Sunday, December 11, 2005

Just Desserts

Natalee Holloway made the cover of the National Enquirer the last two weeks in a row. Once was to report a phone call her parents allegedly received from her; the other was about evidence the Aruban government was covering up.

Is there a lower form of life in America today (other than any visiting Saudi princes) than the employees of supermarket tabloids? We could discuss the merits of those who buy these rags (if they have any), but saying these rodents are just giving the public what it wants is like excusing FEMA for butchering the Katrina emergency by saying other people made mistakes, too. (Not that the Bush Administration hasn’t tried.)

Haven’t the Holloways suffered enough? They aren’t the first to be subjected to this treatment, but it seems more severe for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is that Natalee is presumably dead. As a parent, my greatest fear, and one never far from my mind, is that something terrible will happen to my daughter. She’s fourteen; I’m almost fifty, and I suspect my parents still feel that way.

What worse is the Holloways never asked for this. They’re not Michael Jackson dangling his baby over a parapet, or Britney Spears getting married for fifteen minutes and making sure the whole world knows about it. As much as celebrities have to put up with, they at least get some (indirect) benefit: all publicity is good publicity today. Whatever keeps the buzz alive will sell your product, especially if your product is you. At what other time could (alleged) child pornographer R. Kelly sing the national anthem at a fight? Madonna kept her career going through lean singing years by being professionally scandalous.

Ever wonder what you’d do if you won the lottery, one of those hundreds of millions of dollars jobs? High on my list would be starting a my own supermarket tabloid. My rag’s only topics would be the lives of the reporters, photographers, and publishers who make their living from the anguish or embarrassment of others.

Ever wonder if the Enquirer’s publisher likes to get liquored up and paw his secretary? Maybe do more than that? How about the underage orgy that went on at his house while he and the wife were driving drunk through a day care parking lot? How do you think their Holloway reporter would like being interviewed about our pictures of him, Dennis Rodman, and a gerbil? Dirty pictures of Grandma from when she was a struggling starlet? Might be fun to find out.

We’d would lose money; the public is much more interested in seeing people with supposedly perfect lives knocked down a peg. It’s part of the love-hate relationship we have with celebrities. Everyone knows my targets are crudballs, so where’s the fun? That’s okay. I just won three hundred million dollars; I can absorb some losses. Besides, I can probably finance the paper by accepting the occasional “honorarium” for something I could print, but am willing to reconsider. Crudballs like this must have some fully-articulated skeletons hanging in their family closets.

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