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authority rocks
politics for the mtv generation
by robert a. melos
pop culture

A while back, in an article I called "Can Suzanne Somers Be Far Behind?" I inadvertently misidentified Donald Rumsfeld, our Secretary of Defense, as Chief of Homeland Security. Okay, the actual chief of Homeland security is Tom Ridge. Only one person, so far, has pointed out my rather glaring error.

I suppose I should've known the difference between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Chief of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, much as German citizens in the 1940's knew the difference between Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and head of The Gestapo, Minister of the Interior Heinrich Himmler, but I was too busy trying to keep straight the Homeland Security alert color scheme.

The simple fact I didn't know who was in charge of Homeland Security tells me the government isn't doing enough to reach those of us who are concerned with the welfare of our country, but so self-absorbed we really have very little time to follow every breaking news story. It's not as if our culture makes being a politician glamorous enough for us to grow up wanting to be these guys. They're not like rock stars or actors, or anybody interesting.

I blame my lack of knowledge, where political offices are concerned, on MTV. For a while there MTV was broadcasting these helpful news briefs, identifying the players, in between Sheryl Crow and Aerosmith videos, but lately they've stopped being extra helpful and have gone back to simply telling us with whom Pamela Anderson is currently sleeping. Albeit, Pamela Anderson's sex life is interesting until you realize she's rocking Kid Rock's world, and her ex, Tommy Lee, is making a comeback in the music industry when he's really much better equipped to be a porn star, but none of this information helps me to keep straight the major players of the current world situation.

I mean, Kid Rock did go to Afghanistan to entertain the troops during the holidays, and MTV aired the concert, but nowhere during the broadcast did they mention Tom Ridge or Donald Rumsfeld. I admit, neither Ridge nor Rumsfeld is as interesting as Kid Rock, Tommy Lee, or any other musical talent, but since they are important to the welfare of the country, thus important to my personal welfare on some level, it would be nice to give them more air time when people like myself would see them and get to know them.

Perhaps MTV or VH1 could air an episode of Storyteller, or Behind The Music, centering around Ridge and Rumsfeld? I mean, if guys like that were given more publicity they might have a better chance at getting girls like Pamela Anderson. Not that rock or war is about getting the hot babes, or anything like that. However, if we are to believe in the propaganda machine we put into place, shouldn't we know more about the cogs in the wheels of the machines? And wouldn't it be more interesting if the cogs in the wheels were as interesting as rock stars?

Let's face it. We all know Fawn Hall, and Donna Rice, and Monica Lewinsky. Now it didn't hurt Oliver North's image for Americans to think he was stud enough to get a hot babe. Nor did it hurt the images of Bill Clinton, Gary Hart or Ted Kennedy. I'm not saying the war on terrorism is about bagging the hotties, especially since I'm gay and have yet to see a really hot guy worth bagging anywhere in the rogue's gallery of those in charge of my homeland defense, but it wouldn't hurt to add a few cute guys to the roster.

Maybe if Ridge and Rumsfeld were incredibly hot stud material, then I might've noticed them during the months which followed 9/11, but they're not and I didn't. It just might be the authority figure presence they put forth is something out of my father's era, circa WWII, and that in itself is a turn off.

I got used to having a youthful President, and public figures, who came across as young and hip and who could speak to me as a peer instead of lecturing me as a parent. The way the authority figures of today come across I'm filled with rebellious desires, even before we actually have anything to rebel against. I'm a grown man and don't need a parent to tell me to do something, when a peer could better explain to me, with reason and level headed appeal, why something is the way it is.

Oh well, we're stuck with Ridge and Rumsfeld, so how do we make them more interesting?

Maybe one of them could start dating Pamela Anderson? Perhaps one of them could get picked up for shoplifting an inexpensive handbag? Heck, if they just made a video explaining the Homeland Security color code alert system I'd be happy. I can see it now, featuring J-Lo and Eminem, with a guest appearance by George W.

Clinton would've done it!


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.

more about robert a. melos


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topic: pop culture
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jeffrey walker
7.22.02 @ 11:47p

You only thought Clinton and his folks were cool because MTV went out of their way to make them look that way. MTV, like most media organizations, have liberal agenda (with the exception of FOX, who has a conservative slant).
I'm not suggesting that the current batch of White House staff would be better or worse on TV than the former, but MTV wouldn't show you the footage of Ridge or Rumsfeld acting "hip" even if they had it.

BTW - MTV, as a source of news, is about as useful as NPR for a source of your latest rock stars. Get news from who gives the best insight, now who "looks cool" doing it.

adam kraemer
7.23.02 @ 10:30a

I gotta say, though, every time I hear "Rumsfeld" I subconsciously tune out the rest of the conversation. Can't explain it.

robert melos
7.23.02 @ 9:53p

I'm guessing my sense of humor is just to subtle.

I agree MTV isn't a good news source for anything other than entertainment news, but much of the youth who will be or is of voting age spend more time watching MTV than CNN. Kurt Loder is the Walter Cronkite of the next generation. Personally I don't trust anyone or believe anyone, and flip news channels as I do video channels. Whatever catches my interest, or what I'm looking for in the news is where I linger the longest.

Politically speak, I just get the feeling a lot of our current politicians would like to turn back the clock to the 1950s, and are doing their best to achieve that impossibility. I heard a radio commercial today on my local easylistening station urging women in New Jersey to get out and vote this fall to keep their right to choice by electing pro-choice politicians. I think it's sad to even live in a time or place where women don't or didn't have full say over their own bodies.

As for Ridge and Rumsfeld, putting the names together this way sounds like a good name for a TV detective series.

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