Sharon Stone has finally apologized for her "inappropriate" comment that the recent massive Chinese earthquake was a product of "bad karma" for the country for its treatment on Tibet. She's sorry, okay! Nevertheless, fashion house Christian Dior announced that it's pulling all of its ads featuring the actress from all department stores, and the entire country of China. Though the comment itself was stupid, Stone's hasty retreat from her brash Tibet-championing—and Dior's even harsher public rebuke of her—are a great illustration of what is becoming the New China Rule: "Do Not Talk About The New China Rule." It's been de rigeur for top stars to prove their class by endorsing luxury brands, and to prove their morality by pontificating about Tibet. But guess what: pretty soon you're going to have to pick one or the other, Hollywood. And it's not looking good for the Dalai Lama.
Everybody wants IN to the Chinese market. This particularly goes for high-end luxury brands, which are slobbering over the prospect of Chinese people—more than a billion of them!—soon having enough money to start buying their products. As the country gains a stronger middle and upper class, Dior and Armani and Chanel and Vuitton and all their friends are counting on a huge new customer base. Politics be damned!
And all the stars who model for, receive freebies from, or endorse all these brands? They're going to have to shut their traps about Tibet. China accepts no dissent on the issue. The Chinese government will happily blacklist any company foolish enough to publicly raise the issue, and no company would ever do such a thing. Nor will they allow their endorsers to. It's as simple as that. Every major company on earth has, thus far, folded in the face of Chinese totalitarianism, because the promise of their untapped customer base is too good to sacrifice for an abstract political cause. The shareholders want profits, not slogans.
So here's a prediction: In the future, the only Hollywood stars to loudly adopt the Tibet issue will be those who are too old or unpopular to land the juiciest luxury endorsements. Or maybe some of them will willingly ditch their endorsements in order to continue arguing for the cause? Ha ha! Yea, we hope so too. Maybe Richard Gere will stick it out.
Think that's cynical? The same thing has already happened in the sports world. NBA superstar Lebron James refused to sign a letter from ten of his own teammates condemning China's business connection to the atrocities in Darfur. Why? Because he has a $100 million contract with Nike, and the Olympics are coming up in Beijing, and Nike wants a big piece, as well as big peace. Most other big name athletes have already fallen in line as well.
Hopefully the Dalai Lama can do without Beverly Hills.
[Photo via Getty]