Home' Technology Review : April 2005 Contents 80
January 27, 2005
My dear Jason,
I woke up this morning to read a report saying that after making
his for mal remarks last night, Mr. Blair put on a polo shirt and a
pair of jeans and sat around his hotel suite drinking beer with a
few reporters from the Wall Street Journal. He used the occasion
to take another whack at explaining President Bush s foreign-
policy vision, as part of a wide-ranging interview that appeared
on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Europe. "I am
shocked, occasionally, at how some people view [the U.S.] to-
day," Prime Minister Blair told the editors.
By midday it was clear that Prime Minister Blair s remarks
had made a powerful impact on the forum members. Even certi-
ed Bush bashers like Sun s chief researcher John Gage "loved"
Tony Blair s remarks.
There was, of course, another big reason the WEFers weren t
banging on America. Folks are too busy going gaga over the ce-
lebrities, including three of the biggest stars to have ever walked
a red carpet: Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, and Angelina Jolie.
Tr ue glamour has nally shined its light on Davos.
As I was hunkered down in the press lounge, I noticed this
little Irish dude with sunglasses and hair slicked back who
rushed by me with a blond babe trailing behind him. He had a
leather jacket with fur sticking up around the neck, and his chest
was all pu ed up, and I started thinking, Hey, that guy walks like
a rock star. Actually, the guy was a rock star: Bono. And if that
wasn t enough, I looked up again and saw Lionel Richie. What is
Lionel Richie doing here?
The beautiful people were here to use their star power for so-
cial change, of course. Angelina Jolie, who was called the "sexi-
est woman alive" on the cover of Esquire magazine, is all about
drawing attention to humanitarian crises in Chad, Sudan, and
Sierra Leone. Bono cares about poverty in Africa too, and Sharon
Stone and Mr. Gere are all about raising money for the runaway
AIDS epidemic. It was all so bright and glittery that I was truly at
a loss as to what it all meant.
Thankfully, I ran into one of my Davos cronies, the other rock
star in the house, Peter Gabriel, and asked him to sort it out. "I
actually have a theory about that," Peter said, to my relief. "The
role of celebrities is just like that of the Greek gods. When Mar-
garet Thatcher was no longer our prime minister---and it is not
like I agreed with any of her policies---I kind of missed her. But it
was not about the Nanny State, it was about the Mommy State."
Peter was getting a little Freudian for my taste by this point, but I
encouraged him to go on. "Celebrities, Greek gods, Margaret
Thatcher---they are like our parents. They protect us from having
to look into oblivion. It is like having a golden roof over our heads.
We look up to them so we don t have to face reality. It is a way to
hide from our real fears."
Well, I could agree that Angelina Jolie was a Greek goddess.
My business partner Vassil Mladjov and I watched her walk back
and forth for inter view after inter view, always calm, collected,
and stunning to look at. Even my wife, Nicole, chided me by
phone from across the world; she said I should go up to Jolie,
drop a few names, and try to get a snapshot. I am sorry to say I let
us all down. It took all the courage I had just to take a photo of her
on one of her many jaunts down to the press room. Later, I en-
joyed hearing from Google CEO Eric Schmidt what it was actu-
ally like to sit next to the star of Tomb Raider. "She has this
amazing, rather large forehead," he started. (Only a true geek
would start out by marveling at a big forehead.) "And she has
these lips that are almost surreal," said Eric. "God surely broke
the mold, because there is no one like her," Eric concluded, and
everyone listening nodded and giggled.
From my seat, Ms. Jolie looks like the real deal. After all, she
did adopt a Cambodian orphan, she donates one-third of her in-
come to charity, and she wins praise from United Nations o -
cials for her hard work. Eavesdropping on her inter views, I heard
her say, "Celebrities have the responsibility to know exactly what
they are talking about and to be in it for the long run."
But Sharon Stone wasn t about to let Ms. Jolie steal all the
headlines. Two hours after my chat with Peter Gabriel, in the
midst of an earnest debate on "funding the war on poverty" in a
packed Congress Hall, Sharon Stone suddenly rose to her feet
and Richard Gere
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