- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

‘Poster boy’

“There’s not much meat left on Michael Jackson’s bones. He is 5 foot 11 and weighs 120 pounds. His face is falling off. But that doesn’t mean we can’t feast on him for what could be at least a year of what TV calls ‘celebrity justice.’ …

“‘Viewers can’t seem to get enough,’ the news director at KTLA in Los Angeles said of the Jackson saga. But why? Our knee-jerk response is to view the frenzy as another perfect storm of modern American culture: celebrity, crime and media overkill. …

“People are turned on by the Jackson story because it’s about sex, specifically pedophilia, at a time when the sexual fetishization of children is not limited to whatever may or may not have happened at Mr. Jackson’s ranch. If a mass audience can fixate on whether or not Britney Spears, a singer first marketed as a devoutly Baptist schoolgirl, has lost her virginity, it is no wonder that the Jackson sideshow would move to the center ring and become a main event. …

“Perhaps pedophilic chic is growing because in a porn-saturated nation, it’s the one taboo left (and barely at that). Perhaps it’s because of our culture’s ever-increasing panic about growing old, as manifested in our favorite new spectator sport, plastic surgery, for which Mr. Jackson is the unfortunate poster boy.”

Frank Rich, writing on “America Tunes in for the Money Shot,” Sunday in the New York Times

Unliberal radio

“There was always something unrealistic about the project to create a liberal talk-radio network. Announced to much fanfare in a New York Times article last February, it was the brainchild of a Chicago businessman named Sheldon Drobny, who had had a lot of success in the venture-capital field but no experience in radio or entertainment. …

“In November, Drobny sold the company to a group of investors led by a former Internet executive named Mark Walsh. …

“[T]he new owners are trying to redefine the idea of liberal talk radio. For one thing, they don’t want to call it liberal. Walsh prefers ‘centrist’: ‘To label ourselves as liberal radio out of the box is a little regrettable, and something I’m trying to avoid,’ he says.”

Byron York, writing on “Liberal Talk Radio’s Identity Crisis,” yesterday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Battered men

“Allegations of domestic violence involving celebrities are nothing new, but two such stories in the news in the past couple of months have had a relatively unusual twist: The accused perpetrators were women and the alleged victims were men.

“First, there was the lawsuit against Liza Minnelli by her estranged husband, David Gest, claiming that the singer-actress had subjected him to repeated physical abuse. Then actor Christian Slater’s wife, Ryan Haddon, was arrested on charges of battery after smashing a glass on her husband’s head and causing a cut that required stitches. Yet despite such incidents, the public perception of domestic abuse as something that horrid men do to helpless women persists. …

“Drawing both on research and on her own experience in the field, [New York University professor Linda G.] Mills concludes that the conventional feminist paradigm of domestic violence as a form of patriarchal oppression is woefully inadequate. It is manifestly irrelevant for abused lesbians and gay men; it also has little meaning for women of color, who do not see the men in their community as powerful oppressors.”

Cathy Young, writing on “The other aggressor in domestic violence,” Monday in the Boston Globe


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