It’s Just a Movie!
By: Thomas Lindaman
Back in the 80s when “Saturday Night Live” didn’t suck out loud, William Shatner did a famous skit where he told off “Star Trek” fans for spending so much time on the show. His oft-quoted line, “Get a life, would you people? I mean, it’s just a TV show,” still makes me laugh today, partially because of how the skit hit so close to the bullseye. And I should know. I’ve gone to more than a few of these conventions and when I’m the coolest guy in the room, you know it’s Geekapalooza.
But Shatner’s line has another, deeper message. (Putting “Shatner” and “deep” in the same sentences has to break some law of reality.) The message is that we should not spend any more attention on entertainment media than what is reasonable because when we cross that line, it gets incredibly tough to jump back. Yet, it seems like anything that comes out these days in any media form is hyped to the hilt, in some cases as the greatest creative venture since God said, “Let there be light.” And
more often than not, the hype is more entertaining than the final result.
Take a look at the hot subjects in the entertainment media right now:
- “Mission Impossible III” The latest Tom Cruise movie has the media’s attentions right now. Within the past year or so, Cruise has been acting weirder than usual. Jumping on Oprah’s couch. Telling off “Today’s” Matt Lauer about psychology and the use of drugs to control depression. Suggesting that girlfriend/wife Katie Holmes be quiet during the birth of their baby. (I’m not a woman, but I know darn well that giving birth hurts. A LOT. Keeping a woman quiet during that would be harder than getting the turkey leg away from Oprah during Thanksgiving. Or during a commercial break, for that matter.) I’m not sure if Cruise or the movie is getting more attention anymore.
- “An Inconvenient Truth.” Al Gore’s documentary about global warming is already starting to get Oscar buzz and media attention. In fact, Gore has gone so far as to say the film is “the ultimate action movie.” (Putting “Al Gore” and “action” in the same sentence? At this rate, reality will unravel by the time I get to the end of this piece!)
- “The DaVinci Code.” Dan Brown’s popular book is being made into a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks. No word on if Peter Scolari is a co-star in a “Bosum Buddies” reunion of sorts. If so, the movie could be renamed “Blaspheming Buddies.” Catholic churches, including the Vatican, are planning to protest the movie’s release because they believe it to be anti-Catholic. Some have even suggested the Catholic Church may file legal action to prevent the film from being shown, along with the
usual talk of boycotts.
- “American Idol.” Yeah, I admit I’m an “American Idol” junkie. Fortunately, I’m not alone, as there are millions of people voting, blogging, and talking about the show. There is even a Fantasy Idol game not unlike fantasy baseball where you can predict who will win. Variety published a piece recently talking about how companies are using their connections to “American Idol” to increase their business and viewership.
- “Commander In Chief.” Even though this ABC show has gotten the axe, show star Geena Davis and show creator Rod Lurie were recently given awards by The White House Project, a non-partisan group created to help women get into public office. The group gave Davis and Lurie the awards for the show because…well, I’m not exactly sure why. It may have put the idea in people’s heads that a woman President might not be too bad, but I’m still a little fuzzy on how an actress pretending to be President with writers intent on making Davis look Presidential helps put women into real public office.
- Anderson Cooper. The newest CNN super-stud is appearing on magazine covers with the frequency of freaky things going on at Dennis Rodman’s house. Whether it’s gossip fodder or more in-depth interviews on Cooper’s opinions on such important issues like what wine goes best with a Swanson TV dinner, the media love following around Cooper and making him a modern media icon.
- Ashlee Simpson gets a new nose. Speaking of ABC, the Simpson nose job story ran on ABC’s website as news. And it’s complete with photos!
William Shatner, we need your sage advice and Tribble-like hairpiece more than ever! There are people who pay WAY too much attention to the entertainment elements of “hard” news these days, letting their opinions of one media event or another be propelled by those covering the event. When we let the inconsequential become important and the important become inconsequential, we’re not doing ourselves a favor. I can relate to wanting to plop down in front of the TV after a rough day at work, but that doesn’t make the important stories go away. And it doesn’t make “Joey” any more funny. (That has nothing to do with my overall point; I just wanted to let people know where I stood on the show.)
What we can do is be more savvy media consumers. I say this a lot, but it’s the best way to address the situation and get the fluff out of journalism. If we demand the media start doing more to cover more complex, more substantial stories than whatever Britney Spears’s kid is doing right now, the media will have to respond if they want to keep their readers and viewers. After all, it makes no sense to put out a newspaper or run a TV show if nobody’s paying attention. Then again, Air America is still broadcasting.
So, don’t let the media dictate to you what you should pay attention to. More often than not, they’ll steer you more wrong than the instructors at the Patrick Kennedy Driving School.
Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and NewsBull.com. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of CommonConservative.com.