TIBET NOT JUST A CAUSE, IT'S A CELEB STATE OF MIND.Byline: Richard Bernstein The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times
One thing the Academy Awards will not have this year is a speech on Chinese repression in Tibet by Richard Gere, the actor who has led the way in Hollywood's growing concern for Tibetan rights. But in a larger sense, Gere - banned as an Oscar presenter after his televised denunciation DENUNCIATION, crim. law. This term is used by the civilians to signify the act by which au individual informs a public officer, whose duty it is to prosecute offenders, that a crime has been committed. It differs from a complaint. (q.v.) Vide 1 Bro. C. L. 447; 2 Id. 389; Ayl. Parer. of China in 1993 - no longer needs to steal a platform to advance his favorite cause. Whatever happens at the Academy Awards on Monday, Tibet is looming larger than ever on the show business map.
Last June, 100,000 people attended a two-day Free Tibet concert in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , where saffron-robed Buddhist monks talking about their imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.
former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]
German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist. mingled with music groups including the Beastie Boys Beastie Boys is a hip hop musical group from New York City consisting of Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and the official DJ for the group Michael "Mix Master Mike" Schwartz. and Smashing Pumpkins.
In August, at an American Himalayan Foundation The American Himalayan Foundation is a US non-profit that helps improve the ecology and living conditions in the Himalayas (populated by Nepalese, Sherpas, and Tibetans).
It was founded by Richard C. Blum. Edmund Hillary is Honorary President of the Foundation. dinner in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , Harrison Ford, Sharon Stone, Steven Seagal, Shirley MacLaine and other stars lined up to shake the Dalai Lama's hand.
And three weeks ago, at an anniversary benefit for Tibet House in New York, founded 10 years ago by Gere and Columbia University scholar Robert Thurman, the performers included Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass and Natalie Merchant. Honorary chairmen included Roy Lichtenstein, Henry Luce III and Thurman's daughter, Uma.
Most important, perhaps, the isolated mountain kingdom, for the last decade the concern of a relatively small group of scholars, human rights advocates and celebrities, is the subject of four movies being made. Two of them - ``Kundun,'' Martin Scorsese's movie based on the life of the Dalai Lama, and one by Jean Jacques Annaud - are major productions that seem likely to draw worldwide attention to the Tibetans' plight.
``Tibet is going to enter Western popular culture as something can only when Hollywood does the entertainment injection into the world system,'' said Orville Schell, a China scholar who is writing a book on Western conceptions of Tibet. ``Let's remember that Hollywood is the most powerful force in the world, besides the U.S. military.''
Why Tibet rather than some other cause, whether the oppression of women in the Islamic world or the continued detention of the Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Aung San Suu Kyi (oung sän s chē), 1945–, Burmese political leader. , who like the Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize The Nobel Peace Prize (Swedish and Norwegian: Nobels fredspris) is the name of one of five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. laureate?
What is it about Tibet, which has languished in obscurity for most of the last half century, that makes it the cause du jour for celebrities and noncelebrities alike?
The answer has several factors. There is the ferocity of China's actions in Tibet, and China's status in the post-Cold War world as the most important large country still holding another land in subjugation Subjugation
king to whom God sold Israelites. [O.T.: Judges 3:8]
consigned to servitude in retribution for trickery. [O.T.: Joshua 9:22–27]
curses him and progeny to servitude. [O. . But there is also the growing appeal of Buddhism in the United States Buddhism is a religion with millions of followers in the United States, including traditionally Buddhist Asian Americans as well as non-Asians, many of whom are converts. The U.S. , Tibet's remoteness and mysteriousness and the personality of the Dalai Lama.
For Tibet is not just a good cause. Tibet is also a state of mind, a distant place onto which Westerners have long projected their fantasies. No other cause just now contains the full mix of ingredients of the Tibetan plight: the size and growing power of the occupier, the reputation for spirituality of the oppressed op·press
tr.v. op·pressed, op·press·ing, op·press·es
1. To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.
2. , the country's continued image as a pristine place where spirituality takes precedence over materialism.
``The Tibetans are the baby seals of the human rights movement,'' said Thurman, who is in a sense the academic godfather of the Tibetan cause, a former monk turned scholar who has translated some of the Tibetan Buddhist classics into English.
The image is apt, suggesting the innocent, pacific and largely defenseless Tibetans being clubbed by giant, powerful, merciless China. Given the harshness of the Chinese occupation, Tibet is a legitimate and compelling cause.
Dalai Lama in exile
In some ways, the Chinese occupation of Tibet is a very old story. It began in the 17th century, but since China put down an insurrection in 1959 and forced the Dalai Lama, Tibet's political and spiritual leader, into exile, China has sought to eradicate the Tibetan identity, to annex the territory culturally as well as physically, Tibetan activists say.
Chinese spokesmen retort that Chinese rule has brought modern ways to a poverty-stricken and superstitious land run by a kind of medieval theocracy theocracy
Government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations. . But human rights advocates accuse China of closing all but 13 of the small territory's 6,254 Buddhist monasteries, sending thousands of monks to re-education camps, banning the display of photographs of the Dalai Lama, and resettling tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese colonists on Tibetan land.
The argument is that Tibet's existence as a distinct culture is threatened by Chinese policies. And given the acceptance of that accusation in the West and the exotic appeal of Tibet itself, the surprise may be that Tibet took so long to become a celebrity cause.
``The fascination is the search for the third eye,'' said Melissa Mathison, wife of Harrison Ford and the screenwriter of ``Kundun.'' ``Americans are hoping for some sort of magical door into the mystical, thinking that there's some mysterious reason for things, a cosmic explanation.''
Expression of the mystical
Mathison, explaining how she became interested in Tibetan culture, said the first step might be a search for spiritual meaning, which is soon replaced by an awareness of the Tibetans themselves, especially of the personality and character of the Dalai Lama.
``Tibet offers the most extravagant expression of the mystical,'' she said, ``and when people meet his holiness, you can see on their faces that they're hoping to get this hit that will transcend their lives, take them someplace some·place
adv. & n.
Somewhere: "I didn't care where I was from so long as it was someplace else" Garrison Keillor. See Usage Note at everyplace. else.''
In a telephone interview, Gere explained that he first became interested in Tibet more than a decade ago when he became a Buddhist and was introduced to the Dalai Lama during a visit to the leader's home in exile in Dharmsala, India.
``It became clear to me that the situation for the Tibetans was worsening, and they had no public voice, no contact with the media, no presence at the United Nations,'' Gere said. ``They had been gobbled up by the Chinese and had no protector.''
Gere denies that there is a ``critical mass'' of interest building on Tibet. Many of the same people who became interested in Tibet a decade or so ago, he said, are still working for the cause.
The work includes regular meetings in Hollywood and elsewhere, as well as support for institutions like Tibet House in New York and the International Campaign for Tibet The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is a private non-profit advocacy group working to promote democratic freedoms for Tibetans, ensure their human rights, and protect the Tibetan culture and environment. in Washington, a lobbying group with close ties to the Tibetan government in exile A government in exile is a political group that claims to be a country's legitimate government, but for various reasons is unable to exercise its legal power, and instead resides in a foreign country. .
Photo: Patti Smith, left, Oliver Ray, Allen Ginsberg, Ben Harper, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Tibetan monks at a Carnegie Hall benefit for Tibet House.
The New York Times