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The Shame of Fame

Feb
21
2007

I woke up this morning and innocently turned on The Today Show to find out what was going on in the world.
The Today Show is the negotiated background for our morning activities. I prefer silence while Dirtman likes ESPN and the Heirs like MTV. So, as most compromises go, we end up with what no one likes. It’s normally a harmless show, with most of the “information” being the same old skin care-dieting-exercise-nutrition tips with a light sprinkling of actual hard news phrased simply and briefly. And we get local traffic and weather, which comes in handy if you live in the Shenandoah Valley where all the radio stations have become canned and locationless. There is no such thing as local news here. What goes on in the valley, stays in the valley. (Usually nothing is going on in the valley.)
So what is the top story right after the Iraqi War?
Britney Spears shaving her head.
Not only Britney Spears shaving her head, but why we should all feel sorry Britney Spears had the inclination to shave her head. And not only should we feel sorry, but we should feel downright guilty. After all, said the Today Show assembled panel of psychiatrists, Britney has done this because (get ready for this one) she’s tired of being looked at so closely.
Let me repeat that so you can fully savor the full impact of the experts’ analysis.
Britney “I Think Exiting a Limo is A Great Chance for A Second Opinion on My Gynie Exam” Spears wants people to stop looking at her.
Oh! Is that why every picture they show has her in a dress that looks like less Reynolds Wrap than I use to line my broiler pan? Because she doesn’t want to attract attention?
Actually the bigger question I have – and I realize this may only be me – are there Today Show viewers out there who are flooding its producers with e-mails demanding more coverage of pseudo-blondes with train-wreck lives and questionable talent? I suppose I would have tolerated a brief reference to the incident or maybe one of those human interest pieces tacked onto the end of the news segment if time allows. You know, Gorilla Adopts Kitten as Own, Nebraska Man Eats 100 Pounds of Cool Whip.
Instead the show spent 15 minutes analyzing motives and pathologies and cures. I’m told they then returned to the green room where they were last seen banging their heads against the wall in embarrassment. If they didn’t, they should have.
Perhaps Britney was getting a little dismayed, having been bumped from the limelight by three weeks of Anna Nicole Smith coverage. Honestly, who didn’t see that locomotive crossing the rotted wooden trestle? Anna Nicole had ceased to be “human interest.” Even in our jaded society, she just made you want to look away.
Perversely, the media again blames us (by “us” I assume they mean the viewing public, since calling us “the masses” sounds so pompous). It wasn’t rampant drug use and promiscuity that brought down Anna Nicole. It was, apparently, us watching her rampant drug use and promiscuity. Otherwise, she was just a shy, retiring wallflower just trying to blend in with the crowd.
The weekend after Anna Nicole’s death, NPR Weekend Edition commentator Scott Simon took everyone to task for their “self-righteous assumptions” about the celebrity. The most distressing part of that previous sentence is that it has “NPR’s Weekend Edition” and “Anna Nicole” in it together. This is the end of civilization, folks.
Mr. Simon can simper all he wants about Smith “playing the hand that was dealt her” and the NBC expert psychiatrists can talk soothingly of how Spears needs her family to draw together around her. They are not children or mentally handicapped. They are adults, parents even (shudder), and have to reel with life just like the rest of us. In terms of poker hands or blessings or whatever you want to call it, these women and celebrities like them are given more than most. To see it squandered and misused in egocentric hissy fits and stupidity doesn’t make good entertainment.
It makes even worse news.
P.S. Turns out Britney, in true celebrity fashion, dived into rehab Tuesday. So now we can look forward to a month from now when she will emerge vowing to be a role model for other poor, unfortunate millionaires with too much money and too little class.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 8:18 AM | Permalink

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