Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.
This column refers to this event.
The train pulled in slowly, and a heavenly glow appeared on the platform. The source, a devilishly handsome man in his late-40s, smiled and immediately entranced the room. “Hi, I’m George Clooney”, he said, winking at the crowd like a favorite uncle who planned to slip them some money when no one else was watching.
A great cheer rose from the crowd, as if Jesus had resurrected a day late and chosen Duluth, MN as his re-spawning point. The frigid air turned 10 degrees warmer, with this wonderful man transporting everyone, if only in their minds, from the cold Northland to a sunny spot in heaven.
Suddenly, a horrible sound pierced the ears of the crowd. It also came from the platform. “Braaack!” the creature crowed, its mouth creaking open as if someone had once tried to sew it shut. “What town is this again, George? Braaack!” The creature had a woman’s body, but the face of a vulture. Its voice crackled and scraped through the air, bruising everything within earshot.
Clooney smiled, pointed to the creature, and said, “I assume you all know my co-star Renee Zellweger.”
Clooney used to be my favorite actor. I used to admire his talent, his charming manner, and his stupefying ability to not lose his hair. My family adored Clooney as well. Every time my mother saw him on TV, she’d point at his buttocks and scream, “Now that’s talent!” My father is not a man to gush about or compliment other men unless they’re athletes, but he did once look at Clooney and say, “At least he’s not a poof.” That’s quite the compliment coming from my old man.
In a world fraught with war, foreclosures, and horrendously bad reality television, Clooney and his movies made us feel happy again. We trusted him and loved him, and now the bastard betrayed us by bringing Renee Zellweger to Duluth. How could you, George? We thought you were our friend. That’s like bringing a coyote with mange to a dog show.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure someone loves Zellweger, in the same way that someone loved The Elephant Man or Richard Nixon. How many movies has her raspy trainwreck of a voice and whiny, depressing body language ruined? Cinderella Man, Cold Mountain, Nurse Betty, Chicago, Me Myself & Irene, Jerry Maguire. These are all movies I gladly would have seen in theaters if Zellweger had not been in them.
Well, maybe not Me Myself & Irene.
When I read about Clooney and Zellweger’s visit to Duluth on March 24, I had the same reaction as I did in 1995 when I saw Zellweger’s movie, Empire Records: “Wow, this would be great if that depressing-looking woman wasn’t ruining it.” Couldn’t Clooney have brought someone else? I’d rather he spent the entire press conference standing next to his mother, or a dead raccoon.
“But Paul, Zellweger is an award-winning actress!” Sure, she won an Oscar, something I’ll certainly never do, but that’s still no excuse for bringing her to Duluth. When the article on Clooney’s visit mentioned that he brought gifts, I had hoped for something thoughtful like fresh banana bread or jobs that don’t involve working in a mine. How disappointed I was to see that what he really brought was a horrendous hamster-faced donkey woman. Boo to you, sir! Boo to you!
From now on there will be restrictions on any person named George Clooney who visits Duluth. If he wants to come back, he must be screened prior to entry, to ensure he doesn’t bring wasteful things like Zellweger along with him. If we don’t crack down on this, he might come back next year with Lisa Kudrow or Shelley Long.
Just because big city people consider the Northland “backwoods” doesn’t mean you should accept whatever mediocre, second-rate crap that’s thrown at you. Stand up for yourselves and demand better, Duluth. Doesn’t Lake Superior have enough garbage floating in it without us having the chuck Clooney’s “gift” in there as well?