Well, not always a 'gentleman' it seems
Damn Buddhists. Knew they couldn’t be trusted. Wonder what the Dalai Lama thought of his boy getting so carnally carried away with that subcontinent ravisher that he offended most of the 87 billion people in that country. Tsk.
My ex-wife didn’t like watching Richard Gere movies because she said he reminded her too much in looks of her former husband. Actually, he does. I, however, had no such problem with Gere, or her ex, who is actually quite a nice guy.
My problem with Gere is that I have always run hot-and-cold with his opus. I liked An Officer and a Gentleman mainly because I like Lou Gossett Jr and David Keith, and Debra Winger’s husky voice does interesting things to my libido. Gere was, in many respects, the weakest link in that film, and he invariably looked like he was ready to burst into tears, which he did a few times.
Meanwhile, the premise of Pretty Woman stank. There is nothing romantic, sweet, cute or Julia Roberts-ish about prostitution. It’s a sordid, seedy and highly dangerous calling. My heart goes out to women who have chosen such a path to make ends meet or to feed a drug habit, and make no moral judgment on them. I do make a bit of a judgment about their clientele, however.
But, enough about Richard Gere’s oeuvre. What I want to talk about is attitude. I want to talk about smug and sanctimonious public figures that believe that by dint of ‘who’ they are, they have a right to set themselves up as moral arbiters for society. Richard Gere is and has been for a long time a practicing Buddhist. Good. Great philosophy and one in which I have done considerable reading. But, this doesn’t mean he has a role as a spokesperson for peace and love and everything in between. In essence he is a guy who has studied in a certain area. So has a goodly lot of the population of Asia. Why do I care about his views?
In all of this, Gere is no worse, nor any better than dozens like him who come to believe their public personae. I think that is called hubris. Who, for example, is this Irishman Bono that he should present himself as a person who should be reckoned with? Well, in the first place, real grownups generally go by two names, but that is neither here nor there. Why do genuine leaders come to kiss his ring? He’s a bloody musician who has expressed concern about the plight of the starving and dispossessed. Good for him. He has also lambasted world leaders for not coughing up more in that regard. Maybe has a point. How much of his personal fortune does he sink into his quest? When did he last get his hands dirty labouring in an African village? Basically, does he ever miss a meal?
And so it goes, our People Magazine fodder popular heroes who do not come close in heroism to those who slog in the field in vast numbers at huge risk to their safety and health, and never get invited to take tea with the Queen, or the Dalai Lama.
I saw a documentary a few years ago on an Englishwoman who was widowed in middle age. Distraught with grief, she entered a convent and became an Anglican nun. She then took herself off to Cairo where she was spending her declining years living and working in the Cairo city dump, and tending to the needs of the people who dwelt therein. Turns out there are whole generations of impoverished Egyptians whose entire lives, down the generations, have consisted of sifting through the fetid garbage in torrid heat in order to eke out an existence. This lady devoted her life to them.
That to me is sacrifice and courage of convictions. I couldn’t come close to being that selfless and neither could any dozen Geres, Bonos, Angelinas or Geldofs. But, I wouldn’t presume to. They somehow do.