Originally Published on NevadaNewsmakers.com, 7/30/2007 2:40:07 PM
As a creature of newstalk radio, the Reasonable Reporter couldn’t help but observe that the YouTube debate was talk radio, with faces. Great product, repackaged, like the Green Day version of the Bobby Fuller hit “I Fought the Law.” It sounds convincingly new, and it’s cool for the next twelve minutes or so.
But the CNN-YouTube production was neither as spontaneous as talk radio, which doesn’t pre-record calls, nor as diverse. Talk radio callers include Joe Lunchbox. YouTube questioners are strictly Joe Laptop.
Nobody went out of their way to point it out, but the Web 2.0 revolution is driven by a relatively select segment of society. Joe Laptop has more than a passing acquaintance with technology. He can video himself, use non-linear digital editing to create a message, and then upload to YouTube. He also owns, or has access to the necessary equipment.
Web 2.0 is hailed as the great level playing field for media access, and that’s theoretically speaking. It makes great smoke and mirrors for politicians, who can, AT LAST, take questions from “real Americans,” as if they couldn’t have done it before. It would be surprising, though, if even a small portion of YouTube voters are wondering how to feed the kids tonight.
Notable moment - Everybody smokes, but nobody inhales. “I don’t support a draft but I do believe women should register.”
Also notable – It took GOP front-runners less than a week to announce that they’ve opted out of their own YouTube debate, scheduled for September. They also announced that next week, they will lie down behind the CNN satellite truck and allow it to back over them.
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Neutralizing the Britney-Lindsay-Paris effect
The Reasonable Reporter has just conducted some long overdue research, to fill in knowledge gaps about someone named Lindsay Lohan, whose every indiscretion is a cultural obsession. As everyone else on the planet apparently already knows, Lohan’s racked up enough professional credits as an actress, singer and sex symbol to burden her with the angst of a 45-year-old… but she’s only 21.
Lohan was also the subject, along with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, of a Newsweek poll earlier this year, measuring whether parents feel worried about the impact on young girls of this trio’s persistently publicized misbehavior. You know, drug use, drunk driving, and other ill-considered acts that might stem naturally from a good party on a bad night.
Hmmm. Seems like only yesterday parents were worried about Madonna, who played fast-and-loose with Catholic symbolism, ushered into our vernacular the term “boy toy,” and made the black lace bra into a wardrobe necessity for every 15-year-old girl in America. Ah, for the good old days. Madonna, at least, was a health nut, and a spiritual striver, who led her dancers in prayer each night before venturing onstage to deliver an hour of disco soft porn.
Any parent seeking to neutralize the Britney-Lindsay-Paris effect should meditate on the Madonna years. Madonna’s defining moments in the news media did not focus on her personal weaknesses. They pondered instead her adeptness at self-promotion, and her instinct for marketable naughtiness.
Madonna was never on the defensive, and she certainly never melted down. She mocked those who mocked her. She was tough, and she always came out on top.
Remember the reporter who tried to shame her by asking if the outrage caused by her explicitly kinky book, “Sex,” would also make her more wealthy? Madonna did not hedge, or lapse into self-recrimination, or vow to check herself immediately into rehab. Instead, she gazed steadily at the reporter, and almost, but not quite, smirked.
“Yeah.” She said. “So lucky me.”
When parents issue guiding principles to little girls they almost always forget to include a frank lesson on the pure economics of sexual allure. This is a critically important lesson for girls, who will inevitably have to control the distribution channels for their own allure. And who will always be subject to the influence of high-profile vamps with careers punctuated by tantalizing episodes of misbehavior.
The difference between the pathetic psyches of Britney-Lindsay-Paris and the iron grip of Madonna is a solid understanding that their principal task in the world they inhabit is to be singing, dancing, fashion-sporting cash registers, and to embrace that role wholeheartedly. For women who lack Madonna’s clarity, it’s a tough gig. If our girls were more attuned to the transactional nature of the Britney-Lindsay-Paris obsession, parents could have the luxury of worrying about something else.