Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Could It Be I Just Wasn't Made for These Times?

Do you know who Trista and Ryan Sutter are?

When I was at a supermarket earlier today, I walked by one of the check-out aisles and saw an issue of Us Weekly - I'm not sure how recent the issue - with Trista and Ryan on the cover, with their new baby. The headline screamed "Trista and Ryan's New Baby Pics!" (or something like that) and though I was happy to see another cute little baby face in the world, I had no idea why they merited a place on the cover more than any other family who had been trying for a while, finally conceived, and successfully birthed a new person into the world. I was perplexed, so I opened up the magazine and flipped through until I found the photo gallery of Trista and Ryan and their baby, and read that the two adults had been on The Bachelorette. Well, whoop-de-freakin'-do!

It's not that I hadn't heard about The Bachelorette, because I had. But why, I wondered, did Trista and Ryan deserve that cover space more than coverage of Britney Spears' latest breakdown (I'm only assuming she's had another one), or the latest juicy photos of "Brangelina"? Did they - Trista and Ryan - do something special, so utterly fantasmagorically amazing I'm not aware of that it earned them a prominent place on a national entertainment rag? I don't think so. But then, what do I know?

"I keep looking for a place to fit
Where I can speak my mind
I've been trying hard to find the people
That I won't leave behind..."

I don't really know jack about Trista and Ryan, but I do know that those Democrats demanding an immediate pullout of troops from Iraq are pretty hypocritical. Why? They say President George W. Bush has ran the Iraq War irresponsibly, that he had a plan for war but not a plan for peace. They aren't wrong, in this respect. Where they are hypocritical is in their having a plan for removing American troops from Iraq, but not a plan for containing the chaos that would spread throughout the Middle East without some sort of powerful check on its expansion. Two conflicting, irresponsible and wrong policies don't make a pullout right. Tell that to, though.

No, I don't know shit about Trista and Ryan, but I do know that the relative silence of the world following a recent Israeli "foray" with warplanes - they dropped some bombs - into northern Syria has to mean something. I could, really, care less about O.J. Simpson's latest arrest, and what he says in his defense; when North Korea and Syria - two oppressive dictatorial regimes - are the loudest voices of protest following a democratic Israel's sortie against some sort of target in the Realm of Damascus, I get suspicious that more is going on than just diplomatic bravado, and pay little attention to the affairs of the pointlessly rich and violent in the U.S. when there are reports - even unconfirmed - of Syria drafting reserve soldiers.

"They say I got brains
But they ain't doing me no good
I wish they could..."

Oh, don't get me wrong - I love frivolous stuff. I can't wait for the return of Jericho to CBS; I love Hugh Laurie as the cranky Dr. House on Fox's House. I think it would be awesome to get drunk and party with Robbie Williams. When my Dad came to New York earlier this year, we walked by the Ed Sullivan Theater, where the Late Show with David Letterman is taped. We found out that Jeff Goldblum was being interviewed and would shortly exit the theater via that side entrance where fans tend to wait, and, well...we waited. I'm a huge fan of Jeff Goldblum, after all. But here's the thing: I don't care about Jeff Goldblum's life more than my own.

The same could not be said for those who latched onto copies of People magazine after actor Patrick Dempsey had twin babies - another awesome cover story there for "McDreamy"! I truly wonder whether young American mothers today spend more time reading about Hollywood babies - those of Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie, Trista and Ryan, et al - than they do raising their own. I wonder if many of those who held vigils for Paris Hilton when she went to jail would do the same for a family member imprisoned for a similar offense, or if they would resign their family members to a fate they wouldn't dare wish upon Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie.

"Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
But what goes wrong..."

No, I don't know much about Trista and Ryan, but I do know that President Bush's pick to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General is an Orthodox Jew, who at one point had a price on his head after he prosecuted a case against a sheikh who was behind the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. I may not have ever watched an episode of The Bachelorette, but I do remember watching the second tower fall on September 11, 2001. I may not have ever cast a vote in favor of a contestant on American Idol, but I have cast a vote in a democratic election in a Middle Eastern country.

I could care less about Lindsay Lohan's relationship with her parents, because I've had enough issues with my own parents over the years. If I'm interested in Tom Cruise's efforts to film scenes of a movie at a certain location in Berlin being blocked by the German government due to concerns about Cruise's Scientology (he was later told he would be allowed to film where he wanted to), it is only because the movie he's making is a true story about a high-ranking Nazi officer who tried and failed to assassinate Hitler; as anyone who truly knows me knows, I'm a sucker for World War II-related stuff. Of course, I don't expect others to be interested in a news story like that; to each his (or her) own.

"Every time I get the inspiration
To go change things around
No one wants to help me look for places
Where new things might be found."

Please, don't think that I'm simply making fun of those who voluntarily invest their time and money perpetuating the myth that the lives of people who are famous for, sometimes, just being famous, somehow have more value than their own. I don't hate such people, nor do I pity them. They are choosing to live their lives their way, and I mine. We're all still managing to coexist in this country, one way or another, though when Paris Hilton converts to Islam I wonder how many tens of thousands of people will follow her lead simply out of their perceived need to be just like a woman who wouldn't ordinarily give "the little people" the time of day.

And, for the record, having been in a relationship that was for several months a subject of much gossip amongst complete strangers, gossip which, I suspect, is more than anything else responsible for earning me and an ex-girlfriend an embarrassing pre-Rosh HaShana TV interview aired before the nation on Channel 1 in Israel in 2004, I do know something - have had however small a taste - of the other perspective...of how it can feel to be the subject of so many whispers, how the pressure of stares grates, how it feels to have people pay an inordinate amount of attention to you simply because you're shtupping that pretty French girl...

"Where can I turn when my fair weather friends cop out
What's it all about..."

I'm a little angry that we have allowed ourselves to become this vacuous, this...decadent. This unprincipled. I'm not above celebrity gossip as diversion - but venerating celebrity gossip as the focus of your life, and you're not a paparazzo (and even if you are)? Nuh-uh. And I am a little disappointed that if I call certain people during the latest all-important, Earth-shattering, more-amazing-than-Swiss-cheese episode of American Idol, I'm probably going to get their voice mail and, later, an admonition against calling while Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell are holding court.

" Sometimes I feel very sad..."

When George Clooney gushes about presidential candidate Barack Obama, saying he's "like a rock star", I think "You're like a moron, George," and then cringe, because it hurts to know people actually think Clooney a trustworthy political commentator by virtue of his work earning big money pretending to be other people on a big screen (I do think he's a reliable entertainer - but not much more). You might say, "Of course he's trustworthy. He's not a politician, he's an actor!" Well, so was John Wilkes Booth. Who was John Wilkes Booth? Go pick up a history book and find out! I don't think you're stupid - just mal-informed!

" Sometimes I feel very sad..."

Okay...getting back to the point, no, I don't know much about Trista and Ryan, who, because they met thanks to ABC's The Bachelorette in 2003, got married, had some pregnancy problems, had a baby, and earned the Rightful Love and Praise of a Distracted Nation. No, I don't know much about Trista and Ryan, who I saw this afternoon in a big picture on the cover of Us Weekly and then couldn't, for the life of me, identify why they were on it. Woe is my knowledge, I guess.

"I guess I just wasn't made for these times..."

If anyone reading this thinks I'm behind the times because I don't know much about celebrity couples, let me offer this defense: I don't know much about algebra either. But at least algebra's relevant.

"I guess I just wasn't made for these times..."

All above italicized song lyrics from "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times", on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album

1 comment:

David said...

Song credits-Brian Wilson/Tony Asher

Makes me SMiLE! to see Brian Wilson quoted in a blog. Especially a blog about "Heroes & Villains."