How Not to Talk to Celebrities at #NerdProm

There are ways of not acting like an idiot during White House Correspondents’ weekend.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
May 2, 2014, 10:52 a.m.

The glow at the Wash­ing­ton Hilton is ex­pec­ted to be a bit dim­mer this year. That’s be­cause, ac­cord­ing to sev­er­al re­ports, few­er stars are at­tend­ing the White House Cor­res­pond­ents’ Din­ner this time around, com­plain­ing they’ve been “pawed at” too much by politicos act­ing like a bunch of kids.

“A lot of the people who have gone say they’ll nev­er do it again,” an an­onym­ous source told The Hol­ly­wood Re­port­er. “The room is so crowded. It’s un­con­trolled. There’s no lim­it to the num­ber of people try­ing to get pho­tos and auto­graphs — and there’s no way to hide from it. It’s like the stars are an­im­als in a cage. People go crazy when they see them. They act like a bunch of kids at the Kids’ Choice Awards.”

That, dis­turb­ingly enough, is an ac­count that res­on­ates. Few places com­bine en­ti­tle­ment and power-grop­ing like Wash­ing­ton, and giv­en the cur­rent vogue for selfies, this year will likely be par­tic­u­larly ter­rible for stars. What fol­lows is a primer on how to act like a nor­mal hu­man around fam­ous people this week­end.

1. Don’t sneak pho­tos of them, par­tic­u­larly when they’re look­ing right at you. It’s creepy. As Peter Dink­lage told the world in a re­cent Red­dit AMA, “The one thing that sort of gets to you are the cam­er­as/cell phones. People try to be sneaky and try to get your pic­ture without com­ing up to you or ask­ing, and that’s what kind of gets to me.” He’d rather people just ask. And no, you are not fool­ing any­one pre­tend­ing to text while you hold your phone at eye level.

2. No one reads bylines, es­pe­cially not celebrit­ies. Don’t ex­pect any­one to be fa­mil­i­ar with your work. Not even that one time you got a link in Play­book.

3. Don’t tell them who they are, though we un­der­stand it’s tempt­ing to verb­al­ize ex­actly what you’re think­ing at that mo­ment. Like, “Oh my god, you’re Sandra Bul­lock!” Yes. It’s true. She knows.

4. Do talk about pro­jects they’ve done that don’t get as much at­ten­tion as their block­buster work, or ask them about about their polit­ic­al pet pro­jects. Ben Af­fleck, for in­stance, would be only too happy to tell you about at­ro­cit­ies in the Congo. He will be less pleased if you un­ex­pec­tedly bare your breasts to him as he’s walk­ing in­to the re­stroom, as someone did (we won’t name names) the last time he at­ten­ded.

5. If a celebrity does agree to talk to you or take a photo, be gra­cious and don’t take up too much of their time. They’re giv­ing you a gift, not the oth­er way around. Un­less you are, say, Eliza­beth War­ren, in which case, thanks for read­ing!

6. If you must selfie, re­con­sider. If you still must selfie, you can­not be helped.

7. Do not talk to them about your book or tele­vi­sion show or movie ideas. Yes, Scan­dal and House of Cards are in­cred­ibly pop­u­lar. No, you are not the next Beau Wil­li­mon.

8. If you ask for an auto­graph (first, why?), pre­tend you’re ask­ing for a small child. In a sense it will be true.

Emma Roller, Marina Koren and Brian Resnick contributed to this article.
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