International Writers Magazine:Celeb
News Reality Check
Nothing escapes its
unblinking eye. Politics. Celebrity. Sports. Citizenry. Electronic surveillance
by rabid paparazzi has altered election results, fixed games, and besmirched
reputations. Every segment of our civilization is open for broadcast,
and once the images are etched on our collective psyche, there's a disturbing
pertinence attached that has spawned outlaws aplenty.
Is On Camera & Everyone Is Guilty
The Medium is the Message.
- Marshall McLuhan
The entire planet
is televised, web-cammed, You-Tubed, Google-Earthed, camera-phoned,
amateur-videoed, and 24-hour cable networked. We're being watched.
And the spies are recording it all for posterity; every ugly, petty,
pockmarked close-up in our grab-bag culture is fair game now; a
voyeur generation transmitting the distracting glimmer of McLuhan's
global village for our infinite consumption.
It is poetic that O.J. Simpson, Godfather of News Obsession,
is now the victim of a botched audio sting that's reduced the shreds of
his already tattered existence to that of Hugo's Hunchback spinning in
the town square .We cannot turn away. He is our carnival freak. And now,
in the tent of horrors...
With the assistance of smirking mug shots and stirring images
of handcuff marches from cruiser to jailhouse, the courtroom scowl, and
the obligatory car route coverage from a helicopter, there is a nostalgic
ring to it all. One has to wonder if the Juice could be slapped with 11
crimes, ten of which are felonies, for some memorabilia re-heist and a
sloppy cell phone abduction now, what level of gruesome beheading shots
a crafty video-phone passerby might have streamed online had the infamous
murders of 1994 been committed in the summer 2007 instead?
Oh, and now I hear O.J. is out on bail. Last time we endured
that scenario he was tooling in the backseat of a SUV with a pistol to
his head weeping like a soap opera queen. I'm laying odds there will be
a suicide and/or fugitive video coming soon.
YouTube is the latest big gorilla in the showroom. Not only
does it provide a forum for a glut of free and self promotion, it is also
a fine spot to upload damning video of celebrities and politicians. Two
prominent victims of the site include David Hasselhoff, whose drunken
meltdown made headlines for weeks and led him to lose visitation rights
of his two daughters. The other is former Virginia Senator George Allen
Jr. and his "macaca" comment deftly caught on tape by a rival's
spy camera, which made him look like the bull redneck at a Klansman picnic.
The footage literally cost Allen an election he was destined to win and
ultimately destroyed a career path which had weirdos predicting would
culminate in the White House.
A few days ago what police term a "profanity-laced
rap video" posted on YouTube garnered the rappers felony charges
for terrorist threats, conspiracy to commit second-degree assault against
cops, and tampering with a judicial officer.
A few days before that a McDonald's security camera caught
a bunch of white punk kids picking on a black kid because, according to
the black kid, he was with a white girl or some other normal kids-being-mutants
nonsense, but since the thing was on tape, it has unleashed the predictable
parade of race-bating preachers and dung-sniffing lawyers. We only know
about this because it was on the local news, the bane of amateur video
If only someone had captured my ass-whippings when I was
Then we have what Brian Williams called "a dramatic
and troubling piece of videotape that has ignited a debate on free speech
rights in this country" on the NBC network evening news. Followed
by a blurry video with distorted sound of University of Florida journalism
student, Andrew Meyer on the ground screaming in pain as a gang of bully
cops taser him into submission at a John Kerry speaking engagement. In
all due respect to Williams and the holy-than-thou stance of anchormen
everywhere, the footage is neither "dramatic" nor "troubling".
It was staged and therefore predictable. It has nothing to do with the
suppression of free speech, but the exercise of it.
First off, if NBC or really anyone beyond the true democracy
of YouTube had bothered to show the entire video, we'd see Meyer step
to the microphone and proceed to give an impassioned but barely coherent
diatribe on bogus 2004 election results and a plea to impeach the president,
while baiting the crowd and the police, who are conspicuously positioned
behind him. As he is finally dragged off, he screams, "Is anyone
seeing this?", in a way barking "Action!" as if the director
of a film.
Not sure why Meyer needed to be tasered, but I have news
for the young man, if he is planning on a serious career in journalism
then he'd better get used to it. Also, let's face it, who doesn't need
50,000 volts pumped through them when Kerry is speaking?
Further research provides evidence that Meyers' is
not merely a journalism student being suppressed, but an Ali G./Tom Green
rip-off pulling a stunt. Meyer's shtick, which is streamed in living color
on his own web site as well as YouTube, includes vignettes of him acting
drunk in bars trying to pick up women and standing on the street with
a "Harry Dies" sign the day the latest Harry Potter book hit
So this is the main problem with most of the video we see
online or on broadcast television; it is only news because it appears
on a screen, not because it is a record of an actual event. The news has
morphed into Reality TV and Jerry Springer. In almost all the cases cited
above, there was a set-up. Meyer is a comedian. O.J. was coerced into
his mishap from a "friend", who made sure he had a taping system
to record the entire incident and then sell it to the celebrity exploitation
web site, TMZ. Hasselhoff's daughter video-taped his stammering and made
it public on purpose. Allen's opponent was spying on him and bating him
all at once. A rap video is an art form. A security camera is not necessarily
And finally, this sideshow romp of illusions brings us to
the electronic fixing of sporting events, terrible news for suckers betting
on these things.
Turns out the most successful and celebrated coach
in the National Football League's modern era, Bill Belichick is a fraud.
This strutting jackass was busted for not only video-spying on opponents
coaching signs, but also illegally miking defensive players during games
to eaves drop on quarterback signals for years, which places Belichick
and his team's considerable legacy in serious question. This would be
merely an unmitigated disaster for a sport made popular by maniacal betting,
but it is a public relations Armageddon for any game already marred by
one of its biggest stars having been arraigned for the torture of dogs
for the purpose of wagering. But now the questioned veracity of the decade's
most triumphant team, the New England Patriots, winners of three Super
Bowls, creates a sense of illegitimacy to the entire product that is hard
In one fell swoop the real becomes unreal. So I guess all
those times Belichick and his Patriots made the game's finest quarterback,
Peyton Manning look like a fifth grade dodge ball geek, it was because
they cheated. They did not win; they created the illusion of winning.
It is a trick of the light. Moving ghostly figures, like Edison intended.
We saw it, but it didn't really happen. It was a hoax, like Meyer and
O.J. and NBC and YouTube. Entertainment, not news. Show, not sport.
© James Campion Sept 21 2007
a staggering eighth Oval Office address since the beginning of military
action in Iraq, the president went on to list further benchmarks for a
"return on success" set to unfurl in March 2008
and Kettle Revelations
does Idaho Senator Larry Craig have to resign? Tell me. You can't and
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