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i was wrong
breaking news
by robert a. melos
pop culture

I know this may come as a shock to my many fans and follows, but I was in error when I wrote a column on April 30th of 2007 entitled For the World is Shallow. In all fairness to myself, I was mildly wrong in part, but not in whole. You see the gist of the column was more about my boredom, web surfing, and the horror of reality shows, however it seems my tirade through a portion of that column toward Tori and Dean: Inn Love, a charming program about the trials and tribulations of Tori Spelling and her husband Dean McDermott running a B&B in Temecula California, gets all the web search hits.

I sort of insinuated that Tori and Dean: Inn Love was the worst of the reality based programming, and I now admit I was wrong. Maybe it’s just because I kept going back to watch Tori and Dean meeting the everyday, well sort of everyday, struggles of running a business while having fans and stalkers and malicious mischief makers doing things like dumping soap powder in the fountain in front of the B&B; you know, just like every other small business owner in the world.

I have grown from hating the show to loving it. I admit it. I never thought I would care in the least bit about second rate celebrities (Sorry guys, but you aren’t A List celebs), but I have come to feel like I know these poor kids and care about them.

When I compare watching these two young people just trying to make a go of their lives, and doing it on television (sure it is a sort of craving for the spotlight and that begs the question of a need for counseling), to watching what is now passing for news on CNN, MSNBC, and Headline News, it’s like comparing William Shakespeare to Jackie Collins.

News is the ultimate reality programming, and while war, shootings, global warming, wildfires throughout the western states in America, flooding and such are news, the top news stories, and I mean news stories that are offered as teasers to keep the viewers watching to the end of the broadcast, all center around Britney Spears parenting skills, Lindsey Lohan’s drinking problem, and O.J. Simpson’s terminally screwed up existence.

Sure people might be watching all the way through the news hour, or half hour, to be repeated continuously throughout the day until they change the stories, but do they even pay attention or are they sitting in their trailers munching pork rinds, guzzling beer, burping and anxiously waiting for the story on how Britney sold her kids for crack or Lindsey left rehab for a weekend orgy of coke snorting and boozing?

What I’m saying is, wildfires and wars are getting 30 seconds each and a pantiless Britney’s who-ha gets two to four minutes of commentary and coverage (if she’d kept it covered she wouldn’t get coverage, so to speak). Maybe I’m an elitist snob, or just a gay guy, but I don’t care about Britney’s who-ha. Nor do I care about Paris Hilton’s or Lindsey Lohan’s who-ha. And in case you don’t know what a who-ha is, look it up on Urban Dictionary.

I’m a bit of a news junkie, flipping back and forth between CNN and MSNBC, with the occasional detour to the Food Network. I especially enjoy Countdown with Keith Olbermann, who exploits my point here to his benefit. He openly mocks the stories that are considered the big draws, something most mainstream broadcasts don’t do as they cover events like the latest O.J. legal trouble with teams of reporters flocking to whatever venue O.J. troubles spring from and do detailed moment by moment coverage of the event.

Hell, this past summer Paris Hilton’s exit from jail was a breaking news story and got more coverage than Bush’s latest lie, or the war death toll, or even Britney’s who-ha. While I find the trend in news slightly baffling, I think I understand it. We need to escape, to get away from the real world of pain and suffering into the real world of shallow celebrity self-indulgences.

The past few years have been a roller coaster ride of terrorism, war, and a government lying through their collective teeth to profit from a war at the expense of the lives of our citizens. Maybe O.J.’s flirtation with potential prison time, and Paris Hilton’s stay in the LA County Jail, and the catfights of The View, and Britney’s who-ha are what the country needs to get through these rough times.

Of course I’ve discovered the better escape with the second season of Tori and Dean: Inn Love. I’m not giving up on the news, just expanding my intellectual horizons with moments of shallow escapism into the lives of the lifestyles of semi-famous. It sure beats The Care Bears Movie or The Best Sex Ever.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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reem al-omari
9.23.07 @ 4:15a

I found it absolutely baffling that MSNBC had live broadcast, continuous footage of Paris Hilton's exit from her house to go to jail. I was at the gym and saw it on the tele... I so wanted to change it, but the doofus on the machine next to mine was watching it like it was the day President Kennedy died.

TV isn't the only place where our priorities are messed up. Newspapers are filled with crap on the front page, but the real important stuff is buried all the way in the back at page 32A.

I always say that most laws and rules are made for the idiots of the world. I think that is also the case for what has become front page important news.

robert melos
9.23.07 @ 10:36p

I remember the O.J. Bronco chase, but in a way that was news because he was on the run, so to speak. The next big news story I remember was Michael Jackson giving himself up to authorities in his lastest child molestation case. That seemed a little like it was pushing it because he wasn't on the run or anything.

The Paris Hilton jail stay and exit from jail was a joke. It showed how low our news media has sunk. A girl jailed for DUI wasn't news. The news was who she was, and even that shouldn't have been news. It is disappointing to see our media catering to the lowest common denominator supermarket tabloid mentality.

Sure it's entertaining to see celebrities screwing up their lives, but the media should be highlighting the real stories of government lies, and corporate sponsorship of a war for profit. Those are news stories. However, for escapism I do recommend Tori and Dean: Inn Love.

tracey kelley
9.24.07 @ 11:07a

I'm constantly baffled by the sensationalism of the national news media.

'Course, I experienced the Red Sox Nation Mania first hand last weekend, when the first 10 minutes of the top market Boston television news report was all about the game, more about the game, more about the Sox/Yankees series, and the weather report for the game the next day.

The first 10 minutes!

After the break, the news team came back with all the death, mayhem, and destruction you could want. But that first 10 minutes....all Sox, baby!

robert melos
9.24.07 @ 10:28p

I'd even welcome the Red Sox mania over Barry Bonds and Michael Vick. Although both Bonds and Vick are legit news stories. They actually did something to earn their fame or infamy. My complaint with much of the breaking news is they are really covering the laziness or forgetfulness or manipulativeness of a famous girl who doesn't wear panties and happens to accidently flash while climbing in or out of a car.

I'm thinking more and more famous men will start wearing kilts just for photo ops.

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