Sunday, July 19, 2009

People who need to go away

I want to stress right off the bat that this is not about Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, et al, that are always in the gossip pages of the national tabloids. Instead, it's about the nothing-happening get-a-lifes whose own fame is at best questionable.

At the top of the list is internet blogger Perez Hilton (real name: Mario Lavandiera). This punk is not related to Paris & Nicky, and I suspect those two would disown this clown in a mere heartbeat if he tried to claim he was. Lavandiera is the most infamous internet "reporter", and there's a reason for the quotation marks, since Matt Drudge started his online reports. Lavandiera baited since-deposed Miss California, Carrie Prejean, with a question about same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant a couple of months back. Lavandiera, you see, is gay himself, proud of it, but is also using his preference to further a personal agenda at the expense of others, which as a journalist you are not supposed to do! Ms. Prejean was later stripped of her regional crown, and she believes, rightly, that Lavandiera's loaded line of questioning cost her the Miss USA title.

A few weeks later, Lavandiera was at the center of another scandal, this one involving rapper-turned-actor of the Black Eyed Peas. Lavandiera hurled a gay slur at will, whose bodyguard allegedly served up a receipt in the form of a black eye. Lavandiera filed suit, but the folks at GLAAD reamed him out for the slur. He's since apologized, but there's no mistaking the fact that he is a punk of the worst order.

I have not seen either of his movies, nor do I care to, but Sacha Baron Cohen may need to find some different subject matter for his next project, or at the very least try for a supporting role. There has been one common thread in the promotion of both 2006's "Borat" and the current "Bruno" in that Cohen's tactics in the production of both films have led to lawsuits. It may be his idea of ensuring big box office, but the act has already gone stale. "Bruno" had a strong opening night, but while it was #1 last week, it was already showing signs of fading. And it surely won't be #1 now, with the latest Harry Potter movie having opened. They're not going to play along a 3rd time, if, say, Ali G (Cohen's alter-ego on HBO) stars in the next film.

It used to be that MTV helped create superstars in the music business. Nowadays, music is secondary to the relentless programming of reality shows on the once iconic network. The Hills, for example, has produced the most overexposed people on television at present. Spencer & Heidi Pratt, more commonly known by the gossips by the collective pet name "Speidi", are addicted to television cameras. They were brought in for NBC's airing of I'm a Celebrity....Get Me Out of Here! last month, and made more headlines doing what they do best---mugging for the camera and whining about having to participate in the game in the jungles of Costa Rica (if you care, actor Lou Diamond Phillips won), pretending to quit, then come back at least 2-3 times before finally being eliminated. The E! network has gone so far as to announce they won't report on the Pratts until they actually do something that is newsworthy. They just strike me as being duller than dishwater. I don't watch The Hills or its ilk, I just read about it in the papers.

That having been said, I think it's time the networks, both broadcast & cable, realize that regardless of the fact that "reality shows" are cheap to produce, they're also getting to be too much of a cottage industry. It's made celebrities out of ordinary citizens who now cannot evade the addictive scrutiny of the tabloid media (i.e. Jon & Kate Gosselin). Hollywood as a whole is creatively bankrupt, devoid of true original concepts. If all they've got now are horror movies imported from overseas (i.e. "The Grudge" and the like) or Saturday morning cartoons that were favorites of today's studio executives (rumors of a Hong Kong Phooey movie have circulated), then what are we teaching our kids nowadays? That we are a society raised on vicarious voyeurism? I'm afraid to even think of the answer.

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