Wednesday, October 28, 2009

View From the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Given my media commentary gig here and my work with young people in real life it would seem inevitable that I would have a comment on the whole Balloon boy/Heene Family story. To be honest I'd rather not. In the great American tradition of innocent until proven guilty I'll give the Heenes the benefit of the doubt for the moment, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

Instead let's take a minute to look at the underlying cause of an awful lot of stupidity in American culture. Call it the cult of fame. For this I'm afraid I may have to lay a fair portion of the blame at the feet of a fellow Pittsburgh boy Andy Warhol. Warhol's well known statement that "In the future everyone in the world will be famous for 15 minutes" seems to have taken root as religious writ in our society. It's no longer a matter that it might come true but rather that it is our Constitutionally protected right to be famous. Our lives are not complete unless we've had our moment in the sun. Sadly we overlook a very important fact about fame. It doesn't play favorites and it doesn't play fair.

Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Wilbur Mills, all the guests on the Jerry Springer show. Every last one of them got their 15 minutes of fame. Care to swap places with them? Monica Lewinsky, like to carry around her kind of fame for the rest of your life? We treat fame like it's some kind of grand prize, as if there were nothing better on the face of the earth than being FAMOUS. Yet take a look at the lives of the vast majority of the folks who have achieved fame. They spend large portions of their lives and their fortunes trying to get OUT of the spotlight. They can't eat a meal at a restaurant, fill up their gas tank or just have a quiet drink at the neighborhood bar. The other side of fame is that it isn't yours to keep. While you're famous an enormous flock of vultures will descend on you trying to steal, borrow or just rub off some of your fame. And they'll be very angry if you don't play their game.

And don't forget the other famous phrase on the subject - "Fame is fleeting". A moment ago I mentioned Wilbur Mills. If you're a political junkie that name may have immediately meant something. My bet is a lot of you thought it sounded familiar but couldn't recall that he was the Ohio congressman found drunk in the Tidal Basin in our nation's capital in the company of a stripper (extra points for her name - Fanne Fox). The best news for the congressman is that most of us have forgotten him. The Heenes need to hope we'll do the same for them.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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