George Clooney has jokes. His latest celebrity-based antics: a swarm of paparazzi descended upon his house in Italy after a (false) rumor spread that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were going to be getting married there. Clooney, who was away working, heard about this, and ordered 15 large wedding tables to be set up on the house's lawn. The paps went crazy [Hollyscoop]! Clooney laughed. He's a funny guy. But there's more to this than just a friendly joke. Because George Clooney, one of the biggest celebrities in the world, doesn't just want to make himself chuckle; he wants to undermine the entire celebrity economy that gives him his lofty position in the first place.
First, it must be acknowledged that Clooney is a smart man. He's not a grown-up version of Ashton Kutcher, an airheaded frat boy pulling practical jokes that a team of writers dreamed up. Clooney may be a frat boy type and a practical joker, but he knows exactly what he's doing. He has a very solid reason for every career-related move that he makes; look at the crafty, political way he chooses his movies. Except that new one about the old-timey football thing—who knows what that's all about.
The point is, Clooney sees the big picture. Recall his response to the original unveiling of the "Gawker Stalker" map. While lots of celebrities moaned about the intrusion into their privacy and imagined ridiculous implications for their personal safety, Clooney actually had a plan: he told a bunch of entertainment publicists to flood the site with false tips, thereby rendering it useless. It turned out that the Stalker maps are hardly a threat to anyone, and the flood of outrageous fake tips that Clooney inspired eventually disappeared. But he did prove that he was thinking about how to fight back against the celebrity-industrial complex, and even came up with an effective strategy—more than you can say for Brad Pitt, whose decision to fire his publicist will (prediction!) fail to magically allow him to disappear from the eyes of the media.
The problem is that Clooney is a CORNERSTONE of that very same complex. A man who ambitiously rose from a bit part of "The Facts Of Life" to a place in the pantheon of outrageously famous movie stars is hardly a credible spokesman for the cause of anti-publicity. On top of that, the press that Clooney gets is, by celebrity standards, pretty positive. It's impossible to argue that the very same paparazzi and tabloid media that he deplores have not, on balance, been a boon to his career.
And look at it from the poor, poor entertainment reporter's perspective: without some effort at critical coverage, they are bound to feel like nothing more than tools of the equally powerful movie marketing machine. Sure, staking out every nightclub, restaurant, and dwelling place of a celebrity is not really hard-hitting, or even socially redeeming, reporting. But Clooney, whose father was himself a newsman, should understand that it's all part of the package of being a star—a deal that he surely enjoys.
The actor would doubtless say that he supports real journalism, which is all well and good. So do we! But Americans have an unfortunate taste for the minutiae of the lives of their big screen heroes. So perhaps some sort of bargain can be struck. The tabloids can promise to take Clooney's earnest projects seriously, and in return, he can throw them a bone by accepting that his social life will always appear in the gossip pages and on the blogs, until he chooses to retire into obscurity. Besides, even if he were to enlist each and every one of his celebrity friends in his cause of punking the media, it would never work—that story in and of itself would be covered to death, resulting in a level of scrutiny that's equal to the one that the Hollywood types already receive.
So let's all just get along, in the words of famous celebrity Rodney King. Except, of course, for those pranks on the paparazzi. Go right ahead with that. Nobody can stand those guys, anyhow.