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Another Sign of the Decline of Western Civilization

Larry Wines: Sadly, society has forgotten what we once taught young children: that there is a difference between attracting attention for positive and negative behavior, and there are different consequences.

Some otherwise good cable news shows each spent ten minutes discussing a stolen hotel elevator security video. It depicts a pop star and her rapper husband in an elevator with her little sister, who physically assaults the rapper until, eventually, a member of his entourage steps-in. (Rappers always have an entourage, it would seem.)

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The only intelligent remark? A guest on one show asserted, "It's all about money. A tape like that goes for a quarter of a million dollars. A security guard has a chance to make four to six years' salary, all at once."

That brings us to the worst aspects.

  • WHY is "a tape like that" worth all that money -- or ANY money, except in court, in an action for assault and battery?
  • WHY is there a public appetite for images of celebrities behaving badly?
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We can identify only part of the answers -- what happens because that hunger exists. Having worked in show biz for a decade, I've seen it. Expensive publicists exploit those appetites. They advise clients when it's time to act-out because their name hasn't been mentioned in the news cycle.

We can't say for certain that's what happened here -- but we do know it drives the behavior of that curious phenomenon of celebrities who are famous for being famous, yet possess no discernible talent. The segment of the public who lives for that stuff, who salivate and get sexually aroused over it, create a market for more of it.

Sadly, society has forgotten what we once taught young children: that there is a difference between attracting attention for positive and negative behavior, and there are different consequences. If we accept the doctrine that refusal to reward a child's bad behavior results in "extinction," why don't we apply the same standard to adults? Specifically, to over-pampered celebrities, arrogantly grandstanding politicians, and others whose place in the news is based on annoying us?

The rest of us can combat all this. Register your disgust with with its disseminators. Express outrage that it's being foisted on us as "news." Protest it every time they do it.

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If enough people do that and -- this is important -- do it without being drawn into some dialog about which dimwit celebrity exhibited disgusting behavior -- we can make it go away.

Larry Wines
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