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Culture Briefs

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Old-school hoaxes

"Alas, these kind of internet hoaxes are becoming ever more common. Last week the web OMG'd itself hoarse over a story purporting to be about a woman quitting her job via messages on a whiteboard. Within hours it had pinged around the globe ... Similarly, music fans in 2010 have to contend with endless fake MP3 album leaks ... uploaded and disseminated by malicious nerds who presumably have time to kill in between playing Halo 3 and mastering Elvish.

"The prime target of internet pranksters, of course, is Lego-haired teen idol Justin Bieber. Various rumors have had him killed in a car crash, kidnapped by a cult, and raddled with syphilis. Indeed, we've become so numb to outlandish Bieber headlines, one day we'll read news of a genuine tragedy - say, 'Justin Bieber maimed after hang-gliding into jagged rocks' ... and, instead of being appalled we'll just smirk and click 'Like' on Facebook.

"To some extent this kind of leg-pulling has always gone on. Do you remember the Beatles 'Paul is dead' rumor? Or the story about Prince having a rib removed so he could ... well, never mind ... The difference is, those were organic nuggets of refined [nonsense]. In most cases they arose from the playground, and had a certain playful charm. These days, however, the open-source nature of the social web means it's embarrassingly easy for devious geeks to hijack websites, derailing facts in pursuit of LOLs ... it's hard to shake the uneasy feeling that the internet has become a murky hall of mirrors in which no assertion can be trusted."

- Luke Lewis, writing on "Axl Rose cancels Reading and Leeds. Justin Bieber kidnapped by cult. What will those devious geeks think of next?" on Aug. 17 at the Daily Telegraph

Old-school starlets

"Before Paris and Nicky, before the Kardashian clan, three sisters wrote the book on how to turn socialite status into legitimate stardom (sans sex tape): Zsa Zsa, Magda and Eva Gabor.

"They married a motley crew of men, they hammed it up on game shows, they slapped cops. Had they had their heyday in the age of TMZ, they would have attracted a bigger pack of paparazzi than Lindsay Lohan.

"With Zsa Zsa out of a Los Angeles hospital and at her Bel Air, California home, where her publicist said she wants to spend her final days, the sun may be setting on the last living member of the Hungarian-American trio. But the legacy they established continues to burn brightly: without the Gabors, well-born beauties wouldn't enjoy the 15-plus minutes of fame they do today."

- Sheila Marikar, writing on "How Zsa Zsa and the Gabor Girls Paved the Way for Today's Starlets" on Aug. 17 at ABC News

Old-school journeys

"Inadequate attention [in the film of 'Eat, Pray, Love'] is given to establishing the reason for the trip. Full disclosure: I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book at this point, but from only one quarter of the book, I already understand why Book Liz went on this journey.

"Book Liz had an unhappy marriage to an often unkind person, followed unsuccessful efforts to get pregnant with the painful realization that she didn't want to get pregnant, got a divorce, and then had her heart ripped out by a broken relationship with another guy she really loved. She went through depression, medication for depression, and lots more before deciding on her year-long international trip.

"Movie Liz, on the other hand, wakes up one night unhappy in her marriage and dumps her apparently sweet and loving, if somewhat flaky, husband. She then uses a hot young guy who's unlucky enough to be actually in love with her to get over her divorce, and then, for no particular reason, she dumps him, too. And then: Off to Italy!"

- Linda Holmes, writing on "The 'Eat Pray Love' Problem: How Movie Liz Ruined the Story Of Book Liz" on Aug. 16 at her National Public Radio blog Monkey See

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