We knew this recession thing was bad, but we didn’t know how bad until news came in from the forests of Bavaria that Nicolas Cage had been forced for financial reasons to sell his 28-room German castle, Neidstein. Et tu, economy?
While it’s true that Cage still owns several other homes and could, in a pinch, build a spacious bungalow from remaindered DVDs of Bangkok Dangerous, the fact remains that this big-time celebrity is now in possession of only one (1) ornate castle—Midford, an 18th-century fortress in England.
This is tragic news and I’m sure you’re tempted to feel sorry for Cage. We all know what it feels like to be down to our last castle.
But I am here to take the unpopular position of saying: don’t do that. Don’t feel sorry for Nicolas Cage. Don’t let your heart go out to a celebrity who has built vast reserves of wealth by acting in a number of high-quality movies and also about 60 other movies.
Don’t shed a tear for Nicolas Cage—because the truth is, Nicolas Cage and his ilk are single-handedly responsible for keeping us in recession and delaying our recovery.
That’s right. I used italics just there. That’s how serious this is.
As someone who was trained as an economist in the three 8 a.m. economics lectures I made it to as a university freshman, let me pose to you a question: for our world to continue to be a mostly tolerable place, which two words must never, ever be associated with Hollywood actors? Answer: financial prudence. (For partial marks, I will also accept “recording contract” and, as it pertains to Rosie O’Donnell, “photographed naked.”)
Cage and other austerity-minded celebrities appear to have forgotten the terms of the social contract upon which their fame was granted: we bestow vast wealth on celebrities—and celebrities piss it away. That keeps the economy strong. It allows the hard-working manufacturers of indoor shark tanks and diamond-encrusted toilets to feed their families.
The role of the celebrity is to live lavishly, dress lavishly and, above all, spend lavishly. According to government figures, a full 12 per cent of the U.S.’s 2007 GDP could be traced directly to Paris Hilton’s Amex. And sure, China is a country on the rise—but even today the combined spending power of 1.3 billion Chinese cannot match the economic impact of a single Lindsay Lohan bar tab.
Alas, too many celebrities are now shirking their solemn duty. Take Diddy, for example. First he stopped flying his private jet because the fuel was costing too much. Then he cut back on his purchases of jewels and chains in an effort to “dress less flashy” in a time of recession. What’s next—using a low-flow faucet when showering in champagne?
Across Hollywood, celebrities are shopping the sales and turning away from pricey designer boutiques in favour of Target and the Gap. They’re even cutting back on plastic surgery. (Great, so now I’m broke and I have to look at wrinkles on Teri Hatcher? Thanks a lot, recession.) Some are taking austerity to unprecedented extremes. Just last month, Eva Longoria wore the same outfit to two consecutive events. WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA, EVA LONGORIA??
Celebrities of the United States: you are your country’s greatest and possibly only remaining economic asset. Your desires, perversions and addictions are all the stimulus plan the world needs.
Your homes and castles don’t exist to be sold—they exist to be burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances, and then rebuilt in solid gold. You alone have the power to reignite domestic automotive manufacturing by driving expensive new sports cars into lampposts while intoxicated. And sure, Kleenex is less expensive, but do you really want your children to grow up in a world where famous people don’t sneeze directly into a $2,600 Hermes scarf?
Now is not the time to downsize. You need your agent, your manager, your publicist. Your drug dealer, your psychic, your back-scratcher.
We’ve never tried to tell you how to waste your money, and we don’t want to start now. You can spend it on lawyers to get off on that arrest or you can spend it on lawyers to get off on having resisted arrest. The point is that you need to spend, and spend foolishly, and spend now. You need to spend like Jennifer Aniston.
Consider her heroic tale of selflessness and sacrifice: during a recent trip to Europe to inflict the film Marley & Me on an unsuspecting continent that might conceivably mistake it for entertainment, Aniston brought along her personal hairstylist. The total tab for the week, including accommodations, flight and hair-based work? $50,000.
That’s right: $50,000. Fifty thousand dollars to make Jennifer Aniston’s hair look like it’s looked for the last 15 years. That’s a terrible investment in Aniston’s financial future—but it’s a great investment in getting America and the world back on track.