Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Paris Hilton

Fame!

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Jonas Salk and Paris Hilton

There is no TV show that irritates me more than 20/20, the ABC News “Magazine,” especially when John Stossel does one of his famous investigative reports. The “research” always reminds me of something I once did for my 8th grade Social Studies class.

Friday’s 20/20 was titled “Are We Addicted To Fame?”

If you could wave a magic wand and make yourself smarter, stronger, more beautiful, or famous, which would you pick? I was surprised by how many people pick fame over everything else.

The show introduces us to our culture’s sick obsession with celebrity and fame. There are showbiz kids desperate for a part in a sitcom, students who take Learning Annex-type courses to become celebrity assistants, and crazed fans who dream of just being in the same room as someone famous.

Throughout the show, you get the sense that (the famous) John Stossel looks down on these fanatics. In fact, he seems to be disappointed in MOST OF US, as if most Americans are a bunch of sick puppies. To understand our crazed obsessions better, he turns to the usual suspects — the EXPERTS!

I used to wonder where these newsmagazines always find these experts, but blogging has helped me understand how the mass media works. A few months ago, a producer from Washington Post Radio emailed me after I wrote some humorous blog post about Mel Gibson’s infamous night out.  The host wanted to interview me about my opinion of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism, as if I had some special knowledge of the subject because I was both Jewish and had seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome three times.  Do I really need to say any more about how qualified these experts are? (editor’s note: Neil is available as a media “expert” on blogging, relationships, Los Angeles, New York, Redondo Beach, pizza in Flushing, and women [sorry, that one is still a mystery to him])

For all of John Stossel’s hand-wringing about our sick society, he glosses over the fact that the ONES who profit the most from this celebrity culture are the experts he interviews, such as Janice Min, editor-in-chief of “Us Weekly.”

Ms. Min on celebrities of today:

“You don’t even have to be so talented to be famous. You just have to be outrageous, well dressed, gorgeous, date the right person.”

John Stossel also interviews Leigh Hallisey, a professor who TEACHES a course on TV and Popular Culture at Boston University’s College of Communication.

“It used to be enough that you got attention from your parents. You got attention from your teachers, your peers and that sort of thing, but that is no longer enough,” said Hallisey. “We want attention from the worldwide media.”

However, the real talking head of the show is Jake Halpern, who just happened to have written a book titled “Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction, which just happens to be be published by Houghton Mifflin RIGHT NOW in January 2007 (talk about a good PR firm). I have not read the book, but I have a feeling it doesn’t contain any scathing attacks on media-obsessed magazines such as US Weekly or Entertainment Weekly. How do I know this? Because Entertainment Weekly is running a 7-Page excerpt from the book right in the magazine! (another PR coup!)

John Stossel is fascinated by Mr. Halpern’s findings, tidbits like: most teenage girls would rather grow up to be a celebrity assistant than a U.S. Senator.

Mr. Halpern theorizes that celebrity magazines like “Us Weekly,” “People” and “In Touch” are so popular because people are lonely. Halpern points out that today more young people tend to marry later in life and more can afford their own living spaces, so they spend more time alone.

Celebrities become a way to connect us to each other. It’s sad really. There’s a lot of head-shaking going on in the 20/20 episode. Our children are fame junkies. The rest of us are lonely and miserable, with no connection to real life. The worst part of our celebrity obsession is that we are all growing up to be imbeciles. To prove this, John Stossel takes to the streets and asks passerbys to identify both Paris Hilton and Jonas Salk. Much like in those Tonight Show “Jaywalking” segments, most people are idiots. Everyone knows Nicole Richie’s former partner, but only an oid fart has heard of the developer of the first polio vaccine.

For shame! For shame!

But who’s to blame? Our parents? Our schools? Modern loneliness?

If John Stossel had any cojones he would have looked over at some of the ABC News executives he works with.  A quick search on the ABC News website shows 505 pages of news stories about Paris Hilton and ONLY 22 pages about Jonas Salk. Is it any wonder we know and care more about Paris Hilton than Jonas Salk — because ABC News likes it that way!

By the way, just out of curiosity, I looked up the last ABC News story that mentioned Jonas Salk, one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century. This is it

The same year that Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for polio, a little-known chemist at General Foods stumbled on to what would provide a revolution in mouths across the country.

William A. Mitchell had a simple hope in 1956 — make instant soda from a tablet. The soda didn’t pan out, but he created a hit. His research led to the invention of Pop Rocks candy.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: CES, Day One

Gay Pride Paree Hilton and Her Mother

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(photo via A Socialite’s Life)

This weekend is the annual West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade, which is always a lot of fun.  And this year’s Grand Marshals are —  Paris Hilton and her mother, Kathy?  

Huh?  West Hollywood gays, are you out of your homosexual minds?

You mean there was no one available who actually did anything for the gay and lesbian community?  An advocate for gay marriage?  A doctor looking for the cure for AIDS?   Portia de Rossi

The official response:

“They are a very public mother and daughter team, and they know what it is like to be different — or what it is like when people don’t understand who they are,” said Rodney Scott, board president of the Christopher Street West, parade and festival organizer.

I see.  You mean "different" in that you both have more disposable income than the rest of us to buy expensive clothes, liquor, automobiles, and gay cruises (as seen in the official Gay Pride Parade advertising-packed glossy magazine I picked up at The Flower Tree on Santa Monica Blvd. while drinking a carrot juice)?

Carl and Paris

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Carl Karcher was born in 1917 in Sandusky, OH. 

He moved to Anaheim in 1937 to work in his uncle’s seed store.  He later delivered baked goods and ended up buying one of his stops…a hot dog stand.  Karcher and his wife grew the stand into an empire of four before opening Carl’s Drive-In Barbeque in 1945.  Carl’s Jr debuted in 1956, so-named because they were considered "junior" versions of the original drive-in.  It was modeled directly after the original McDonald’s, which by then was pioneering the modern day fast food industry.  Carl’s Jr spent the next couple of decades expanding and innovating, introducing several firsts to fast food restaurants like padded seating and partial dining room service.

Carl was always a family man.   Today, he has twelve children, forty grandchildren, and eighteen great-grandchildren.  He is a long time supporter of Republican candidates and causes, including the Right to Life League, which has a platform calling for the end to abortion, with no exception.

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Nothing says family values better than the new Carl’s Jr. commercial starring Paris Hilton, a woman made famous giving a blowjob in a video.

Let’s give credit where credit is due.  The commercial is sexy, but my mind wandered to things other than the soap on her body.  How do the filmmakers keep the lettuce and tomato from sliding out of the bun?  I’ve eaten burgers in  Carl’s Jr.  They end up a mess.  Did the prop people have to put little pins on the bun to keep it down, sort of the way you have to pin down a yarmulke?

Here is the nutrition info on the six dollar bacon cheeseburger.  Now, this is pornographic.

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