the tale of the moneymakers

November 25, 2010

Let’s admit it. Nothing anyone says is original anymore. “There is nothing new under the sun,” as the old addage goes.

Tired storylines are recycled again and again. (The farther I go back in my search for good movies, the more I find that to be true.) Hair and clothing styles of earlier decades return for seconds. Musical arrangements and beats fade in and out of popularity.

Yes, barring the constant progression and innovation of science and technology, even the general human being finds him/herself at a loss for an original thought many times.

And yet, what I find most astounding is how any person of seeming prominence can utter a commonplace statement, such as I really appreciate that the grass is green, and the whole world stops and stares. It could be, I suppose, that everyone is gaping in amazement at this person’s ability to put together a complete sentence. Or maybe they are thinking, Wow, I never thought about that! Either way, the fact remains that the statement couldn’t be less imaginative; I’m sure the homeless people who spend their summer evenings sprawled out on the lawn have shared similar sentiments. As have the retirees admiring the landscape as they fly in from a weekend with the grandchildren. But, being that the person saying it brings in $50 million a year or “has the voice of an angel,” nothing they say is ever questioned.

Garth Brooks commented on a talk show that he talked to his daughters about boys recently. Oh, hold on. Take a breath here, Garth, while your host and audience share a rip-roaring laugh. Because who in the world ever knew that celebrities talk to their kids? And about boys?! I mean, that’s so average.

Once the talk show host recovered from her starstruck astonishment, Garth proceeded to take us word-by-word through his conversation. And there wasn’t a breath to be heard in all the studio.

Please, let me hear Garth’s girl-power statements about being true to yourself and not giving it up. Because, after all, this is completely new information.

And he certainly is an authority on the matter. I mean, he’s a musician.

My inevitable conclusion: Maybe when the world stops treating celebrities, and anyone touting an over-seven-figure income, as if they are gods, then they will be forced to use their brains.

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Oh Oprah

November 5, 2010

Variety is the spice of life. If I don’t vary my writing topics, what kind of journalist would I be?

I know this. And I try. Really, I do.

My rantings about the current landscape of television sludge, the absolute chaos that makes up the celebrity world and our society’s obsession with beanpole women–I try to keep these to a minimum. There’s an enormously vast landscape of information still to uncover, and yet I find my struggle to be somewhat in vain.

I make every effort to look the other way, to ignore the stupidity, to focus on the bigger picture. And then I make one false step. I turn the TV on for five minutes, shielding my eyes (and ears) as I quickly flip to a station airing a “personally approved” show with actual entertainment value. But, alas, it seems I am never quick enough.

Today, it was the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I think this personage tops the list of people in need of a reality check.

Maybe after 24 years on television and with the level of fame she’s received, her reality has become a tad skewed. Because, what viewers, in their right mind, willingly submit to an hour of blatant home videos of Oprah and Gayle what’s-her-name attempting to camp? (Really realistic, might I add. That whole roughing-it, surviving-on-your-own storyline. Yeah, that survival element kinda disapates with the appearance of the camera crew and the invisible assistant who we know is waiting on the sidelines with a bottle of water and a masseuse.)

Does fame make a person that delusional? I guess the difference is that most celebrities, while knowing that people will watch whatever crap they put out on the tube, do not have the easy access to do it. Oprah, however, does in fact rule the world. Her 80 million delirious fans will tell you that.

I keep dreading the inevitable–which is, if I ever want to really understand her appeal, I must do the unthinkable. Watch her show. I have tried before and almost made it through a full hour, but my nausea got the better of me. I fear I will continue to roam the earth without the life-changing understanding of Oprah’s powers.

Fortunately for me, her reign has about ended. But you can bet, before it’s all over, her audience members will traipse off with new homes, Africa will be cured of AIDS and poverty will be a thing of the past.

At least, that’s what her female army expects.

malleable trick-or-treaters

November 1, 2010

It just isn’t Halloween without a few smashed pumpkins in the street.

Two grown adults walked into a Starbucks days before Halloween dressed as a mummy and a grim reaper. Children lined the streets of Brookside and downtown Tulsa on Saturday as ballerinas and devils in order to hear “Awwww how sweet” and to add to their cavities. Maybe Tulsa should host more events featuring free candy and decorated children. That should give a boost to our downtown.

After all, Halloween is just about make believe and fun.

So says the witch hanging from a rope next door and the gravestones and skeletons haunting the yards one street over. It’s natural to feel fearful and repulsed by these images. Observe any child going through their first Halloween. It’s the much wiser, celebrating adults that say it’s normal. Torture, hauntings, murder, glorification of death. And I’m weird if I don’t like these things?

Remind me again, why do we smash pumpkins and vandalize on this ancient holiday? Is it our way of rebelling against societal norms in a “safe,” non-illegal way? Do children find it thrilling? Is it their first act of vandalism on their way to a life of law obstruction?

Yes, Halloween obviously is a very harmless day of celebration. Don’t worry about the meaning behind the day or the images glorified by celebrities, religion, the average Joe down the street.

There’s nothing creepy about children and adults garnishing knives, dripping blood–er, I mean, ketchup, wearing demon masks, pretending to be zombies.

On any other day of the year, we would hear, “Hide the children!,” but on this special day they say, “Bring on the impressionable kiddos.”

sex kitten at 17

May 16, 2010

I don’t know what else there is to say about pop culture and its love of 12 year olds and obsession with manipulating them into sex-crazed 16 year olds with heroin addictions and STDs and then subsequent pleasure in cackling over their utter destruction: multiple rehab stints, abuses, addictions, divorces, sex tapes, money scandals, all the while aging 20 years before our eyes. (Have you seen Lindsey Lohan lately?)

My tirade comes on the heels of the recent Miley Cyrus happenings.

What would entertainment news do without her? Giving lap dances to a gay man, gyrating with her female dancers, pole dancing for her audiences. Parents of Hannah Montana fans must be so happy that their children have such a stand-up role model.

And all of this success at only 17. I see so many exciting things in her future. Sex tape at 18, alcohol addiction at 19, rehab at 20, abuse allegations at 22, drug addiction at 23, total meltdown at 24, rehab at 25.

Has Britney been secretly tutoring her? Or has she found a way to actually transfer her life into Miley’s body? Because Miley’s not just taking tips from Britney’s steller example; she’s a carbon copy. Only about four years ahead of her. I mean, at 17, Brit was still singing about sunny meadows and flowers. Miley, on the other hand, skipped right to post-virginal Britney.

Well, at least she’s being honest. No lies about chastity. Just pure, raw sexuality for this teenage puppet.

And I can tell you one thing, Billy Ray couldn’t be prouder. His buttons were surely bursting when she slid down that pole just a few feet from him and her mama. And he no doubt approved of the video of her lap dance for Mr. Shankman and saw to its distribution all over the Internet. After all, according to him, all 17-year-old girls enjoy a little stripper pole, or lap dance, once in a while.

Needless to say, if you’re a 17-year-old girl and you’re not engaging in these activities, you better get on the bandwagon. Because with a name like Billy Ray and a daughter like Miley, how could he be wrong–or a completely inept parental figure at that?

Just remember his hit song and mullet from 20 years back. That should reinstate his respect.

Breaking News

January 2, 2010

Let’s discuss the marvel that is Facebook.

This is an idea that revolves around two human desires.

One: to be social.

We are social creatures. We need people. No man is an island. We’ve all heard that expression. It’s true.

But when did it become necessary to have another human involved in absolutely every nanosecond of every moment of our lives?

I personally find it very disturbing to have people around me for more than five hours a day.

New technology and lack of self-restraint have turned A.D.D. into the norm. Entitlement has birthed newborns with texting addictions and Facebook profiles updated by the minute. Technological advances have turned our world into a playground of egotistical crybabies.

Two: to be heard.

Thanks to Twitter, people can publish their every thought, uncensored, for the world to see. Because who isn’t interested in the fact that at this very moment, I am standing in my kitchen making macaroni and cheese. Well, actually, I’m not doing it anymore. Now, I’m on my iPhone telling all my friends that I’m doing that. But once I’m done posting, I’ll go back to my mac ‘n cheese. That is, until a friend posts a response and then I’ll have to reply to her reply and then that will go on for a while so that I’ll forget my dinner and it’ll burn on the stovetop. So I’ll just end up chatting all night about Taylor Swift and if she and Taylor Lautner are really broken up.

Really, Facebook and Twitter (‘Tweets,’ seriously? Who is the genius that came up with that intelligent lingo?) can be summed up in one word: distraction.

That’s all it is. Distract us from working. Distract us from learning. Distract us from educating our minds with events happening outside our immediate jurisdiction. Distract us from living.

Or maybe distract us from ourselves.

Singing can cause injury

December 24, 2009

Famous people have it rough.

Constant criticism of every fashion choice, every bad decision, every failure. No private life. Slave to the changing winds of popular opinion, carrying them here and there.

The minute they take one wrong step, the whole world turns to watch.

And yet, no one shows them much sympathy.

In a court of law, if individuals of influence and prominence sue based on privacy infringement, most often, they lose. Why? Because when they signed up for the fame gig, they agreed to the terms. Which includes signing away their privacy.

Famous people may deal with a substantial amount of unfairness being rich and privileged, but they get a lot of sweet deals too.

So for that, I am not ashamed to jump on the bashing bandwagon:

Most of these people have egos.

Celebrities don’t get where they are without at least a slight overly-modest belief in their greatness.

And once fame hits, the growing cannot be contained. No human ego can withstand the excessive amount of petting, complimenting and showering of awards without growing to the extraordinary size that most singers specifically, such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, find themselves.

These individuals surround themselves with adoration.

They spend every moment with assistants, stylists and publicists whose sole job is to keep them happy. The last thing they want to do is tell their client that their performance was less than blow-your-mind fantastic. That their hands need to stay glued to the microphone instead of flailing in the air a little more often. That every time they contort their face during a high note, they look as if their lunch is returning at a highly inopportune time.

Fact: some singers are not performers.

Some are successful live. Some make a good effort. Others cause their viewers pain.

It’s not that they can’t sing; it’s that when I watch them sing, I feel impelled to shut my eyes. Quickly.

I saw Carrie Underwood perform on Ellen today.

I had to change the channel.

I can understand moving like that in order to distract from her singing, but she’s a good singer. No twitching arms and disturbing facial expressions necessary.

Beyonce was on Oprah a while back.

How any self-respecting woman can get on stage and shake like that and still smile into the camera is beyond me.

Tyra’s always telling her proteges to model in a mirror; learn how to hold their head; find what expressions and angles look best with their facial features.

Tyra’s crazy–sure–but she knows her stuff. Carrie and her fellow gargoyles would do well to take note.

Another sign that Hollywood’s ideas machine is creeping to a stop:

In the current television landscape of reality stars and slapstick, nauseating entertainment, which call for zero need for talent of any kind, the category of “celebrity” has grown to encompass every person and their dog that just happen to reside in Hollywood.

Let’s reflect for example on the new reality show about Giuliana DePandi-Rancic, host of E! News. I’m sure she’s a nice lady, but now we’re airing shows about the lives of people who are already on tv giving us celebrity gossip?? Who came up with that idea? And of course, Jessica Simpson also comes to mind who, although having some semblance of a talent, could hardly get her fame off the ground until she signed a reality deal displaying her inability to operate a dishwasher or to understand where tuna comes from.

Hollywood has always been about the money, that’s nothing new. But there was a time when being an actor meant something. It was a special club that a person had to work long and hard to gain admitance to. It may not have always been fair, but being in “the club” stood for something. It meant you had enormous talent.

Not that we don’t have high-caliber actors today. But really, what need do we have for a lot of extraordinary actors? Actors who want to stretch beyond their limits.

What movies even require that? The Hangover? Not unless you count faking drunkenness as talent.

Why is the movie landscape so depressing? Because even with the advent of the Internet, handheld supercomputers and new scientific discoveries, humans are digressing. Technology is moving forward; humans are stepping backwards.

Interestingly, the New York Times noted that even in a recession, this year proved more profitable than previous years for the movie industry. So, many thanks goes out for a year of sequels and used ideas, drunken revelries and violence glorification. Here’s to another great year.

People of influence–be it sports stars, singers, political figures or actors–have over the years built up a permanent residence in a fictitious town filled with carbon copies of themselves: egotistical, self-serving, limelight-loving narcisists. So forgive me if I, once again, am not shocked by the rumors of Josh Duhamel or, much more recently, Tiger Woods cheating on their beautiful, seemingly loving wives.

I can’t help but question what these men were thinking. They use technology like the rest of us–probably more so. They are not dumb. They are not ignorant 12 year olds. Yet, they don’t acknowledge the fact that everything they do can be tracked. Phone calls, e-mails, text messages and not to mention their every move, thanks to the sniveling men who make their livelihood on feeding the growing population that gains sustenance from the daily goings-on of celebrities: what they wore to dinner, their struggle to lose their baby weight, or how they felt when their mother died.

Did it not dawn on 33-year-old Tiger Woods, father of 2, winner of over 12 national titles, that text messages, although able to be erased from a phone, are never truly erased? They are called records for a reason. There are supercomputers that track and permanently record every phone call, every text conversation. And don’t you think that Elin, famous supermodel and wife to arguably one of the most powerful men in sports, can more so than most of us be assured of gaining access to that super-secret data?

Question is, does Hollywood and public figures everywhere assume that they are so powerful, so all-knowing, so god-like that they are immune to the consequences of their actions? That they are so beloved and worshipped that people won’t probe into their private lives, regardless of how juicy or damaging the story may be. They must surely live in a constant dreamlike state that tells them that they and their money rule the world. And, regretfully, previous life experience has taught them that.

But money does not rule all. And loyalties run very shallow in a world looking for the next dollar and the next story. Where people are just waiting for those to fall from their lofty throne.

Tiger Woods is now reaping the rewards of his tumble.