OMG CHARLIE SHEEN! hide yo’ wife, hide yo’ kids: Why I don’t understand mass media

Like most people, I find mass media both revolting and fascinating. Mostly, I’m intrigued by the narratives that the media gobbles up and how they spit them out. What makes mass media especially (tragically?) ridiculous these days is how they are trying to compete with the rise of the internet and the general cluster fuck that is today’s cultural milieu. A few weeks ago, I was watching a documentary on CNN (my first mistake) about Wolf Blitzer’s trip to North Korea. Although the man is a sorry excuse for such an awesome name, this was a fairly interesting. However, my eyes eventually started wandering across CNN’s convoluted interface and I read some of the headlines appearing on the ticker below: JWOWW confirms sex-tape; Tom Brady cuts hair, etc. I wasn’t appalled at CNN’s pathetic attempt to pander to pop-culture so much as I was confused by how they were doing it. Seriously, if you’re going to be a trashy, MTV-style channel, then do it. If not, be a serious news program. Clearly, what we’re seeing are the producers basically throwing their hands in the air, saying, “Fuck it. I dunno what to do anymore.”

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I ain’t hating on CNN’s hustle; my point is that they’re sloppy and all over the map. Of course they have to contend with the juggernaut that is FOX NEWS. Fox is a real head-scratcher. On the one hand, I admire them for clearly identifying their audience (something most news networks fail miserable at). On the other, I’m horrified by said audience. It’s a simple fact of human nature that people like to have their prejudices reaffirmed, and this is true across all political spectrums. But, goddamn, Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of their Uruk Hai are out of control. And it’s not funny anymore. A lot of people bemoan the behavior of Republicans in America, but what we need to realize, and fast, is that it isn’t the conservative base of the USA that we should be afraid of, but the Fox News hoard. One prominent former-Republican, whose name escapes me, noted awhile back when all this tea party nonsense got started was that the Republicans used to think Fox News worked for them, now he realized the Republicans were working for Fox.

But I digress. Fox News and the neo-con movement is a whole other kettle of fish. What’s puzzling me more the last few days/weeks is the recent wave of celebrity gossip/news. More specifically, Justin Bieber and Charlie Sheen. A little while ago, the Bieb did an interview with Rolling Stone saying all kinds of crazy stuff about health care and abortion. For those of you not keeping count, Bieber basically said he didn’t agree with abortion because “it’s like killing babies.” What’s incredible about this is A) his PR people let him off his chain like that, and B) the public reaction. This may surprise you, but I’m actually going to stand up for Bieber here. Not because I agree with his stance on abortion (another kettle of fish) but because he actually has one at all. That’s right, a 16 year old pop-star has the balls to say something that deviates from the standard fluff interview and everyone loses their shit. Is his position narr0w-minded? Of course, he’s SIXTEEN. But what do we want from celebrities? People piss and moan about how vapid and materialistic Britney Spears and co. were, but when a pop-star suddenly crosses their bourgeois sensibilities and talks about a real issue they cry foul. What do you people want?

Luckily for the Bieb, before this PR debacle got too out of hand, Charlie Sheen had himself a behemoth of a meltdown and it’s been a frenzy ever since. Sex and drug scandals aren’t new to Sheen and we’ve become pretty accustomed to his behavior – hell, most of the humor of his crappy show is how they riff on his reputation as a womanizing party animal – but this recent breakdown is an epic of epic epicness. Now, I won’t get into the details of his latest escapades, as I’m sure you know all about it. What I want to point out is that lost amidst all his, admittedly hilarious, absurdity is that Charlie Sheen is a disgusting human being and we’re absolutely enabling and condoning his behavior.

Womanizing, excessive drug use, etc. is oftentimes dismissed as the lovable antics of a playboy or “bad boy” but Charlie Sheen is actually the evil love child of Chris Brown, R Kelly, and Amy Winehouse. I’m pulling this from memory, and maybe some of you gossip junkies can confirm or discredit some of these, but he has shot an ex-gf, he’s threatened to kill another, and was left by another, claiming he was into child porn. The drug use, you’re all aware of. Why we’re so ready to demonize the aforementioned celebrities but let Sheen slide, I’m not sure, but I’m sure race and gender are obvious tip-offs.

Now, I don’t want y’all to read this and think I’m being all didactic, wagging my finger, saying, “You shouldn’t be paying attention to any of this! Go read a book!” Because, quite frankly, the twitter posts, the rants against television producers and AA, the rambling interviews, and the pictures of him flying jets with porn stars are all hilarious, and I have had my fair share of lols. What confuses me is the mainstream’s treatment of the whole thing. Sadly, like all the other times, Sheen will emerge from this relatively unscathed and will be back for another season to Two and a Half Men, with more viewers than ever, making some ungodly amount of money. I suppose we should’ve all seen this coming way back in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…

cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on March 7, 2011.

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