What exactly is the deal with Joe Scarborough? As someone who had to put up with his beady little weasel eyes staring at you in his role as my Congressman, I think I’m well qualified to criticize the man. Unfortunately, I don’t need that street cred; anybody with a remote control can criticize Joe Scarborough. I’ve written often of my contention that Pres. Bush is probably delusional at best and dangerous insane at worst because he looks at the world and ignores all the facts to deliver his solipsistic convictions. Now I’m beginning to think Joe Scarborough is equally delusional, or at least bipolar.
Joe Scarborough’s big deal on his nightly MSNBC show deals not with the world of Washington, DC politics but with the world of Hollywood politics. Or, as Joe so cleverly-or so he thinks-puts it: Hollyweird. You see, Joe Scarborough, like most Republicans, thinks the only celebrities who should have any influence in the world of politics are Republican celebrities like Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I find it intensely interesting that Republicans cry foul the loudest whenever a movie star makes political statements, yet they are the only party to ever nominate a movie star as Governor or President. Well, if conservatives are anything at all, it’s hypocritical.
And the leader of conservative hypocrisy at the media level is Joe Scarborough. (Since I don’t consider Fox News to be an actual media company, all of their hypocrites are disqualified from competition.) The other night I was flipping through channels and, not surprisingly, I saw that Joe’s big story of the night had nothing to do with the war in Iraq, or the lack of affordable health care, or Senate Republicans falling over themselves to declare their loyalty to their party’s leader instead of the overwhelming majority of Americans when they blocked a meaningless resolution. No, Joe Scarborough, scourge of the cult of celebrity in America, had panelists on to discuss Britney Spears shaving her head. Of course, I surfed right past the channel. But something really interesting occurred. About twenty minutes later I surfed past MSNBC again and lo and behold if Joe wasn’t still holding court about Britney Spears! As near as I can tell, Joe Scarborough devoted at least a half hour to the topic of Britney Spears shaving her head!
But it gets worse. The next night he was at it again. This was the same night that Tony Blair announced that British troops would be pulling out of Iraq, essentially leaving Pres. Bush isolated from the rest of the world and putting American troops in even more jeopardy. How much time did Joe Scarborough devote to that earth-shattering news? I don’t know. I do know that he spent less time on it than he did on his Britney Spears follow-up.
You can’t have it both ways, Joe. You can’t bemoan the influence of Hollywood and celebrities on American society and then contribute to that very influence by devoting most of your show to their shenanigans. There is a common misconception that Geraldo Rivera was fond of quoting during his nightly recap of the O.J. Simpson trial on his old CNBC show-the show that foisted Nancy Grace upon the American viewing public, just another thing to be grateful to Geraldo for-that by shining light upon cockroaches you send scurrying back into the walls. The problem with that approach is that it doesn’t work with celebrities. Illuminating their worst character traits-which is what Joe Scarborough seems to be attempting-doesn’t make them scurry into the walls like cockroaches. In fact, it has the opposite effect. The more air time celebrities are given for any reason-good or bad-the longer their stay in the limelight. (Witness the fact that Danny Bonaduce is still occasionally given air time.)
What Joe Scarborough should be doing if he really wants to excise the influence of celebrities if follow the advice given during a Halloween episode of The Simpsons. In that episode, advertising billboards and logos and other inanimate spokesmen come to life and begin wreaking havoc on the town’s citizens. When Lisa Simpson goes to an adman to ask for help he gives her one of the finest pieces of advice ever delivered on any television show. He tells her that advertising is a funny thing; if no one pays attention it goes away.
Think about all those advertisements you hate. Right now the worst offender is probably those annoying Head-On headache remedy commercials. You know the ones I’m talking about. People hate them so much that the commercials now make fun of how annoying the original commercials are. But hatred didn’t make those commercials disappear. Annoyance or offense won’t make advertising go away. But boredom will. When nobody pays attention to something, it tends to fade away.
It’s the same with celebrities. Rather than publicizing their faults in some vain attempt to undermine their social influence, if Joe Scarborough really wanted to accomplish that he should just totally ignore them. Think of all the enormous popularly celebrities who have disappeared: Daniel J. Travanti, Arsenio Hall, Pernell Roberts, Shelley Long, Karen Black, Christopher Cross. Believe it not, but at one time or another all of these people were superstars at the pinnacle of their medium. Pernell Roberts was such a huge star on Bonanza that he thought he could become a movie star. For some reason I’ll never understand Arsenio Hall may very well have claimed the title of Coolest Guy in the World in the early 90s. In the early 70s Karen Black was arguably one of the five most sought-after actresses in Hollywood, starring in everything from Five Easy Pieces to The Great Gatsby to Nashville. Since then she’s appeared in movies like Zapped Again and Plan 10 from Outer Space. And Christopher Cross beat out freaking Pink Floyd: The Wall for every Grammy Award possible in 1981!
My point is that most celebrities are more than capable of making mistakes all by themselves that will remove them from the sphere of influence. (How often have you see Mel Gibson or Michael Richards lately?) Joe Scarborough’s nightly titanic effort to undermine them by devoting such a huge chunk of time to revealing their worst side is pointless. If you ignore celebrities they become a nagging memory perpetually living on the tip of our tongues. The problem is that I don’t really believe Joe Scarborough’s intent is to heap scorn upon the celebrities he devotes such an amazing amount of time to. I think down inside-and not very deeply-Joe Scarborough loves celebrities. I think right now, in fact, he’s a got a major hard-on for Britney, baldheaded or not. I think he enjoys celebrities so much that if any of them asked to appear on his show he’d wet his pants in anticipation. In other words, I believe Joe Scarborough is a hypocrite of Republican proportions.
He says one thing and means another. He decries the influence of movie stars and country singers who don’t consider patriotism merely in terms of a good idea for a hit song, but is first line at Pensacola’s new theater on its opening day to see Casino Royale. A guy who doesn’t think movie stars should be so influential shouldn’t be first in line to see a mindless Hollywood action flick. (I’m not specifically dissing Casino Royale when I say that, I’m just saying that action movies with complexity tend to be rare, and flops. I haven’t yet seen Casino Royale so I can’t comment on its quality, I’m just using it as a generic example of the type of popcorn celebrity that Scarborough scorns.) A guy who really thinks the entertainment industry is so corrupting should be using those two hours to read to his kids or take them to the beach or a museum rather than subjecting them to the subliminal liberal-commie-pinko messages inherent in all things Hollywood. (At least if you believe the official conservative line.)
But a guy who can’t get enough of celebrities and who has a major league jones for Hollywood would do that. The type of guy who never misses an episode of Entertainment Tonight or Extra would be first in line for Casino Royale. A guy who really doesn’t believe in the things he professes would do that. A guy who wastes hours upon hours of prime time television programming every week on subjects like Britney Spears’ shaved head would do that.
But not a guy who sincerely believes that entertainers hold too much sway over the social fabric of America.