It's Not the Nipple: A Super Sunday reminder to Frank Rich and other righteous anti-FCCers: The big problem with last year's Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake halftime show was not that people saw Jackson's breast. It wasn't what Jackson did that was offensive. It was what Timberlake did. Here was a massively popular, relatively hip singer whose message was that it was a hip, transgressive thing for men to rip clothes off women when they feel like it (which is quite often). I watched the game with a group of non-evangelical, non-moralistic dads who were uniformly horrified. The problem for them wasn't sex--their kids see flesh all the time in videos--but a form of sexism, not prudery but piggishness. Surely there are some types of behavior--homophobia, perhaps, or racism, or Republicanism--that even Frank Rich wouldn't want implicitly endorsed during a telecast watched by most of the country's teens and pre-teens. Yet the press has effectively recast this complicated issue as an uncomplicated case of "Nipple-gate," of blue-noses overreacting to the sight of a breast. No wonder red staters respond negatively when New Yorkers call them simplistic. ...2:06 A.M.
Friday, February 4, 2005
Kurtz Stays Silent in Eason Jordan Controversy! Day 7. ...Seriously, isn't this something you'd expect WaPo's media reporter to cover, one way or another? ... Update: Apparently the videotape of Jordan's remarks is available. No doubt Kurtz will vigorously pursue the tape, which doesn't look very hard to get. (Who would want to suppress the truth?) Then he can "cablecast" the video on his show, "Reliable Sources," on CNN! Piece of cake. ... An easy week for Kurtz!. ... P.S.: You, the reader, can ask Kurtz about all this on Monday's WaPo "Media BackScratch"--I think I've got that name right. ... Questions can be submitted now. ... Servers are standing by! ...12:29 P.M.
Bush's Social Security Strategy: Lose Quickly? If you were a Republican congressperson terrified of getting clobbered over Bush's "personal accounts" proposal for Social Security, what would be your biggest wish? Not that Bush fight for the idea, or that he not fight for the idea. Your wish would be that whatever Bush does, the fight be fought quickly, within a few months--leaving plenty of time to recover before the 2006 mid-term election. ... That is why the reports that Bush is pushing for an ambitiously expedited consideration of his proposal aren't necessarily a sign of strength, or of a cunning high-pressure Rovian strategy for victory. They may be a strategy to lose quickly, with minimal harm done to the Republican majority. ... And maybe this get-it-over-with realism, not grandiose ambition, explains Bush's decision to pursue Social Security revision before tax revision. ...3:08 P.M.
Everybody Loves Bernie! Now-former N.Y. Times Hollywood correspondent Bernard Weinraub's seemingly confessional exit article got big play in last Sunday's paper, but it has not met with good reviews. The criticism seem to fall into at least four categories.
1. Weinraub's pathetic, insecure money envy: The key incident here is when Weinraub admits he was embarrassed to drive a two-year old car.
Waiting for a valet at the Bel-Air Hotel to bring my company-leased Ford, I once stood beside a journalist turned producer who said, "I used to drive a car like that." Though I'm ashamed to say it, I was soon hunting for parking spots near Orso or the Peninsula Hotel to avoid the discomfort of having a valet drive up my leased two-year-old Buick in front of some luncheon companion with a Mercedes. [Emphasis added]
Nikki Finke of L.A. Weekly writes that "what oozes from [Weinraub's piece] is the gunky notion that a journalist wanted to live like the people he covered here." (And Finke's a Weinraub pal!) Variety's Brian Lowry says:
Weinraub's first-person account suggests that he acquired the two worst traits an entertainment journalist can possess -- harboring contempt toward those whom he encountered while simultaneously being overly star-struck and financially envious ... feeding the perception that we can't attend a shindig at producer Brian Grazer's estate (very nice, by the way) without immediately contemplating how to sell out so we can buy our own.
Of course, Weinraub confessed his valet trauma on his own, which should count for something. He clearly wants heroism points for the self-revelation. But is he being a)genuinely self-critical--e.g. he now realizes how silly and immature it was to feel "diminished" by his failure to drive a Mercedes-- or b)residually self-pitying, as if he wants the reader to still feel sorry for poor Bernie the journalist forced to cover people much richer than he is? There are enough cloying, self-glorifying references to his initial "string of modest, even shabby apartments" and his alleged goggle-eyed awe at a Coldwater Canyon house ("I had never seen a home like this")--plus enough implicit crowing about his subsequent marriage to a rich studio head-- to conclude that the mix is at least 70% (b). Weinraub apparently believes that the situation in Washington, D.C.--where reporters are in the same lifestyle ballpark as the people they cover while trumping most of them in status--is the normal and appropriate social order, when in fact it's the exception.