Barbara’s Latest ‘Get’

The latest entry into America’s “misery-as-entertainment” category is the Blake murder trial. The preliminary hearings started today and apparently his agent (if he still has one) negotiated a sweet deal with ABC so that his jailhouse interview with Barbara Walters would air on the same day. Great P.R., if it doesn’t backfire. ABC is providing reciprocity for the exclusive interview by airing the most insane-looking shots of Blake in their promos. Blake’s attorney seems to be using some Billy Flynn-type finesse with the press by stating that he has advised Blake against doing any TV interviews but staying on the case, nonetheless (unlike the parade of other attorneys who had Blake as a client and who no longer represent him).The trial could go on for months, and I’m sure the wall-to-wall news channels are hoping that it does, considering the spike in ratings that they received from the O.J. fiasco.

But time will tell what the public’s threshold of endurance is.

‘Fred Durst Sucks’

The human ego is bizarre and endlessly fascinating. I’ve also been finding it extremely funny lately, too, witnessing the things that people do to make themselves feel o.k. about themselves. Maybe I’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough now for me to find unbridled egotism humorous instead of merely patently obnoxious.

For example, I saw a guy the other day in Amoeba Music wearing a ‘Fred Durst Sucks’ T-shirt. After I remembered who Fred Durst was, I realized that it apparently was important enough to this guy to express this lovely sentiment, so that the world wouldn’t think less of him, but perhaps would think less of Fred Durst. (To quote Gore Vidal, another erstwhile Angelino, ‘It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail.’)

In addition to simultaneous devotion to and disdain for rock stars, people in L.A. (and, to a lesser extent, in other places) bolster their egos with suntans, cars, implants, trophy wives, wealthy husbands, tattoos and piercings, houses on hills, the right wine, shopping at Saks, career advancement, identification with sports teams/figures — the list goes on and on and on. The funniest part is when the very thing that bolsters one person’s ego fails to garner any respect or recognition from anyone else.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be discussing ego a lot herein. Living here at the epicenter of narcissism, there’s never a shortage of source material.

Open Wide

Remember when ‘open wide’ was something that your dentist said to you? If I had any doubt about the efficacy of the Hollywood marketing machine, it was allayed first thing this morning when I saw the janitor in my building wearing a ‘National Security‘ T-shirt, which (not coincidentally) opens wide today. They must really need a big first weekend … (And, yes, you can interpret that to mean that when word-of-mouth gets circulating, no one’s going to want to see it.)

8 Miles of Ego: Melts on the Screen, Not in Your Hand

Living in L.A., one is subject to relentless entertainment marketing. It seeps into your consciousness, without you ever making an effort. The most recent example of this is the current round of hype around ‘8 Mile,’ Eminem’s foray into the big screen.

This burst of hyperbole is in the form of ‘For Your Consideration …’ bullshit that used to be limited to trade publications but now manages to find its way into mainstream advertising outlets. (I guess, the bigger the lie, the bigger the machine you need to propopgate it.) They’ve been airing the most odious radio ads, begging anyone who’ll listen to nominate this third-rate piece of crap for Oscars. (You know the drill: theme music behind golden-throated voiceover announcer, who reads all those seemingly-glowing review quotes totally out of context.) Without compunction, they hail him as a genius.

Apparently, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone that the same word most people reserve for Mozart, Einstein, Thomas Edison or Stephen Hawking is now being applied to this third-rate self-indulgent semi-literate wannabe who happened to be at the right place at the right time.

Never mind that ‘8 Mile’ looked as dated and hackneyed before it was even released as ‘Flashdance’ does 20 years hence. (The only thing that’s missing is the off-the-shoulder sweatshirt, but I’m sure his ratty-ass badboy skull cap will serve as a substitute.)

Never mind that Eminem’s people (I’m sorry, his ‘peeps’) in Hollywood are undoubtedly scared shitless that the house of cards they somehow managed to create with the hype for ‘8 Mile’ is destined to come tumbling down around them because it’s unlikely that anyone can think of a single other role that Eminem is suited for (besides playing himself).

Never mind that his whole tired ‘disaffected youth/angry young man’ schtick has been done much better by dozens before him (and will undoubtedly be done better by many more who come after him).

Never mind that an innate ability to rhyme is a symptom of certain severe forms of autism. (Only difference is, autistic folks are usually better at rhyming, because they understand that rhymes actually follow the same phonetic pattern, instead of the Eminem type of rhyme which would claim that ‘phonetic’ and ‘electric’ are rhymes, a problem that a quick trip to Barnes & Noble would remedy with the purchase of a rhyming dictionary, but that would never happen because the illiterate halfwit probably has never been to a bookstore in his life, but he would, however, attempt to rhyme ‘bookstore’ with ‘back hair.’)

Never mind that the same multimedia conglomerates who produce such schlock movies own all the outlets that publicize them (to wit, Eminem appearances on ‘Access Hollywood’ for something like 10 nights in a row) and pay the bills of the people who vote at Oscar time.

None of that matters because we’re supposed to believe that he’s so sensitive that feels things more deeply than any of us. Please.