Say Anything: HuffPost Live Presents John Cusack’s Ramblings On The Mortgage Crisis

cusack Say Anything: HuffPost Live Presents John Cusacks Ramblings On The Mortgage Crisis

John Cusack, policy expert.

Hollywood actor John Cusack has developed some strong opinions on the mortgage crisis. He’s been doing some reading, even talking to a few experts, and is reasonably well-informed about a plan some California cities have to use eminent domain to seize troubled mortgages.

Those of you curious to hear what Lloyd Dobler thinks about a complex policy initiative can now satisfy that curiosity in a poorly-produced, 15-minute long video of John Cusack discussing these issues. Mr. Cusack shares his expertise during a painfully long HuffPost Live video, kicking off the first day of Huffington Post’s video news initiative in true Huffington Post fashion. Appearing via Google Hangouts, Mr. Cusack has a badly organized discussion with Arianna Huffington, segment host John Zepps, a random homeowner in California and John Vlahoplus, the guy who’s pitching the plan and the lone expert in the group.

But the discussion isn’t the only thing that’s out of focus. Mr. Cusack’s overexposed face is a barely-recognizable blob of white beneath his dark floppy hair. A Hollywood star should never be asked to set-up his own shot, of course, and this proves that perhaps they might even need help setting up their own webcam. Moreover, we understand that HuffPost Live wanted to stay with the low-budget, disorganized look of the mother ship, but they might want to cut the length of their video segments to under 15 minutes if they don’t want to make viewers nauseous.

The segment begins, without introduction, as a ghostly Mr. Cusack launches into the topic without preamble: “And so I thought they could give people a view from 30,000 feet. What America would look like if those numbers actualized. John, what do you see coming as far as the next wave of mortgage foreclosures that’s coming and what will America look like if we do nothing?”

We cut to Mr. Vlahoplus, also appearing via webcam, who says his piece before we finally go to the studio/newsroom where Ms. Huffington and Mr. Zepps sort of explain what they’re talking about, or at least explain that Matt Taibbi wrote an article about it for Rolling Stone. “Can we get a snapshot of my laptop?” Mr. Zepps asks the cameraman. The camera goes to the screen of the wrong laptop. “That’s not my laptop, actually,” Mr. Zepps  corrects. And so on.

The next 12 minutes are mostly Ms. Huffington and Mr. Cusack agreeing with each other about how exciting the idea is and how passionate they both are about it.

Representative quotes:

Ms. Huffington: “If you see the string of emails that John has sent me over these last few weeks, you see this passion, this sense of urgency that has been missing.”

Mr. Cusack: “That’s what seemed to be so exciting about it, that it’s passing, um, Washington completely and going on a civic level, right to local communities and taking action. They certainly didn’t create this crisis and chop up all these houses into derivatives that can never be put back together again.”

Occasionally, we hear from Mr. Vlahoplus, except for when he briefly steps away from his computer, or the random homeowner, although his sound cuts out most of the time so we can’t really tell what he’s saying. He probably can’t afford a new computer because he’s pouring all his money into his underwater mortgage.

Are you wondering why people would watch a 15-minute video of a movie star and a media mogul having an ill-informed discussion about the mortgage crisis via web cam? Doesn’t life present enough opportunities to watch people having meandering, opinionated conversations about topics that they read about in The New Yorker a few months ago?

Aha, but that’s what people have always turn to the Huffington Post for! To see people with familiar names who don’t know what they’re talking about talk about things.

kvelsey@observer.com