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Oh Sandy, My Darling

The facile stereotype of Internet users is that they are obsessed with the two Ss: sex and Star Trek. The truth, or at any rate the more perceptive stereotype, is that they are obsessed with three Ss: sex, Star Trek and Sandy.

To most of the world, Sandra Bullock is a rising but still marginal movie star. On the Web, she is "one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood," "the best actress of our time," and "the most desirable woman on the planet."

Botticelli
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With well over one hundred sites in her honor, Sandra Bullock is the star of far more home pages than films. But for all the gigabytes of memory expended, Bullock's chroniclers reveal less about the actress than about themselves, and Web culture in general.

The popular myth is that the uncensored, unregulated Web makes information more accessible. The Sandra

Bullock phenomenon suggests the opposite. If there were just one official site, finding a film review, a photo, or another, more revealing photo would be easy. But because there are so many places to check, and because most of them are so similar, tracking down anything mildly unusual, like the picture of Sandy as a high school cheerleader, is at best tedious, and at worst hopeless.


THE SANDRA BULLOCK SONG by Charles D. Herold (c) 1995

Does anyone have Sandra Bullock's e-mail address?
I'd like to drop her a line.
To tell her that I love her and I think that she's great
And that she ought to be mine
And when she sees that I have such sincerity
She'd be so moved that she'd have to write back to me
If anyone has Sandra Bullock's e-mail address
Please send it to me.

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The typical Sandra Bullock home page, and precious few are anything but, includes the following:

1. A dubiously spelled or punctuated statement of personal devotion:

"She has taking the hearts of so many, yet she has given so much. She really is America's 'Sweetheart' and probably one of the most likable and cutest actresses working today."

"Of all the women Captain Nerd has encountered Sandra Bullock comes closest to being the ideal woman! Smart without being pretentious, nice without being cloying, silly, but not a ditz, she's just an all-American girl!"

The unabashed swooning is so disarming that it almost seems a shame to point out to Captain Nerd (especially given his admirable self-awareness) that the

word "encountered" usually implies a two-way activity.

2. An exhaustive filmography.

The first time you see that Bullock appeared in Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman it's amusing. The sixth time, you wonder if every homepage needs such an exhaustive filmography.

3. A breathless 200-word biographical sketch.

Or rather, the breathless 200-word biographical sketch, since every site has the same one, occassionally reworded slightly but never enough to render it interesting.

4. Photos.

Anywhere between four and 40, but always the one of Sandy in black satin underwear.

sandymag
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5. A conspicuous abscence of reviews, images or discussion of Bullock's most recent film, the disastrous Two if by Sea.

Fire on the Amazon can be laughed off as an early mistake, but there's too much at stake now to admit that Sandy may have a bomb strapped to her speeding bus.

Scads of Links

Occassionally, a page offers something that only five or six others also include. If it's a tidbit of personal information, it will invariably be overemphasized, as in, "She loves Chocolate and KFC Extra crispy Chicken!" Is that really a statement that deserves an exclamation point and three gratuitous capital letters?

For entertainment value, the best material can be found on pages written in English by non-native speakers. One German fan related, "As could be read and heard in various interviews, she is very keen at trying out everything, due to which she obviously found fun in doing some handy-man work in her own house." Obviously.

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On another page, there's a proposal for a "SandraBulloCon." "I've been trying to come up with a controllable way for Sandra Bullock and her fans from around the country to get together," writes Steve Cross. His dream convention includes "fans of Ms. Bullock wearing costumes resembling those she has worn in her films, with a panel of judges and prizes...If it were well done, Sandra would enjoy it too." How could she not?

As Bullock is universally acknowledged to have "the greatest voice", excuse me, "the greatest voice :-)", several pages have sound clips. Sadly, the actress too often sqanders her great voice on inanities, or, to give her the benefit of the doubt, profound utterances that are rendered inane when taken out of any possible context. Thus one "sound file you must have!" is catalogued as "Sandy saying: 'and...and...obtainable.'" That'll only take you fifteen minutes to download.


She seems so truly nice just like the girl next door
So gentle and true
There is a girl who happens to live next to me
I've never spoke to.
It's hard to meet a girl and start up a romance
I'm sure with Sandra Bullock I've a better chance.
If anyone has Sandra Bullock's e-mail address
Please send it to me.

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Interestingly, the decision to sample, "and...and...obtainable," does reveal something about Sandra Bullock's appeal to her Web fans, on some level, they believe she really is. Like most women that Net nerds find attractive, Bullock is utterly nonthreatening. Just an all-American girl. What puts Sandy ahead of the pack is that she affects a pose of being computer-literate. She was in a movie called The Net, and she owns and uses a modem. She is, the Captain Nerds feel, one of us.

True, the only thing Bullock has said is she has an AOL account that she uses for e-mail and lurking in chat rooms. Ordinarily that would elicit nothing but scorn from the truly wired, but because it's Sandy, she is hailed as the official cyberspace spokesmodel.

The idea that Bullock is out there somewhere greatly affects the content of her Web shrines. While Usenet's alt.fan.sandra-bullock is overrun with fake nudie pictures and desperate pleas for her e-mail address,


I hear she cruises the Internet and I think that's kewl
I do not talk to girls offline as a general rule.
But I think Sandra is really fine
Even if she is on America On Line.

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Bullock's web pages are paragons of decorum.Enough so to render them suspicious. "I respect Sandy too much to view and put those kinds of Pictures here," sniffs Subzero, speaking for everyone who maintains a Sandy homepage, in response to the request, "let's see some tity." Tity?

And virtually every page launches a pre-emptive strike along the following lines: "Before you ask, no, I don't have her E-Mail address. Even if I did", as if that would happen, "I would not give it out. I respect her privacy."

After seeing so much respect, so conspicuously displayed, it becomes obvious what's really going on. These folks are not really addressing the freaks who want to get off on fake "tity" and pester Bullock with e-mail, they are addressing Sandy herself. Letting her know that they can be trusted. So that she can e-mail them. And maybe, once she gets to know them, she'll send them real nude photos. And then, maybe she'll invite them to be her date for the Oscars.

When "Two if by Sea" is nominated for Best Picture.   </end>

DANIEL RADOSH is a New York based freelance writer who is a frequent contributor to the New York Press, Details, the New York Times Magazine and The Transom. Radosh was a senior contributor to alt.culture, an encyclopedia of alternative pop culture from Harper Perennial.
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