Charlize Theron on Cuba
by Humberto Fontova
A Hollywood A-lister (Charlize Theron) recently traveled to Cuba and returned without the paeans to its Stalinist regime that habitually issue from her colleagues after such visits. Pigs worldwide started sprouting wings.
During her Cuban visit Ms Theron helped produce a documentary (East of Havana) on Cuban hip-hop artists that cast the Castro regime in a negative light. Pigs worldwide started flapping and taxiing down the runway.
Last week on ABC's Good Morning America, Charlize Theron said : "I think the (Cuban) younger generation is starting to say, 'You know what, it doesn't work. We're not happy. We want to have freedom of speech. We want to be able to travel." By now every pig from Bangkok to Stockholm was galloping madly and flapping furiously while nearing the end of his runway.
During a subsequent interview on CNN, anchor Rick Sanchez started to ask Theron about the lack of freedoms in Cuba. She interrupted the question with the following: "I would argue that there's a lack of freedom in America."
Pigs worldwide promptly cocked their ears and started slowing down both their hoofbeats and wingbeats.
"I seem to recall," explained the Academy Award winning Best Actress, "some time ago some reporters being fired from their jobs for speaking up on television about how they felt about the war."
"But do you think the lack of freedoms in Cuba are parallel to the lack of freedoms in the United States?" asked CNN's Sanchez.
"Well, I would," answered Theron. Pigs worldwide now stopped flapping and cupped their ears in rapt attention. "I would compare those two," continued Theron. "Yes, definitely." (italics mine)
Inches from the end of the runway pigs worldwide dug in their heels and jammed their engines into reverse, thus remaining earthbound. "AH!" they squealed. "Now this is MORE LIKE IT!" Their wings retracted and they returned to their wallows, grunting contentedly.
After many nights of scrutiny and meditation, the best my team of analysts can determine is that Charlize Theron equates the policies of a regime that incarcerated political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin's , that machine-guns to death entire families for attempting to travel abroad, that mandates ( under penalty of prison or firing squad) what its subjects, read, say, eat, earn, eat (both substance and amount) , where they live, travel or work—she equates this regime with a government under which a private corporation owned by stockholders terminated some employees for violating company guidelines.
Who in Hollywood could argue with that? By Hollywood standards her logic seems airtight.
Meanwhile back in the studio Rick Sanchez remarked to Theron: "It sounds like you don't have a very high opinion of the United States." Theron retorted that she actually lives in the U.S., so he was clearly wrong. As Sanchez continued to seek clarification of her comments Theron interrupted with: "I want to make out with you right now."
Amazingly, this dust-up occurred on CNN "Castro's a hell of a guy!" Ted Turner had gushed to a Harvard audience in 1997. "You'd like him!" Within weeks of Ted's comments at Harvard, CNN had a bureau in Havana, the first ever granted to a U.S. network. Bureau chief Lucia Newman assured viewers, "We will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without censorship."
Hard-hitting stories immediately followed. To wit: CNN soon featured Fidel's office in its "Cool Digs" segment of CNN's "Newsstand." "When was the last time you saw a cup full of pencils on the boss's desk?" asked perky CNN anchor Steven Frazier. "And they do get used – look at how worn down the erasers are. ... Years ago, our host worked as an attorney, defending poor people. ... He's Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader since 1959!"
Rick Sanchez was born in Cuba and knows about conditions on the island. But for his background Theron might have sailed though the interview a la Hillary Clinton with Katie Couric. But for Sanchez’ impertinent behavior Theron might have forsaken her riposte, which was obviously both brilliant and germane, dug out Hollywood's thumb-eared script on Castro/Cuba and started reciting the lines. Among the choicest:
"Fidel I love you. We both have the same initials. We are both powerful men. And we both use our power for good. (Francis Ford Coppola)
"Castro is a genius and Cuba is a paradise." (Jack Nicholson)
"Socialism works. I think Cuba might prove that." (Chevy Chase.)
"Castro is very selfless and moral, one of the world's wisest men." (Oliver Stone)
"If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!" (Harry Belafonte)
"It was an experience of a lifetime to sit only a few feet away from him (Castro.)" Kevin Costner.
"The eight most important hours of my life," Stephen Spielberg describing his dinner with Castro.
Okay, so Cuba’s a repressive place-- but no more repressive than the U.S. Charlize Theron made this clear. So let’s give her time. As a political philosopher she’s obviously not shoulder to shoulder with Hollywood’s Best and Brightest just yet. But she’s off to a promising start.
Humberto Fontova is the author of Fidel; Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, a Conservative Book Club Main Selection.