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The New Fellow Travelers

Anne Applebaum explores the lurid appeal of Hugo Chavez for Hollywood celebrities and supermodels (yes, supermodels): In fact, for the malcontents of Hollywood, academia, and the catwalks, Chávez is an ideal ally. Just as the sympathetic foreigners whom Lenin called … Read More

By / November 6, 2007

Anne Applebaum explores the lurid appeal of Hugo Chavez for Hollywood celebrities and supermodels (yes, supermodels):

In fact, for the malcontents of Hollywood, academia, and the catwalks, Chávez is an ideal ally. Just as the sympathetic foreigners whom Lenin called "useful idiots" once supported Russia abroad, their modern equivalents provide the Venezuelan president with legitimacy, attention, and good photographs. He, in turn, helps them overcome the frustration John Reed once felt—the frustration of living in an annoyingly unrevolutionary country where people have to change things by law. For all his brilliance, Reed could not bring socialism to America. For all his wealth, fame, media access, and Hollywood power, Sean Penn cannot oust George W. Bush. But by showing up in the company of Chávez, he can at least get a lot more attention for his opinions.

This is nothing new, of course, as the preceding paragraphs of Applebaum's piece make clear. This month marks the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power — an event much glamorized by popular culture despite its insipid and farcical reality. Lenin running around the Smolny Institute in a wig; Red Guards not knowing how to clean the guns they'd need to take the Winter Palace, etc. Though anticlimax takes a new definition in seeing the likes of Sean Penn — who realized only after his guided tour of Baathist Baghdad that he'd been used by Saddam as a "pawn" — cozying up to Chavez. This is how Hugo treats opposition in Caracas:

The armed forces and the police used the repression that we have already seen, while some small groups of pro Chavez hecklers were protected and allowed to do pretty much as they pleased. The images are quite sobering about he state of repression that Venezuela is going into, fast. El Universal even now publishes its articles with video amateurs included!!! It seems that now we must always travel with a video camera so we can film when the "authorities" descend on us! The young Vivas was the notorious victim of the day when the videos caught more than a dozen cops brutalizing him alone, in the most cowardly fashion and where forced to stop when they realized that they were being filmed by the media. The kid lost two teeth and the government says, coldly, that there was no violence from their cops, in spite of the videos, eye witness and victim declaration.

Courtesy of Daniel at Venezuela News and Views.

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