Celebrities better watch out. For what they say or sign may well provoke an unimaginable backlash. We saw this at Cannes a couple of years ago, when Danish auteur Lars Von Trier's jocular remark about Hitler got half the world angry, and the festival had to declare him persona non-grata. He had to leave Cannes.
Now, Spanish actor Penelope Cruz and actor-husband Javier Bardem have put their pen into the wrong signing slot. And Hollywood is angry, very angry. The two undoubtedly great artists have condemned Israel for its military strikes in Gaza. Those who wield power and money in the tinsel world are strong supporters of Tel Aviv and its policies.
Cruz and Bardem are among the 100 film luminaries who have signed a recently circulated Spanish letter which terms Israeli action against Palestine "genocide". The signatories also included Spanish movie legend Pedro Almodovar, the man who made Penelope.
It is now feared that actors like Cruz and Bardem can suffer Hollywood backlash and boycott.
There are two sides to this ongoing conflict in West Asia. The anti-Israel lobby feels that the country has been advancing into Palestine territories, while those in favour say that Hamas' sophisticated tunnel network and hundreds of missile attacks against Israeli citizens do not make Palestine any less guilty. This is immediately countered by Tel Aviv supporters, who ask whether anybody can extinguish the fire of anti-Semitism raging all over the world.
However, there is a third group -- including Barbra Streisand, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg - which has chosen to keep it mouth shut. And they are moneybags.
There are still others who think that artists should not be penalised for airing their personal views. Do not create a blacklist, they aver.
Cruz and Bardem are now shooting in South Africa for Sean Penn's The Last Face. And hopefully not their last Hollywood outing.