by Karl J. Paloucek
Do you remember that episode of The Flintstones when Stony Curtis came to Bedrock, and at every mention of his name, Wilma’s hair would go bananas, then she would follow suit, running helter-skelter through their granite ranch-style abode? It’s been a while since I’ve seen that episode, and despite having been in entertainment journalism for a number of years, it’s been quite a while since I witnessed a mass of people — full-grown adult humans, children, teens — go into a full-on celebrity frenzy.
It happened that right around the corner from our offices here in Chicago, the premiere of Public Enemies was set to take place at our local multiplex, and — I hate to use this line — the stars were coming out for it. Among them, Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, Christian Bale and … well, yeah, Johnny Depp.
It also happens that my wife is one of those afflicted with perpetual “Depprivation” (a diagnosis describing those who can never get enough Depp), so I was more than usually obliged to accompany her to try to get a glimpse of him should he zip past. What was unusual was standing on the side with the great unwashed instead of with the press. But I got something out of it that the cool-and-credentialed didn’t get — an unbelievable sense of what sort of hilarity celebrity euphoria can produce.
Among the flurry of digital snappery and would-be autograph seekers, I shot a few pics … with my laptop … and observed and overheard things I don’t normally get to hear on such occasions. Such as:
A young woman offering $50 cash to a teenage guy in exchange for his place at the front of the barricade. (He took it.)
Christian Bale signing autographs for some of the crowd, one of whom had the humor to yell out, “Can I get my $10 back for Terminator 4?” while more than a few other guys exclaimed to no one in particular, “It’s @#$%in’ Batman!”
From the Chicago, I’m So Ashamed Dept., the buzz around me upon the appearance of the film’s director Michael Mann delivered up this gem: “Who’s that? Oh, that’s not anybody …”
Likewise regarding Marion Cotillard: “Is that someone?”
But the full-scale impact was saved for the appearance of Depp himself, who graciously stayed to sign autographs and glad-hand supporters for a full hour before taking his leave, in spite of the copious screaming. As I waited for my wife to get her eyes filled and tried to get a semi-acceptable photograph for this blog entry (How’d I do? Not bad for a laptop and not actually being able to see, if you ask me …), I caught the following lines out of the mouths of the fans around me. Try to guess which one was my wife’s:
“I’m not normally this much of a spazz!”
“Johnny Depp signed my to-do list — I guess that’s appropriate!”
“I loved you in The Astronaut’s Wife!”
“Nick of Time Was my favorite movie ever!”
“He’s gorgeous! GORRRRGEOUSS!!”
I don’t know. Sometimes I can’t help but think that the greater entertainment value might come from the people watching movies and TV than the entertainers themselves … especially when they call their mothers on their cellphones and squeal.
Photo Credit: Karl J. Paloucek/Tribune Media Services