July 19, 2005

Stop that cameo.

Matt Drudge managed to get John McCain to talk about him on the Leno show by calling the movie he did a cameo in a "boob raunch fest." McCain even went to the trouble to have a dorky joke written to defend against the boob barb. ("In Washington, I work with boobs every day.") Now, I suppose, McCain looks cool.

Just last week, Entertainment Weekly slammed nonactor celebrities -- including Leno -- for doing all those vanity cameos:
In Bewitched, James Lipton makes a cameo appearance as an oily interviewer of movie stars with his own infotainment television show -- which is to say, as himself, fawning host of Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio. Only in this case, instead of coaxing deep thoughts about craft from real thespians, he urges a fictional, shallow movie star, played by Will Ferrell, to relive past flops.

This must stop. Lipton's show is its own mesmerizing bonfire of the vanities, but the gimmick of casting pop-cultural celebs as themselves in fictional situations has become the lazy filmmaker's shortcut to meta chuckles; it's also a depressing index of who's willing to shill his reputation. Regis Philbin plays Regis Philbin in Miss Congeniality 2, Jay Leno plays Jay Leno in Mr. 3000, James Carville plays James Carville in Old School, and it's the rare plot involving media coverage that doesn't include Larry King. For the love of self- respect! Quizmasters, ringmasters, and moguls (I'm talking to you, Alex Trebek, Al Sharpton, and Donald Trump), keep it real!
And now Drudge had to go and say "boob raunch fest" and make those things seem exciting again.


Dirty Harry said...

Larry King's played himself in 45 films! Not all of them are cameos but too many are.


It gets to a point where a celebrity stops helping make the world your trying to create real and becomes just another "Larry King cameo."

I just saw "The Muse" again, and those cameos were hilarious. But you'd never seen those celebs doing them before: James Cameron, Scorsese, Lorenzo Llamas, Jennifer Tilly...

And they all spoofed themselves (paraphrasing):

Scorsese: "Is there a Starbucks around here?"

Brooks: "You don't need coffee."

ziemer said...

and no one can deny that when alex trebek appeared on "cheers," it was hysterical.

there is nothing wrong with minor celebrities doing cameos, per se.

knoxgirl said...

I don't like cameos for the same reason I don't like it when they use recognizable celebrity voices for cartoon character voices. It abruptly pulls you out of the fictional world of the movie back into the real world.

There's also something a bit self-congratulatory about cameos that's distasteful...sort of: "Look at me!! Aren't I funny and cool to be doing this!?"

Troy said...

I saw two big boobs in Wedding Crashers -- John McCain and James Carville (serpent-boob).

Anthony said...

Alex Trebek, for what it's worth, was in an X-Files episode playing one of the Men In Black. Jesse Ventura played his MIB partner. Absolutely hilarious episode.

Irene Done said...

Veering just slightly off topic, does anyone else miss the Instapundit and Ann Althouse cameos at Huffington's Toast? Sometimes, fake cameos are the best cameos of all.

Dirty Harry said...

I don't know as I miss them at HuffTo but they sure had me on the floor. The "honey pie" one about killed me.

Spielberg and others did great cameos in the beginning of Austin Powers III.

Ann Althouse said...

I think my reaction to the pie one made them worry they were upsetting me, and they stopped.