It’s No PR Stunt
Five lessons we can learn from Sandra Bullock's secret adoption.
By Raina Kelley | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Apr 29, 2010
Kudos to People magazine for the celebrity scoop of the year. Sandra Bullock is a mom. Turns out all the time we were (or weren't) hoovering up the gossip about her soon-to-be ex-husband Jesse James's infidelities, trashy mistresses, and disturbing fascination with Nazis, Bullock wasn't drowning in her own misery and despair. She was home taking care of the cutest baby I've seen since my own son was born. Those cheeks! He's just a butterball of adorable. Louis Bardo Bullock, now 3½ months old, looks to be the apple of his mother's eye, and I'm happy for them both. Now, I'm not going to go all holier than thou on you (OK, yes I am), but there are some lessons we can learn from this whole sordid episode and its weirdly happy ending.
1. Dr. Drew Pinsky is an ass. Though he may have once been a fine medical professional, he is now, by all appearances, a hack. On CBS's The Early Show, Dr. Drew diagnosed Bullock with a love addiction, which he defined as a condition suffered by a person who "doesn't have good boundaries around themselves. It's someone who has a distorted version of themselves in intimate encounters. They need that other person to be bigger than life—the person they need them to be—and they superimpose that on the other person, and really don't see the things that could get them into trouble—and did in this case." First of all, love addiction must be a huge and intractable national problem because Drew's definition fits all of the people I've ever met in my entire life. Have you ever met anybody who didn't idealize their loved one or fail to see the signs that they were creeps? It's kinda like saying food addicts are "people who intend to eat just one cookie but end up eating the whole box." Second, Dr. Drew never even spoke to Bullock. All the therapists I've ever met (Yes, I've been in therapy. Isn't it obvious?) wait to actually meet you and hear what you have to say before diagnosing you. And, I've certainly never interviewed a mental-health professional who felt comfortable recommending a course of treatment for a stranger. I'm no expert but I suspect Dr. Drew is a fame addict.
2. The trick to keeping a secret is not to tell anybody. That's the only way I've ever been able to keep one. So I'm not exactly sure why there needs to be any discussion into how Sandra did it as there is here and here. The world may have many more ways of getting information than it did just five years ago, but the recipe for discretion has never changed.
3. The real heroes (if there must be heroes) are Sandra Bullock's true friends. Not the posers who speak to In Touch and US Weekly. Isn't it fascinating that suddenly all the "insiders" and "close sources" have shut the hell up. Before the People scoop, they couldn't stop gabbing about Sandra's desolation but I guess they must have talked to her on the phone because no one ever mentioned a baby. Whoever that small group of people is who have been helping Sandra start her new life with her new baby, they prove the Tennessee Williams adage that "life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose."
4. Life is not a series of PR stunts staged for our personal amusement. The Los Angeles Times congratulated Sandra Bullock on what it called "one of the most ninja public-relations moves we've seen out of an A-list celebrity since Angelina Jolie hooked up with the United Nations." Look, I'm as cynical as anybody else, but I just don't think Sandra Bullock was so concerned about what her husband's stupid behavior would do to her fans' opinion of her that she ran to New Orleans and scooped up a baby. Seriously, you have to either be one of the most derisive people in the world (or the most naive) to actually believe something like that. Sure, stars do stuff to get our attention all the time, but it's usually limited to too many plastic surgeries, a ridiculous relationship, or a stint in rehab.
5. Look, Ma! You can adopt black children in America. A lot has been said already about the fact that Louis is black and his mother is white. I am a big fan of giving a home to a child who doesn't have one and I have no problem with interracial adoption. So I'm thrilled that this adoption could not only signal the end to the myth that white people cannot adopt black children in this country but also publicize the problem of unadopted black children. Over at TheGrio.com, there's a really good story about a study done by the California Institute of Technology, New York University, and the London School of Economics that found that a baby who is not African-American is seven times more desirable to potential adoptive parents in America than a black baby. Although all of the parents in the study were white, surprisingly Latino and white children fared about the same. We need to encourage whatever gets these kids into the hands of a loving parent. And if that means a black child ends up with a fabulously wealthy white mother who intends to raise him in the city where he was born, so be it. And besides: the president's mother was white and he did OK.