that interview?
And singer/songwriter Tori Amos shares what sounds like the outline for a concept album: "If they keep crashing stuff into the moon trying to find water and then the moon gets pissed off and the tides change and all women start PMS-ing together, you guys are going to f--ing regret that."
These celebs don't ignore Bill Clinton. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith reflects that "Monicagate showed us that the president of the United States takes his pants off one leg at a time, just like the rest of us."(And all along Monica thought she was special.) Tyler adds, "The doctrine of marriage [is] just a piece of paper. An orgasm is so much more what life is about."
Finally, John Mellencamp doesn't actually mention Clinton, but seems to suggest that his promiscuity has made him a good president. After AIDS, opines Mellencamp, "flirting [and] mating.became a chore.particularly for younger people, who have never experienced the excitement of casual sex. I think it's crippling. People need to learn to get along in small ways before they can get along in big ways. If you can't be tender in an individual situation, how can you be understanding and compassionate in a larger situation?"
In other words, Clinton, having been - how euphemistic is this? - "tender" with scads of women, is well suited to lead. Watch for Mellencamp to endorse Warren Beatty.