It has become alarmingly apparent that pop culture is more important than substantive news reporting. Infamy, which allows vapid “stars” or dubious “celebrities” to insert themselves into the public discourse, has become commonplace.
Witness the curious case of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is in negotiations with CNN to host a one-hour show. In an ironic twist of fate, Spitzer will now be the one getting paid by the hour to perform decadent acts.
If you have watched any TV recently, you have seen that America’s favorite felon, ex- Governor Blagojevich, and his hair are everywhere. Blago’s contracts clearly state that he and his hair have to appear at the same time, just as Donald Trump’s contracts do—except for Groundhog Day, when Trump’s hair has its own gig.
Historically these guys would be carnival sideshow freaks. It seems to me that Blago and Spitzer would be better suited for something on MSNBC or for a show like “To Catch a Predator.”
The ever-political Sean Penn feels compelled to weigh in, with some regularity, on the importance of being Sean Penn.
In our celebrity-driven culture, we are just short of having Dr. Phil appointed Surgeon General to universal applause. Charisma and no substance just won the Presidency. Since the oil spill, Obama has hosted the Duke University basketball team, “worked on his jump shot each day,” flown to California to raise money for Barbara Boxer, let Mexico’s President Calderon to berate us in our own house, and spent a long weekend in Chicago. Some say he is not engaged in the oil spill catastrophe. In his defense, I think he is following it on Twitter. OMG!
The next person putting herself in prime position for a CNN show, a “reality” series, or a Hollywood murder is Lindsay Lohan (a.k.a. “Felonious Drunk”). This international reprobate and scofflaw has distinguished her celebrity status by making a series of bad movies that can only rival J-Lo’s. She is also an inveterate alcoholic who skews lesbian when she starts to lose the attention of the media.
Lohan recently had the high honor and distinct privilege of being ordered by a sober judge to wear an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet. Her punishment would have been more severe, but she agreed to read the L.A. judge’s screenplay in exchange for a reduced sentence. If our government cared as much about monitoring Iran’s nuclear quest as it does Lindsay’s drinking, we could save Israel a lot of trouble.
Hip trendsetters like Paris Hilton get asked to promote gadgets like the Sidekick phone, which gives us reason not to buy it. I hear she was even asked to promote the IPad but, upon trying it, she found it uncomfortable and not very absorbent.
Only the rich or celebrities like Spitzer or Jesse James get called “victims” of some illness when they mess around with hookers. It actually adds to their lure in today’s sorry culture. If you are blue collar in my Tennessee hometown and get caught, it plays out a little differently. Usually a bass boat gets burned or your wife sleeps with a McDonald’s night shift manager to get back at you.
My theory is that that there was a subtle blurring of the line between ordinary people and celebrities when “Diet Secrets of the Stars” was made available at Wal-Mart. The heretofore delicate balance of being a celebrity with abs of steel, thigh-slaying three-minute exercises secrets and purging techniques only known to the stars has forever tipped in America and has made the OctoMom, Jon and Kate Plus 8, Danny Bonaduce and Pamela Anderson possible.
I thought we had seen the last of Pamela Anderson when she had breast reduction surgery, which is Hollywood code for “early retirement.”
I guess it all comes down to money. A friend tells a story about Maury Povich, who plays a lot of golf and is actually a great guy. He was practicing his stroke at a nice club. A member, disapproving of what Povich does for a living on TV, came up and said, “I would not do what you do on your show for $5 million a year.” Maury paused and replied kindly, “You know, I wouldn’t either.”
Ron Hart is a libertarian op-ed humorist columnist, author, TV and radio commentator. He can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or www.RonaldHart.com.