Showing posts with label Media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media. Show all posts

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I’m a sex writer with a secret shame — hoarding -

Salon has always been editorially obsessed with sex-talk, convinced, perhaps, that the prosaic writings of those engaged in the continual grinding of genitalia constitutes a literary form who's time has come. It is , of course, porn for the nervously middlebrow, a poor sister to travel writing. 

Now we have a sex writer who is more interested in doing field research than keeping a clean household. Salon, we thought, was supposed to be covering the culture in a smart and literate way, but these stories are tiresomely shallow beyond a certain point, being neither things we can relate nor shocking nor insightful . I am not , of course, a mental health expert, but I find it ironic that someone who is interested in lifestyles that push back the boundaries of sexual expression , so to speak, has come up against a literal wall in their real   world domicile. There is , in fact, scarcely any more room  for clutter in the space provided. 

Our writer, seeking to cram as much life into the years she has on the planet, perhaps has used up her psychic space allowance for ignoring larger issues both the clutter and the sex drive might be symptoms of. Again, I am not a mental health expert, but I can sling a metaphor or two.

 Sometimes the metaphors are apt.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Woodward's Avenue of Broken Dreams

 It was suspicious enough when journalist-author Bob Woodward inferred that an email exchange he had with a highly placed White House representative was a veiled threat against him. Did anyone believe that a Presidential staff as media savvy as the one Obama has working for him would consider even on their worst day that threatening a celebrity political reporter was even remotely a good idea? It turns out , we learn , that Woodward, who of late has be absorbed into the alternate reality known as Fox News, mis-characterized the correspondence. If that wasn't pathetic enough, Woodward took the Fox  air again to defend is original remarks about the digital digression.      He has the look of someone caught  telling a lie, a self-inflicted wound to the reputation to someone who curried favor with presidents, Supreme Court justices, Generals and other power players.   

Beyond his ability to get interviews with the most powerful people in Washington and then write best selling books about them, Bob Woodward has struck me as a glorified ambulance chaser, an eavesdropper, a gossip hound only a screen door removed from the stench. In an another life he would be hosting a TMZ variant. In an digital era when information is available immediately to anyone who seeks it and when news breaks faster than we're able to blink, Woodward, a creature of newspaper culture and the author of  books that attempted to give broader context to complex personalities, must have felt his relevance fading rapidly,badly. I can only think that appearing on  Sean Hannity's show was a way for him to stay in the game and remain in the current discussion. 

The problem, though, is that his awkward attempts to give his email exchange with his White House contact a "Fox' spin only made him a story , separate from any real journalism and perspective he might have provided. The White House release of the emails after Woodward's characterization of them as somehow menacing --they sound anything but--just makes this once highly considered writer seem like another old , tired warhorse subjecting himself to the buffoonery that is the stock-in-trade of Fox News. It is a pathetic spectacle.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Salon, take your own pulse

Salon's Mary Beth Williams wonders in a  recent article   if actor Charlie Sheen can be saved from his drug addicted ways. It's a content provider's dream, a topic needing little research, or original analysis. One need only arrange established facts in an accurate timeline and then join the chorus of hand wringers who've been virtually drooling over the actor's repetitive misadventures. Besides the ongoing tales of infamy, it's a depressing sign of what passes for cultural commentary.Where is Dwight MacDonald when we need him, a loud scorn who can beat back the rising tide of  baroque trivia clogging the talk of the town.

 Sheen will likely die a sad and predictable death that awaits nearly all practicing alcoholics and drug addicts (unless he has the fabled "moment of clarity" and achieves the means to keep the epiphany bright, shining and alive), and what I wonder , after all these years, is why this marginally talented actor's relapses are still considered news.True enough Sheen has squandered the considerable resources he has to sober up and clean up, but it's telling that much our entertainment medias squanders it's opportunities to highlight and promote the best of what our artists, authors, poets, film makers, actors and instead maintain death watches over those celebrities who cannot get their lives and careers back on track.

The rise of 24 hour news cycles and instant Internet updating, of course, turns the daily mishaps of Sheen, Lohan and others into something of a low overhead gift for a growing class of journalists, the gift being that of the serial relapser who will dependably screw up again , and again, and provide a meaty grist for the mill. This is the kind of ongoing situation that fills many column inches, fills hours of airtime, and generates unending Internet blather and videos; little investigating, research, or analysis is needed at all.These are the stories that write themselves, and the pity of it all is that this makes the media not reporters of events nor historians, of a sort, who bring coherence to an onslaught of new information, but rather game show hosts officiating over a vulgar, ritualized form of public suicide.

And we? We cease being interested citizens seeking knowledge about how our society works politically, culturally or how it succeeds or fails in it's quest to make ours a more decent place to live.We're reduced to being little more than ersatz sports fans reading insanely irrelevant articles like whether Charlie Sheen is beyond redemption in prestige publications that used to know the difference between what's important, interesting and crucial and what's mere noise, distraction, trivia.

Charlie Sheen is powerless over drugs and alcohol and his life, outside of work, is unmanageable. The phone calls for new jobs, though, will stop coming, sure enough, and this pitiful man's saga will rapidly change from merely sad to being tragically fatal. Our media, though, which is to say the technologized projection of our national conversation, is seemingly powerless over the existence of celebrity fuck ups.
And the inability of any brave editor or owner to change the terms of that conversation suggests a malignant unmanageability; unable to fix what's wrong in our lives, we've been turned into routine bigots exchanging our bad faith over the metaphorical backyard fences and cracker barrels.

Nobody wins.