Pop Culture Smackdown

A lot has happened of late, both in my private world and the big ol’ real world, and I’ve been focusing mostly on me.
Let’s do something different here for a change. I’m gonna weigh in on some of the things Twitter and tabloids have been talking about from the last month or so.
I was winding through BC’s mountains on a Greyhound coach when I received a text message, “Michael Jackson’s dead!”
My heart went through the bottom of the bus. I couldn’t believe how that one hit me. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan until he started becoming Whacko Jacko in the ’90s.
What killed me, I guess, wasn’t so much that he was dead, but that he’d come so close to what he said would be his redeeming day. I wanted him redeemed. I wanted him to have some of his former glory. I’ve long believed he was a misunderstood guy and slowly drifted into a weird, weird altered reality, and the drugs never helped.
The record industry is changing, it’s never going to be the same, and it’s arguable that, with a new, more scattered, more freeform recording world, there will NEVER be someone who dominates pop culture to the extent of Michael Jackson and the way he did when Billie Jean exploded into interstellar territory back in ’83.
If he’s found to have ingested any of the highly verboten surgical painkillers, etc, alleged in some reports, and considered illegal to prescribe, I’d like to see the doctors who got them for him to be charged with murder.
As someone who has enjoyed marijuana in the past, I loathe the hypocrisy that exists in the legal world regarding very destructive drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin that are prescribed like they’re candy, while something passive like marijuana is cracked down upon with the same vengeance as a horrific drug like meth is. I don’t get it.
And physicians who are operating like these fuckos who are overprescribing drugs that are turning America into land of the distracted zombie, they’re flat-out shattering their Hippocratic oaths. They promised to do no harm. NO harm. Fat chance.
Now we’ve lost both Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson to these negligent overprescribing fuckwits, and countless other unfamous ordinary people who got medicated out of existence. Yeah, murder. They need to start paying for their neglect and apathy. Charges of murder and manslaughter work for me. Not fines, not suspensions. Time. Lots and lots of time. Behind big fat bars.
Know how marriages stay together after kids? With private time. And sex. And communication. And shared duties. And mutual respect.
In a little house with 10 people, 8 of them being high-maintenance energetic toddlers, crammed with TV cameras and stage hands, it’s not surprising that this marriage lost a certain je ne sais quoi. But why everyone’s so surprised is beyond me. I’ve never been a fan of the show, I watched maybe 2 episodes when I had cable, but the little I saw screamed of a loveless marriage.
Any onscreen interview, there was easily a foot, maybe more, between the couple on the couch. They never turned their heads to look at the other while the other spoke, they never touched in a tender way. I don’t give a fuck what happens in the show, when they’re on that couch, THAT body language, THAT tells you everything.
Because look at America’s golden couple, the Obamas. They sit next to each other. They often touch in subtle but tender ways. But they always look at each other when the other speaks in an interview, but more importantly, you can see them actively listening. They don’t drift off when the other’s speaking, they actually give a shit.
The problem with the viewing public is, they take the story they’re given and don’t look at the human elements. Their divorce was there onscreen a long time ago, people.
As for how it’s being handled? WHEW. The show should go off air. It never should’ve gone ON the air. Those children didn’t consent to growing up in front of the camera. That’s plain wrong. I am hopeful in the next few years some kid from some reality show grows up and sues the SHIT out of their parent and says, “I NEVER asked for my life, my flaws, my weak moments, my embarrassments to be piped into the homes of millions of viewers.” Right to privacy should exist for kids.
The divorce needs the respect it deserves, it needs to be a real and careful transaction conducted with respect by two parties who don’t see eye-to-eye anymore. Not a fucking gong show so adspace can be sold.
waltercronkiteThe last of Murrow’s great truthspeaking men has left us. An era of golden journalism has come to a close.
I’m told by a good many people that one of my most endearing qualities both as a blogger and on Twitter, never mind in real life, is my tendency to Say It Like It Is. I mean, it’s true. You want an opinion? This is the girl to ask. But I’m also a fierce fighter for public good when I think I see injustices. I’m an opinion-editorial writer at heart, and it shows all the time. I cannot edit my opinion out of myself. I launch into rants in nearly every conversation I have in real life, too. Even ask my coworkers. It’s me, to my core.
I got a journalism degree way back when, stuffed in some box somewhere. I got it on the idealistic principal that journalists could still change the world. Like how Cronkite came back from Vietnam, said the war was wrong and America had lost its way, and the President heaved a sigh and said “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the American people.”
Because once upon a time, some journalists — Mencken, Murrow, Cronkite — believed the two most valuable assets of a journalist were their integrity and their commitment to the truth.
Journalism may be well and good these days, with the advent of bloggers and the dichotomy of investigation that exists between the corporate and the rogue indie worlds out there, but there is no irrefutable source like there used to be. There’s no one you can turn to and go, “No, absolutely, they’re right. THAT’s what I believe, because I KNOW I can trust them.”
Sure, some folk will tell you there are journalists they trust implicitly, but I can’t think of any who hasn’t been at the helm under some factual gaffe. I can’t think of any yet who has proven he’s really in it for the Kantian “greater good”, that truth wins. Why? Because they fucked up under George W. Bush and failed to speak truth to power in the dark days after 9/11, when America needed someone to stand up and say, “I know you’re hurting, I know we’re all rah-rah-America, but what we’re doing is wrong, this war is wrong, the facts don’t support it, we don’t trust what our government is telling us, and we don’t think you should, either, and here’s why.”
And none did. Not for years. They failed that test. They failed The Big Test in America’s Darkest Days. They failed to ask the right questions of banks and businesses that kept reporting unlikely and inexplicable profits. They failed to warn America it was headed into dubious financial waters as things started going strange in recent years. Journalism has failed us. Period. I don’t give a fuck WHO you love, they all failed us when we needed them the most, in 2001-2004.
Journalists today are personalities. I have high hopes for the ilk of Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper, and time will tell, now that they had their asses handed to them for their roles in the negligent journalism of the last decade. I thought Tim Russert would carry the mantle, but that didn’t go so well.
All we can hope is that telling the truth, effecting change, and keeping your word will be sexy to the new generation of soothsaying anchors and bloggers.
Look at Cronkite. That’s how journalism is done. Objective until being objective hurts the people — when he realized the war in Vietnam had lost its purpose and the losses did and always would outweigh the gains, he spoke up. When he felt the government was doing wrong to the people, he said so. For eight years, the American press slept at the wheel while personal freedoms were eroded, laws were bent and broken, and coverups were de rigeur. Cronkite lamented it. He spoke up.
See, that’s the trick with speaking truth to power, oh Journalists of Today — it requires you actually SPEAK.

1 thought on “Pop Culture Smackdown

  1. David

    Journalism has been broken for a lot longer than eight years. Consider the wall-to-wall coverage of the Clinton investigations or the O.J. Simpson trial. Ever since 24-hour news became a profitable venture, meaningful journalism has been hard to find. I don’t know when “talk radio” became conflated with journalism, but that hasn’t helped, either.
    Some point to Keith Olbermann, who has co-opted Murrow’s “Good night, and good luck” signoff, as the next to carry the torch, but he’s much too strident too much of the time. Maybe that’s not his fault. I don’t know how you’d even get heard if you were even-handedly reporting on the day’s news in the modern climate.
    I can’t tell the difference between a modern-day journalist and a celebrity anymore. Even Jim Lehrer goes on The Colbert Report. It’s really not that hard to play a clip of someone in power saying one thing and another clip of them contradicting themselves a month later. One might be inclined to call that “journalism.” But we are fucked if that’s all we can muster. Not that the vast, drooling majority of the mainstream would notice if they woke up in a police state tomorrow as long as their cable TV still worked.
    When some of the most meaningful exercises in truth happen on a network called Comedy Central, things are askew.

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