Party Fouls—Berlusconi, Ratner and Papandreou
Occupation: Blowing it.
Lately Seen: Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would resign on Tuesday after members of his ruling party bailed on him in a key parliamentary vote. George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece, agreed to step down last Sunday, but was still flailing impotently on Wednesday, the feckless leader of a phantom coalition that is failing to form an interim government. Also on Tuesday, motion picture director Brett Ratner forfeited his assignment to produce the 84th Academy Awards presentation, scheduled for February 26, 2012.
Brett Ratner appeared as himself on an episode of the HBO series Entourage, an alternate reality where gay slurs are a quick path to character development—sympathetic character development.
The Harm Done: Berlusconi has diverted Italy’s attention from his serial sexual and legal scandals, including possible charges of statutory rape, by presiding over an economic slide that bumped Greece off of its pinnacle as the gravest concern in the eurozone’s debt crisis. Papandreou had threatened to allow enraged Greeks to vote on accepting “prosperity cutbacks” in exchange for a massive fund infusion from the eurozone’s solvent states, tanking financial markets as far away as New York City. Rush Hour director Ratner casually tossed off the
phrase “that’s so gay” word “fag” during an interview promoting his latest film, Tower Heist, one week after saying of actress Olivia Munn: “I banged her a few times, but I forgot her.”
The Extenuating Circumstances: Berlusconi is a billionaire media baron who relies on TV stations and newspapers that he owns to keep him honest and morally pure. Papandreou is entitled to his mistakes: his father and grandfather were both prime ministers of Greece. Brett Ratner appeared as himself on an episode of the HBO series Entourage, an alternate reality where gay slurs are a quick path to character development—sympathetic character development.
The Apology: Silvio Berlusconi’s expression of contrition, captured by a photographer after eight party members voted contrary to his wishes, was to write the words “eight traitors” on his notepad. “I never put my position above the national good,” said Greece’s Papandreou Wednesday, expressing his regrets. “Wherever I go, I will carry the Greek flag in my heart.” In a span of three days, Ratner first dismissed his slur bomb as a lapse in his powers as a storyteller. A day later, in a letter to “the Entertainment Industry,” he said he would “like to apologize publicly and unreservedly.” Finally, for now, Ratner convinced the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation that he would work with it during the next three years “to convene public discussions [addressing] anti-LGBT jokes and slurs in films and on television.”
The Price to Pay: The follies of Berlusconi and Papandreou have prompted France and Germany to exchange the equivalent of interoffice diplomatic G-chats, privately exploring ways to squeeze deadbeat nations out of the euro currency club, a move liable to shake the entire European Union to its long-vacation-loving, health-care-having, pension-granting, environment-coddling underpinnings. Ratner’s stumble tongue has emboldened the Muppets to suggest that groundswells of support exist for them to host the movie industry’s most magical night—which might be a collateral blessing of unprecedented proportion.