- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

Bridal boredom

“The wedding of Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, which was broadcast by ABC [Wednesday] night to an estimated 17 million viewers, felt like a real?life wedding ceremony in at least one sense: It was relentlessly, excruciatingly boring. There were the endless relatives to keep track of. The dreary testimonials to the day’s transcendent specialness. …

“What, if anything, do they mean to each other? And what does it mean that all of this means anything to us? The true climax of [Wednesday] night’s broadcast was not the ritual utterance of Ryan and Trista’s vows. … No, the high point was the sublimely crass moment in which the cost of every item was literally tallied up onscreen, from the $50,000 Badgley Mischka gowns to the half-million dollars’ worth of roses. (All paid for by ABC to the tune of $3.77 million. …)

“This may not be … ‘the wedding of the decade,’ but it has to be the only one for which the couple received a paycheck; Trista and Ryan have already bought a house on the million-dollar salary that love built.”

Dana Stevens, writing on “The $3.77 Million Wedding,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Dot-com hoopla

“Here’s a sign of the times: JenniCam, the site on which you can view real-time video of life inside Jenni Ringley’s bedroom, is shutting down on December 31 after more than seven years ‘on the air’ (or whatever the properly postmodern term for webcasting is). …

“[T]here was a time when her [Web site] was all the rage, so much so that she attracted quite a few subscribers willing to pay for premium content, not to mention half-witted academic theory-spinners. …

“JenniCam was, of course, nothing more than a hula-hoop-type fad, but seven years ago the Web itself was still something of a giant-sized hula-hoop, in much the same way as was television circa 1948. Back then, pretty much anything could draw a crowd — championship wrestling, roller derbies, B-movie matinees — simply because TV itself was so new that people would watch whatever was on, fascinated not by the message but by the medium. The Internet was like that in 1996. Now it’s part of the air we breathe.”

Terry Teachout, writing on “Jenni’s Footnote,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Rich and ridiculous

“Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, the central figures in the hit reality show ‘The Simple Life’ … are what the classic moralists condemned as ‘the idle rich.’ …

“Ms. Hilton and Ms. Richie have never worked a day in their lives. They have no husbands, no children — just a chihuahua named Tinkerbell — no responsibilities, no charities. … They spend their time partying, adorning themselves, and conspicuously consuming. And, as the moralists warned, idle hands really are the devil’s playground. …

“So now America takes pleasure watching them descend into the real world, to a farm in Altus, Ark., where ordinary folks have to work hard to earn a living.

The premise of the reality show led to concerns that Hollywood would make fun of rural Arkansas, particularly the three-generation Leding family that the jetsetters have to live with. But the farm family comes across with dignity. The rich girls with their out-of-place designer fashions and astonishing cluelessness … are the ones who are ridiculous.”

Gene Edward Veith, writing on “The young and the useless,” in the Dec. 20 issue of World

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