Monday, December 13, 2010

"I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance." (Reuben Blades)

The modern human fascination with mindless entertainment has served to make stars out of a number of people with no apparent ability or talent. In many cases, it seems like Andy Warhol was hopelessly optimistic when he limited the fame of these non-stars to only fifteen minutes.

For example, why is it that I can go to Google News, and right there on the front page, I can find out that Bristol Palin "has to be happy" about Levi Johnston's new girlfriend? I mean, COME ON!!! This story doesn't answer any burning questions in my life; it only raises other questions!! Questions like "Why does "E! Online" come up on a Google News search? Wouldn't that be more appropriate for a Google Crap search?

I mean, really? Levi has been dating Sunny Oglesby, a day-care instructor, for two months? And Bristol is happy because "it sounds like his new girlfriend is influencing him to want to actually spend time with Tripp"?

And this is news how, exactly? Because a woman named after a British town is cheerful about a pair of jeans getting involved with an adjective for "not cloudy," who makes him want to visit his son Stumble?

Or to put it another way, sometimes you have to ask yourself why the fuck Bristol Palin is still in the news. Or really, why was she ever in the news at all?

(Please note that I fully understand the irony of going on at length, as I'm about to do, about a woman who's getting too much press. That would be part of my charm, if I had any.)

As an example, here's a report from another internet gossip rag calling itself Pop Eater, which asks the question of the ages: Is Bristol Palin a Bigger Star Than Her Mom Now?

Yes, you read that right. And this guy's reasoning is a fascinating exercise in logical fallacies.
"Without any doubt Bristol is now the biggest star in the Palin household," an A-list Hollywood publicist tells me. "At the moment I would argue she's one of the biggest stars out there."
Quick breakdown of that paragraph.

1. Without any doubt - completely unsupported statement.
2. The biggest star in the Palin household - Funny thing. Since only 1 in 4 adults think Sarah Palin, a political figure, is qualified to be president, it's actually difficult to tell how low that bar actually is.
3. an A-list Hollywood publicist tells me - Funny how this guy is anonymous, isn't it?
4. At the moment I would argue - "Don't ask me what I'd say in another five minutes, though."
5. she's one of the biggest stars out there - Undefined term. Are we talking "name recognition"? Sure, she's got some of that. What about "actual accomplishments," though?

But I digress.
Easy, now. It's true that Bristol is finally finding her voice (with the help of a speechwriter, as Billy Bush opined this week on 'Access Hollywood') and this added attention along with her success on 'Dancing' has led to a whole host of offers and opportunities for the young mom. Books, reality shows, product endorsements... you name it, she's been offered it.

One weekly celeb magazine editor tells me Bristol is "the new Kim Kardashian" on the scene.
Kim Kardashian. Ooh, there's something to aspire to.
"She's beautiful and real and not another one of those skinny Hollywood types. Add that she was a teen mom, which is very in right now with the MTV show and all, and you couldn't have written a better or more dramatic personal story. Sarah is yesterday's news. Bristol is today."
So, what makes Bristol so fascinating? She's the daughter of a failed vice-presidential candidate.

In 2004, John Edwards was John Kerry's VP candidate. Prior to his wife dying two weeks ago, had you heard anything about his kids? I just looked it up - there's four of them, ranging in age from 31 to 10. (Wow...)

But there's Bristol, right out there in the public eye. She doesn't have any discernible talent, she doesn't act, she doesn't sing, and, let's be honest, she really doesn't dance.

It's widely known that Bristol should have been bumped from Dancing With the "Stars." After all, the person consistently scoring as the worst dancer is normally voted off of a contest that isn't rigged, right? But the zombie-like followers of her mother gamed the system; they kept her in by cheating. Openly.

Now, admittedly, despite Sarah's insistence that the press needed to leave her family alone, she was the first one to push them into the spotlight. And since Sarah's kind of a media whore herself, her kids are still getting light reflected off of her. But Bristol seems to be pushing herself to the front of the Palin crowd as much as she can. And our media is doing everything it can to help her.

The whole thing gets ridiculous fast. The media, starved for any actual content, has decided to promote every response she makes to anyone, positive or negative, as evidence of a "feud." They've decided that she's feuding with Keith Olbermann because he made fun of her making a commercial for abstinence.

Now, note the caption: "(Not really) World's Worst." Even Olbermann knew this wasn't really a bad thing, but it was somebody being stupid, and he could call them out on it.

Bristol, part of a thin-skinned family, fired off a response on Facebook (the only way the Palins communicate any more), talking about Olbermann's "insincere incredulity," and apologizing for "not being absolutely faultless like he undoubtedly must be."

Then there's her "feud" with Margaret Cho, probably the least feud-like of all. Cho blogged the following:
Why did Bristol do Dancing with the Stars? I heard from someone who really should know (really should seriously know the dirt really really) that the only reason Bristol was on the show was because Sarah Palin forced her to do it. Sarah supposedly blames Bristol harshly and openly (in the circles that I heard it from) for not winning the election, and so she told Bristol she “owed” it to her to do DWTS so that "America would fall in love with her again" and make it possible for Sarah Palin to run in 2012 with America behind her all the way. Instead of being supposedly "handicapped" by the presence of her teen mom daughter, now Bristol is going to be an "asset" – a celebrity beloved for her dancing. I am sure the show wasn’t in on this (but who knows anything really)
But Cho spent the majority of the post asking why people talked about Bristol's weight, and pointing out that she wasn't really fat.

To this, Bristol replied (again, on Facebook) with a long post, where she showed insincere incredulity about Margaret Cho's opinion, and ending with:
To my friend Margaret Cho, if you ever have a question, call me girlfriend. Don't ever rely on "sources" who claim to know me or my family. You will be taken every time. And we need to talk. You say you "don't agree with the family's politics at all" but I say, if you understood that commonsense conservative values supports the right of individuals like you, like all of us, to live our lives with less government interference and more independence, you would embrace us faster than KD Lang at an Indigo Girls concert.
("If you ever have a question, call me girlfriend." Did Bristol just come out? Did Levi put her off men entirely?)

OK, let's contrast two parts of that statement. "if you understood that commonsense conservative values supports the right of individuals like you" - You think the GOP is pro-gay, Bristol? I've never thought you were stupid before. Just naive.

I mean, you obviously know that Cho is gay. Look at the last bit there: "you would embrace us faster than KD Lang at an Indigo Girls concert." - have you ever actually talked to any gay people? Do you think that they go around making out with every other gay person they meet?

OK, maybe "stupid" is unfair. After all, look at the poisonous gene pool she sprang from. When your mother makes a career out of openly dishonest statements, the cognitive dissonance is probably built into your personality.

But that leads us to the one truly mean-spirited one: Kathy Griffin, who is actually less newsworthy than Bristol Palin. Let me start out by saying that I've never thought that Kathy Griffin was particularly funny - she's a shock jock, saying outrageous things in an effort to get publicity. But when Griffin called Bristol fat, that was a little over the top. After all, Kathy, just because Bristol isn't as cadaverously thin as you are, you probably don't need to call her "fat." (Hey, at least Bristol has breasts - why do you even bother wearing a bra?)

(And by the way, wasn't it you who talked about nearly dying due to a botched liposuction a few years ago? Are you seeing the irony here, Kathy?)

However, Griffin does manage to give us the best example I can think of to highlight the dangers of the American mania for meaningless minutia.

It’s actually not the man so outraged by Dancing With the Stars that he shot his television - although that is an excellent example of why the Second Amendment should possibly not be a universal right.

It would be the fact that both Kathy Griffin and Bristol Palin are receiving death threats.

Because of a woman barely out of her teens. Dancing.

No comments: