Wednesday, March 9, 2005

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Your surreal post of the day

I honestly don't know how to categorize this post. I'll just relay what the Associated Press has to say about Russell Crowe and Al Qaeda:

Russell Crowe says Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network wanted to kidnap him as part of a "cultural destabilization plot," according to an Australian magazine.

In an interview published in the March edition of Australia's GQ magazine, Crowe said FBI agents told him of the threat in 2001, in the months before he won a best actor Oscar for his role as Maximus in "Gladiator."

"That was the first (time) I'd ever heard the phrase 'al-Qaida,'" Crowe said. "It was about -- and here's another little touch of irony -- taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as sort of a cultural destabilization plot," he added.

Crowe was born in New Zealand and has a ranch in eastern Australia but made his name in Hollywood.

I'll leave it to my readers to figure out if this is a prime example of:

a) Russell Crowe's outsized ego;

b) The FBI's ineptitude in coping with Al Qaeda;

c) Al Qaeda's surprisingly deft sense of popular culture (remember, if the information is accurate, they wanted to kidnap Crowe before he won the Oscar).

UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe Al Qaeda wasn't behind this fiendish plot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Readers are heartily encouraged to suggest which celebrity kidnappings would be the most likely to trigger "cultural destabilization" in the United States. Loyal reader B.A. suggests Oprah Winfrey. [What about Salma Hayek?--ed. Ms. Hayek has the distinction of being the celebrity most likely to culturally destabilize the hard-working staff at]

UPDATE: Kudos to bumperarchive for finding the link to the actual magazine story. Here's the relevant section of the interview:

GQ: In the midst of the Oscar celebrations and the success of Gladiator, there was the rather strange kidnapping subplot. What can you explain about that now?

RC: We just arrived in Los Angeles, and we got contacted by the FBI, and they arrived at the hotel we were staying at, and they went through this big elaborate speech, telling us that for the whole time we were going to be in America, they were going to be around and part of life. You know—oh, I shouldn’t say things like this—I do wonder if it was some kind of PR thing to attract sympathy toward me, because it seemed very odd. Suddenly, it looks like I think I’m fucking Elvis Presley, because everywhere I go there are all these FBI guys around.

GQ: I don’t think it did create sympathy for you. I think a lot of people were kind of mean about it. I think they wrote about it in a way that implied you were paranoid and self-important.

RC: None of it was my application. I didn’t pay for any of it. It was…the FBI, bless their pressed white shirts. They picked up on something they thought was really important, and they were following it through. They were fucking serious, mate. What are you supposed to do? You get this late-night call from the FBI when you arrive in Los Angeles, and they’re like absolutely full-on, “We’ve got to talk to you now, before you do anything. We have to have a discussion with you, Mr. Crowe.”

GQ: But who was supposed to be after you?

RC: [pauses] Um…well, that was the first conversation in my life that I’d ever heard the phrase Al Qaeda. And it was something to do with some recording picked up by a French policewoman, I think, in either Libya or Algiers. And it was a destabilization plan. I don’t think that I was the only person. But it was about—and here’s another little touch of irony—it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan.

GQ: So presumably the trigger for it was that you played the iconic American movie role of that year?

RC: That seemed to be a Hollywood thing, yeah. But look, I’ll tell you what, it was never resolved to any intellectual satisfaction from my point of view. I never fully understood what the fuck was going on.

GQ: But there must have been a point where they said, “Well, we’re not going to be around anymore….”

RC: Oh yeah, there was a point where they said they thought the threat had probably or had possibly been overstated, and then they started to question their sources, and blah, blah, blah. But I don’t know how it was resolved, you know? But they were serious about it. And what can you say? I mean, gee, there were a lot of man-hours spent doing that gig, so the least I can say is, “Thank you very much.”

GQ: It must have messed with your head somewhat.

RC: I think it was a bit odd. But I also thought, [laughs] Mate, if you want to kidnap me, you’d better bring a mouth gag. I’ll be talking you out of the essential philosophies you believe in the first twenty-four hours, son. I might chew through the first one, too, so be prepared.

posted by Dan on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM


Come to think of it, I really wouldn't know who to root for in this particular battle.

posted by: norbizness on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Maybe we can see a sequel to "Beautiful Mind" called "Nutso Mind"

On the other hand, if he's even remotely correct: Dan, aren't you ever worried about your own safety if "iconographic Americans" are being kidnapped ?

posted by: erg on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

How about Michael Moore, to exploit the red/blue split. PLUS If they wanted to mail him back in pieces, they'd spend their entire treasury on the postage.

posted by: Peter Nolan on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson, because if he were kidnapped Mike Sherman would be running the Packers' draft again. This would be a bad thing.

posted by: Zathras on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Just a thought, what if they kidnapped Michael Jackson? What would the media do for the next two months? Talk about your cultural destabilization, we'd be bored stiff. Oh wait, they could kidnapp Martha Stewart, and probably have the same effect judging by the media compound outside her house trying to see in her windows.

posted by: James on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

This isn't a laughing matter. Kidnapping a major celebrity would give the terrorists a great deal of media time and there would be hundreds of thousands or millions of fans who would go weak.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Or they could start kidnapping especially hated celebrities and we could thank them. Imagine how much their coffers would overflow if they were to kidnap Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Perhaps if they could take out Mark Burnett so that we would be rid of reality TV, too...

If Winfrey were kidnapped, we would convert millions of middle-aged Democrat women into warmongers in a fortnight.

posted by: Klug on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

N.b. that Drezner didn't say Hayek's *kidnapping* would destabilize "the staff," but that *Hayek* would destabilize it/them/him.

No doubt.

If Salma goes missing, I'm pointing the finger at Ms. Drezner.

posted by: Anderson on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Is Selma Hayek of Arab ancestry? Doesn't that make Dan's pining a little futile?

posted by: Peter Nolan on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Kidnapping Mel Gibson would possibly lead to World War III, and there's nothing more destabilizing than WWIII

posted by: washerdreyer on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

The redoubtable Ms. Hayek is of Mexican ancestry. As to whether this makes Professor Drezner's pining any more realistic or not, I don't know.

posted by: Justn on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

She's a Lebanese father apparently...

posted by: Peter Nolan on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

Cultural destablization?? Even if they kidnapped the entire hollywood establishment who would be missed?

posted by: val on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

On Dan's behalf, I volunteer to "gather up" (I won't use the K word) Ms Hayek and bring her to him for questioning.

On the other hand, I just saw Penelope Cruz 2 days ago on Leno I think, and she's looking like she wants equal time to Salma (the lowest cut blouse ever -- my wife kept remarking on her "fixing herself").

Bonus feature: Apparently, Penelope and Salma are best friends, always together, so I'm offering a "two for one" special K.

posted by: Fred M on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

I don�t think that I was the only person.

I'm not particularly a keen Russell Crowe fan (though hey! he helped popularize Nash equilibria!) but that seems to indicate Crowe just thought it was really weird, and not that he was particularly special--and he happened to be the one for whom the G-men were particularly obvious, so he got made fun of a lot.

Al Qaeda's surprisingly deft sense of popular culture (remember, if the information is accurate, they wanted to kidnap Crowe before he won the Oscar).

You gotta wonder, sometimes, if "they"--or someone inspired by them--will wisen up to all the creatively horrible things they could do. . ..let's just hope not.

posted by: Saheli on 03.09.05 at 10:28 AM [permalink]

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