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 ...
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:
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 danieldrezner.com.] 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.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the author of The Ideas Industry. Twitter: @dandrezner
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