Under Our Skin

Lake Superior State University unveiled its 2009 “List of Banished Words,” which encompasses popular words or phrases of the year that were overused, used incorrectly or just plain annoying. MediaMyopic was pleased to learn of several cross words between Lake Superior’s list and our blog’s monthly survey on irritating presidential election catch phrases. We’d like to take the list one step further, introducing our own “Banished Peoples List,” featuring household names that should have remained in obscurity, infamous people of the year and those who we don’t ever need to hear from again. The list includes: Bristol Palin, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Rod Blagojevich, Bernard Madoff, Keith Olbermann, Plaxico Burress,  John Edwards, The Jonas Brothers, Mylie Cyrus, Amy Whinehouse, anonymous Iraqi shoe tosser, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Joe the Plumber, George W. Bush, Ashley Dupre, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, guy from the Mac versus PC ads, pregnant man Thomas Beatie, Kanye West, A. Rod., Fred Thompson,  Proposition 8 supporters (i.e. Mormons), Hurricane Gustav — and the person who comes up with these asinine storm names, Kathy Griffin, the cast of “High School Musical,” and every financial sector/Detroit automaker CEO. Let us know who we left out.

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Sweet Caroline the Leftist Palin?

Caroline Kennedy’s announcement of her interest in filling the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton has opened up a Pandora’s Box of political scrutiny with her biggest criticisms strikingly similar to what the public heard about Sarah Palin, after McCain named the unknown gun-toting mom his vice presidential nominee. According to the critics, Kennedy is a princess who has never worked a 9-to-5 job. Despite hailing from the country’s most prominent political family, the pundits say she lacks experience and has peculiarly avoided the media during Governor David Paterson’s appointment process. Hmmmm, an inexperienced female political office seeker hidden from view? This does sound familiar.  After finally agreeing to talk shop with The New York Times, the paper deemed her vague and elusive. What’s more, she admitted that she seldom votes. While she stopped short of saying she doesn’t know what a senator does — perhaps learning that from the folksy Wasilla gal (wink, wink) — it was far from the entrance to the political stage that her supporters had hoped for. Unfair as it is, women are held to an even greater degree of vetting before taking political office (though, you’d never learn that from McCain); clearly defined goals, visions and voting records must be identified prior to pitching your case. We’d never put you on the same page as Palin but you have not learned from her mistakes either.

Mass Audiences Need a Jolt — or Shot

In one of those quirky only in Philadelphia at Christmas time stories that television media rolls with for days, a man shot a loud movie theater patron in the arm for making too much noise during the film. According to Newsweek, James Joseph Ciallela shot the man because he couldn’t keep a lid on his unruly family. Finally! I applaud someone for standing up to the masses that behave in theaters like they do in malls. I disagree with the means by which Ciallela handled the encounter at the United Artists Riverview Stadium theater, but serious filmgoers have been silenced too long. It wasn’t long ago, before all of our mobile devices, that we went to the theater solely to see the movie; attended a concert simply  for the music, or participated in a sporting event to support the home team. Now these pastimes have been relegated to hangouts, places to see and be seen. Most in attendance chat away on their cell phones; people come in clusters and talk amongst themselves and others are just moving around to scan the crowds for people they know. The experience has been sobering to real fans, resulting in the loss of Hollywood revenue, concert ticket sales and lackluster crowds at professional sporting events for even the most dominant of teams like the 24-6 Orlando Magic. It’s time these entities consider creating a true fan-friendly environment. The problem with appeasing mass culture is the fact that it sours an industry’s true supporters, and history has shown us that the disloyal masses move on from one entertainment source to another: the venue, event, film, band doesn’t matter, as long as they’re entertained, distracted and connected. But they won’t be the ones filling the seats when crowds start thinning out. Now I’m not sure anyone will.

Another Bush Slap in the Face of Science

Pygmy rabbit and one of 15 known policy victims.

Above: Pygmy rabbit and one of 15 known policy victims.

With the Bush Administration’s abysmal efforts on global warming and climate change (i.e. politics trumping science) it should come as little surprise to learn that the Interior Department has discovered that measures were taken by agency authorities to stymie the process of naming wildlife to the the endangered species list, with The New York Times citing former deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks Julie Macdonald as the most egregious offender. Macdonald has since resigned but is accused of deleting e-mails from lobbyists and ignoring scientific information that could have placed some 15 species, including the pygmy rabbit, on the endangered list. And director of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists Francesca Grifo told the Times that this behavior is merely characteristic of the Bush Administration: “Over and over again, in agency after agency, we’ve seen where special interests bump up against scientific determinations, the science is set aside.” With the public growing desensitized to the Bush Administration’s mounting number of misdeeds, let’s not allow the media to “set aside” this story, too.

Foreclosure, Facebook Style

You can run but you can’t hide. This week a court in Australia ruled that social networking sites are an adequate medium for mortgage lenders to notify borrowers that they’re losing their homes. Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesperson, reportedly told news outlets that, “we’re pleased to see the Australian court validate Facebook as a reliable, secure and private medium for communication.” Schnitt may want to re-think his enthusiasm, as people are already crying Big Brother. But social networking users are rather naive to have ever thought these sites would serve strictly social purposes. First came the advertisers, then media began citing the pages as legit sources, employers followed suit, and now colleges are evaluating personal profiles in the admissions process. Once we disclose personal information in a public realm, albeit a virtual one, the public has little recourse in claiming rights to privacy. Conceal, expose and exaggerate what you will on these websites but, in an age of digital narcissism, we’re beginning to learn that the masses must take the humility with the vanity.

The Sad ‘Reality’ of NBC

Jeff Zucker

NBC's Jeff Zucker

Washed up celebs around the world should be on standby for their return to the limelight. Yes, that means you Dave Coulier. Speaking at the 36th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference last week, NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker was anything but jovial about the network’s future. With few hit shows, declining ad revenue, and a desperate Jay Leno move, NBC seems to have taken a bare minimum approach to programming. No longer the network powerhouse of yesterday, Zucker offered a negative outlook on the future of network television. According to Zucker, NBC now relies on its portfolio of cable companies – Oxygen, MSNBC, USA, Bravo, etc. – to bring home the bucks. But do Zucker’s comments signal the beginning of the end for network television, or are they simply a stunt to exonerate himself from allowing CBS, ABC and Fox to out muscle the mighty Peacock? Let’s be honest: viewership is up; network television isn’t going anywhere. This talk signals nothing more than an indifference to program investment which will ultimately result in one thing: reality television – morning, noon and night.

The Wal-Mart Way

Blatant misuse of the color blue!

Blatant misuse of the color blue!

The automatic blanket raises (for simply having a pulse), obscenely generous benefits packages and overzealous lobbying is nothing short of disgusting: clearly the American concept of employers’ unions have run amuck. While unions, much like communism, are positive in theory, the negotiating tactics, pie-in-the-sky demands and overall political correctness that comes with such representation is rather sickening. But if anyone deserves a union, it’s the retail employees of Wal-Mart. Allegations of hiring special needs workers below minimum wage, poor working conditions (sometimes without breaks) and unrealistic costs of basic health coverage have dogged the reputation of the nation’s largest retailer, which has made an anti-union platform a top priority. Now the chain has mounted a campaign to rally its employees to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential election, since Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation friendly to unionizing. Employees recently told The Wall Street Journal that store executives threatened that a vote for Obama could equate to massive store layoffs and costly union dues. Perhaps next time shoppers are at the check-out line, they’ll start requiring cashiers to ask them for $1 donations to McCain’s campaign, rather than the March of Dimes. Let’s be honest Wal-Mart. It’s high time you change the color of your vests from blue to red. Clearly, that’s where your politics lie.