This year, Brad Pitt announced that within three years he will retire from making movies. If he has the guts to actually do it, Pitt should become a national hero — Saint Brad of the Dignified Exit. Either due to personal ego, or the fact that medicine is letting people live as long as Old Testament patriarchs, or both, people just aren’t taking their bows when they should. I say better to go out like Leonidas in “300,” felled gloriously by a cloud of arrows in battle, than be Larry King, who now drools more than the kids he keeps having. As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time to cull the field. Here are 10 people who need to retire posthaste.
As this point, Miss Perky is hanging on due to nothing other than self-importance and her addiction to the camera and her own voice. I take nothing away from Couric’s early career. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and remember when she was a reporter for the local NBC affiliate. She was cute, she was smart, she was funny. She still had the charm when she decamped for “The Today Show.” Then came celebrity and self-seriousness (although she still talks like a teenager). Then the debacle at CBS, which is being followed by a talk show. No one has the guts to gently break it to her that people find her shallow and self-aggrandizing. It happened to Dan Rather, Katie, and you don’t have his gravitas. Courage, Perky. Buh-bye.
Another reason to hate MTV. Bennett was shuffling offstage when the hipsters at the network decided to give him his own “Unplugged” special in 1994. Bennett’s son Danny had been promoting his dad as relevant to younger audiences throughout the 1980s, but it was the MTV spot that pushed Anthony Dominick Benedetto into one of the greatest second acts since Betty White. It has been a disaster for jazz fans, who watch Bennett hog the spotlight — even forgetting the words to songs — while genuine talents like Kurt Elling play small clubs. The obsequy of Bennett’s celebrity cult is phony. His ubiquity is officially oppressive.
For those who were there, it was magic. The Washington Redskins in the 1980s. The team was winning, they actually played in the city that they are named after. Riggins. Theisman. Art Monk. And the owner, Jack Kent Cooke — a colorful septuagenarian who had been married five times. For some of us Washingtonians, winning was even beside the point; the Redskins and their fans were a family. In 1985, John Riggins got plowed at a formal dinner and told Sandra Day O’Connor, “Loosen up, Sandy baby. You’re too tight.” (Imagine the hand-wringing that would cause today.) Then the Redskins moved to Redneck, Maryland, and Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999. There are a million things Snyder has done wrong, from charging to park to watch the team practice to suing critics, but the cumulative enormity of his crime, the sheer psychic and emotional damage he has done to Washington, which was deeply in love with the Redskins, can only be understood in cosmic terms. Remember in the “Star Trek” reboot when the evil Romulan used a substance called “red matter,” a teaspoon of which could create a black hole and destroy a world? Daniel M. Snyder is the red matter of NFL owners.
President Obama is brilliant, but he needs to find some guts by embracing the left. The Republican Party has moved too far to the right and is now a radical movement. I have just saved you from having to read E.J.’s next 103 columns.