The Weekly Media Monitor 12.11.03

“You have chosen wisely.”
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Welcome to The Weekly Media Monitor, a cozy little corner of 411black where each and every Thursday I will provide an analysis of media coverage as it pertains to the following three categories: news, sports/wrestling, and entertainment. Also included in each edition of The Monitor will be a feature I like to call Chris’ Wild Card Commentary. Simply put, this subsection will be an editorial piece about any miscellaneous headline or happening that I feel strongly enough about to share with you a few extra thoughts.

My primary goal here is to use selected quotes from assorted media outlets to provide an original set of headlines and exclusive commentary to 411black about hot topics that are currently infiltrating radio airwaves, television programs, and print publications.

Everyone knows the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” However, the lesser-known nugget which remains obscure is the quote, “A thousand words is worth a picture.” I can’t cover every single base in this little forum, but I’ll definitely do my best to give you – my attuned readers – a general sketch of the American news landscape.

Before we get to this week’s set of top stories and quotes, I figured I might as well introduce myself, since we’ve already spent 234 words together and I’d feel used like a pair of returned Victoria’s Secret panties if I didn’t at least provide a little background information:

I’m Chris Biscuiti.

Okay, with that said, here are this week’s top stories:

Sports: How did Curt Schilling raise the stakes of the Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry?

In the media:

ESPN baseball analyst Tom Candiotti had this to say about the impact of the Schilling trade on the storied Red Sox-Yankees rivalry:

“The Red Sox sent a message to the Yankees in particular and to all of baseball that they are willing to do whatever it takes to win a world championship. In acquiring Curt Schilling, it hammers home the Red Sox’s approach to this baseball offseason.

Schilling gives the Red Sox a bonafide ace to compliment Pedro Martinez and a pitcher who can matchup with any other in all of baseball. Schilling is a horse that not only wants the baseball, but he also wants to finish what he starts. Curt is a refreshing throwback to pre-1990 baseball.

From Schilling’s perspective, he now joins a team that wants nothing less than to win the World Series. There will be no rebuilding in Boston. This is a team with an open checkbook, and an ownership that wants to make a statement.

Schilling realizes that he has a chance to get into baseball folklore if he leads the Red Sox to a World Championship. I believe that Curt considered this heavily being the student of the game that he is. Yes, the money he will receive for the compensation of his services is astounding. But winning erases all talk of salaries, particularly if the Red Sox do win that elusive championship.

Boston should be jumping with joy as the news of this trade hits the airwaves. Let’s see how the Yankees react. This offseason is just starting, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun one.”

Credit: ESPN Online

Chris’ commentary:

I absolutely love the moves that Red Sox management has made this offseason in order to improve their ball club come spring training. The Schilling trade was a no-brainer, and it marks the first time in a long while where the Yankees set their sights on a star player that did not wind up in the Bronx.

I also wholeheartedly agreed with the Red Sox firing of Grady Little. He may have made just one mistake in the 2003 playoffs, but it was a momentous blunder that the fans and media in Boston would never have forgiven. After all, we’re talking about a baseball team that already has 85 years of futility to worry about, and they just didn’t need to enter into year number 86 with a manager who was questionable, at best, in big game situations. I am not sure, however, if Terry Francona – a manager who posted four straight years of losing records in Philadelphia – is the answer.

The Yankees of course, countered the Schilling move by trading Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Expos for flamethrower Javier Vazquez. They also have Gary Sheffield in their sights, while the Red Sox are thinking blockbuster. Boston has Alex Rodriguez on their radar (in a possible trade for Manny Ramirez), as well as L.A. Dodgers hurler Kevin Brown (another high-profile pitcher who the Yankees also might want).

My early 2004 prediction: the Tampa Bay Devil Rays find a way to win the American League East. Now that would be the ultimate irony.

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Entertainment: Why do we love to hate Britney Spears?

In the Media:

Laura Sessions Stepp of The Washington Post wrote the following feature article about the increasingly popular anti-Britney movement:

“So pop-tart Britney Spears says she’s abandoning her teen fan base for older listeners.

This will come as a great relief to the grownups who, not to put too fine a point on it, hate Britney, who just released her fourth CD, “In the Zone.”

Google on “Britney hater” and you get 9,000 hits. Go to the CNN Web site and learn, from a Quick Vote poll earlier this month, that one out of three visitors enjoys Britney while the rest say she’s either “living off her past glory” or is “about ready for the `Where Are You Now’ file.”

Karen Kreutzberg, a Navy commander with an 11-year-old daughter, Kara, tries to be polite by calling Spears “lightweight,” then adds, “Don’t get me started.”

Britney rage isn’t confined to custodians of the cradle, but there were a lot of parents silently cheering when they heard that Maryland’s first lady, Kendel Ehrlich, pumped up a crowd last month by saying, “If I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would.”

Maybe moms are jealous that at 21 Britney looks better in boy briefs than they do or ever did.

But it’s more than that. You don’t hear the same comments about hotties like J. Lo or Xtina (otherwise known as Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera).

Over the five years of her pop career, Britney has come to epitomize the widespread belief that there’s something rotten in girl culture, something that tells girls that their bodies, not their brains, are the means to power and success, especially if they’re wrapped in skintight pants that stop just above the pubic bone.

Britney popularized the slut strut in music videos assembled by a former porn director and single-handedly wiped out the Spice Girls. Short skirts became known as “Britney skirts.” Young girls grabbed Teen People off the newsstands when Britney was on the cover, packed Britney look-alike contests and Britney concerts.

Girls, especially pre-pubescent girls, want desperately to grow up. Britney gave them a way to do that. At the tender ages of 8, 9 and 10 they became thong feminists singing that they would do whatever it takes to snag a man. This drove older, pantsuit feminists crazy.

Did we work our way into America’s boardrooms for this, the pantsuits asked.

Every quote that came out of Britney’s mouth confirmed their impression that she was a lightweight.

“I like lighthearted, girl-flick, love-story movies,” she told the Associated Press. “It’s easy to watch, not that deep.”

Newsweek quotes Britney saying she’s “been into a lot of Indian spiritual religions.” Is Hinduism one of them? She replies: “What’s that? Is it like kabbalah?”

She told the German magazine Cinema that Heaven is a place where “everyone is at peace and happy, and they all hop around from cloud to cloud.”

She told the London Mirror, “I don’t like my fingernails, I don’t like my feet, I don’t like my nose . . . I do like my lips.”

Why?

Because her then-boyfriend — singer Justin Timberlake — “says he likes my lips.”

Some Britney haters feel betrayed because they took the pop icon at face value. They watched her grow up, starting out at 12 as a Mouseketeer. She sang in the choir at First Baptist Church in her home town of Kentwood, La., and at 16 she launched her first CD, “Baby One More Time,” wearing a Catholic school uniform on the accompanying video. Her blond, girl-next-door looks won her acclaim as the country’s prom queen in national magazines.

When she started revving up the sexpot image it was all right, at first, because she claimed to be a virgin. “I’m a not girl, not yet a woman,” she sang.

Then it came to light that she had given up her virginity while pretending she hadn’t, and Britney haters really came out of the closet. She was losing her voice, they said. That’s why she lip-synced all her concerts. Her voice was digitally processed, they said, her dancing not as fluid as it was when she was younger.

“The old Britney was really fun,” remembers Kreutzberg, who lives in Bethesda, Md. “Innocence was a part of it. Her choreography was new and fresh; she was kind of an original. But in the ensuing years, she’s gotten cheap. If you’re promoting yourself only from the sexual angle, you’re missing a whole life.”

Meredith Small, an anthropologist at Cornell University, says, “We get upset when our actresses turn out to be awful people.”

Britney rage is not just about Britney, says Nancy Gruver, publisher of a magazine for girls and a newsletter for their parents. The anger is also aimed at an increasingly savage marketing industry that sells fashion and beauty to girls with the notion that sexiness equals independence.

In 1959 Mattel started pitching its Barbie doll directly to girls instead of their parents, and almost a half-century later we have Mattel’s Miranda doll, which closely resembles Britney.

There’s also Britney on sunglasses, handbags, bellybutton rings, video games and, of course, singing Pepsi’s “Joy of Cola.” Last year, according to news reports, the Britney empire made more than $100 million, more than the Tiger Woods machine. Is this what America means by girl power?

Parents don’t get off the hook here, not entirely. A not-so-secret secret is that Britney’s mother has stage-managed much of her daughter’s career. And who takes all those young girls to Britney’s concerts? Who doles out $18 for a Britney baby-doll shirt or $33 for a corset?

Perhaps parents are overheated because they haven’t told their daughters that trash is trash no matter how glamorous it may seem. Or they’ve told them, and it didn’t amount to a hill of beans against the Britney package.

Kay Hymowitz, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute who writes about children, thinks parents should give their Britney anxiety a rest. At least some teens are losing interest in Britney, she says. “Britney’s a little too shelly,” says Kreutzberg’s sixth-grader, Kara.

As in skanky? “Yes. Like the clothes she wears, the underwear. I liked her when she was younger but her style has kind of changed. She has to keep her publicity up.”

Credit: The Washington Post, via The Florida Ledger Online

Chris’ commentary:

When Britney first arrived on the pop music scene in the late 1990s, she was jockeying for position on the billboard charts with a slew of other blonde pop princesses who were also known merely for their bubble gum likeability: Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, and Mandy Moore. Since their debuts, however, only Britney has been left in the cold when it comes to adding substance to her otherwise pointless routine.

Despite, or perhaps because of her utter “dumbness”, Jessica Simpson managed to serve as the anchor of the surprise reality show hit of 2003: Newlyweds, with husband Nick Lachey. Simpson also has a singing voice Britney could only dream about, and I just get the feeling that she is much smarter than we all think. After all, how could she be anymore stupid?

Mandy Moore is now a mature brunette rather than a blonde teen queen. She also has a moderate box office hit under her belt (“A Walk To Remember”), another notch in the belt that Britney does not yet boast. In fact, compared with Spears’ “Crossroads”, Mandy’s “Walk” deserves an Oscar nomination. In a recent Entertainment Weekly article, Moore also was quoted as saying she would love to give her fans a full refund for her debut album, showing she can make light of her bubble gum past.

Christina Aguilera, meanwhile, has the best voice of the lot. Britney may have garnered more headlines as a result of the Madonna kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards, but I have a feeling she would have given Christina all the front and back covers she wanted in exchange for the critical acclaim Aguilera received for her sophomore album, “Stripped.” The bottom line is that Christina has something to say on her records, even if she is saying she’s proud to be a naughty little slut. Hey, at least she can back up her smack without lip-synching.

All kidding aside, if I had to wager a bet as to which former Mouseketeer will still have a recording contract in five years, Christina would get a unanimous vote from my multiple personalities, even the dirty old man that has a soft spot for easy blondes in pig-tails. Sorry Britney, but even former American Idol contestant Nikki McKibbon could hold her own better than you in a live performance, and to quote Simon Cowell, “That’s absolutely pathetic.”

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News: Michael Jackson

In the Media:

Ed Bumgardner of The Winstom Salem Journal shared his personal feelings about the latest set of molestation charges brought forth against Michael Jackson:

“It’s talented. It’s fun. It’s freakish. It’s sad. It’s scary. It’s “playing makeup” gone horribly, ghoulishly awry.

Why, it’s Michael Jackson.

And now “it” has been charged with three counts of conducting lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14. Each count carries a possible sentence of three to eight years in prison. Nine years minimum if he’s convicted, 24 years maximum.

Jackson faced similar charges 10 years ago. The child-molestation laws in California, where Jackson survives, have been changed since 1993. In fact, they were changed because of Jackson.

His accuser, a 13-year-old boy, refused to testify in criminal court. Jackson settled the boy’s civil lawsuit for a reported $25 million.

This time, his accuser – insiders say that it is a 12-year-old boy – will testify. He has to. It is now required by law. If you point the finger, then you have to back it up.

Jackson will stand trial. The state seems almost giddy in its insistence of a good, airtight case against him. The charges against Jackson follow a three-month investigation and the searching of his Neverland Ranch and two undisclosed locations.

This is the end of a long, wildly eccentric public spiral for Jackson. His addiction to plastic surgery has left him mutilated. He has bleached his skin white and repeatedly changed his features, in essence turning his back on his race. His behavior gets more bizarre.

“Wacko Jacko” has wholly consumed Michael Jackson. It is hard to even remember the genius of his early work. Once an international star, he is now struggling to retain popularity in, oh, Poland. His allure in the United States is that of a $5 freak show.

Michael Jackson. Prison. He wouldn’t survive. The date of his incarceration would be declared an annual holiday within the penal system.

It would not be pretty.

The mere thought of Jackson in prison, even if it is deserved, is inconceivable. It is even more inconceivable than Jackson actually believing that he is, in any way, the child star who led the Jackson 5 to stardom – or, for that matter, the gifted young man who recorded Thriller, one of the most perfect and successful albums in history.

It is also as inconceivable as the thought of Jackson – not a man, not a child – growing old.
He can’t grow old. He has never grown up.

He is Peter Pan gone haywire. No normal 45-year-old man hangs out with – and by his own admission, sleeps in the same bed with – children.

He is also an adult, and, by law, accountable for his actions. The rub is that, by all indications, Jackson is an adult in years only. He remains forever a boy in search of a childhood that was stolen from him by the demands of showbiz. He was supporting his family at 11. By 13, he was a solo star.

No time for childish games. No time for friends. No time for fun.

In his heart, I believe Jackson thinks he is doing no wrong. He remains a boy, a confused boy, out of touch with reality in a way that a celebrity has never been – and that is saying something.
Celebrity is a big part of the problem. It is Jackson’s celebrity, combined with the greed of others, that enables parents to feel comfortable letting their sons spend time with Jackson.

Don’t be quick to judge: Everybody gets star-struck, and for years, there was no bigger or more charismatic star on the planet than Michael Jackson.

He lives in a theme park. His every whim is catered to, his every desire is met. Reality is suspended in his presence. But that doesn’t make the charges he is facing disappear – or make any possible consequences less real.

Jackson will stand trial. He may well be convicted. He should be considered a serious suicide risk. What once seemed to be an amusing blip on our cultural radar is now a drama with no happy ending.

How sad for Jackson. How sad for the children. How sad for our world.

Credit: The Winston Salem Journal, North Carolina

Chris’ Commentary:

It is obvious that there is something seriously wrong with Michael Jackson. Even if he is exonerated from all wrongdoing as it pertains to these latest allegations, I remain absolutely baffled that this man is still the legal guardian of three young children. Pedophile or no pedophile, I personally feel that Jackson should have lost his right as a father when he playfully dangled his own baby off a hotel ledge in Germany.

If you think about it, how many other parents in this world would still have custody of their kids if they pulled a stunt like that? Even if there doesn’t legally turn out to be a molestation victim in this pending case, someone at Child Protective Services has to be notified that there’s an unfit parent who just so happens to be a bizarre washed up pop star. Ultimately, what this boils down to is that I’m just sick of giving people “one more chance” to harm their innocent, guiltless children.

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Chris’ Wild Card Commentary:

The Video Game Awards: Excellent or Extraneous?

The first annual Video Game Awards were indeed broadcast on Spike TV last Thursday, December 4th at 9:00 p.m. (EST/PST). The show was hosted by David Spade, and presenters/performers included L’il Kim, P.O.D., Pamela Anderson, the Oakland Raider cheerleaders, and Andrew W.K. There were even two wrestling matches courtesy of WWE, as well as a skateboarding exhibition by extreme sports neo-legend Tony Hawk.

In a TV month that has been filled with a bevy of banal awards programs, such as the less than stellar Radio Music Awards and VH1’s Big (load of shit) in 2003, the VGA’s were a welcome deviation from the unappealing norm. Video games have been around since the advent of the first Pong system in the early 1970s, and the fact that I have the following systems currently in my possession is further proof that an awards show dedicated to one of modern technology’s most fun and innovative past-times is long overdue: Magnavox Odyssey, Intellivision, Commodore 64, Nintendo, Genesis, Nintendo 64, and Playstation 2.

On a side note, I must give kudos to Spike TV, which has done a spectacular job this season creating shows of high interest to the 18-34 year-old male demographic. My favorite Spike offering this year was the hilariously fake reality show “The Joe Schmo Show”, where every moment in a mansion occupied by actors playing typical reality show roles was scripted around Matt Kennedy Gould, a lovable American schmuck from Pittsburgh, PA.

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Well, here we are, 3,431 words and going strong. I could post even more nuggets of information and provide additional biting commentary, but the fact of the matter is that it’s getting late, and before I get to sleep I have some unfinished business to take care of in my season of Tecmo Super Bowl. Randall Cunningham – who goes under the TSB alias “QB Eagles” – is carrying me almost single-handedly to an undefeated season, but I face a tough challenge this week against Lawrence Taylor and the defending (1990) champion New York Giants.

Maybe I should send some hookers to LT’s hotel room so he’s a little weak in the knees come game time. Just a trick a little birdie told me the other day on 60 Minutes

That’s all for now PEACE.

-Chris Biscuiti, chris411wrestling@yahoo.com

Chris Biscuiti is also a columnist for the 411mania wrestling zone and for moodspins.