You Have Got to Be Kidding Me! (Please Tell Me You Are)

Media Guy Vents Over Some Relatively Minor Annoyances

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I'm fed up to here and I'm not going to take it anymore. If you could view the viral-video version of this column, you'd see that I'm pointing to roughly shin level. In other words, this week's column takes on some (relatively) small annoyances. But I thought I should take care of them now, before they get infected.
Mickey Spillane
Mickey Spillane Credit: AP

Magazine stupidity week
Last week a dork-ass faux comic-book character -- "the muscular Captain Read," as the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) put it, "complete with crimson tights, a black cape and a lightning-bolt 'M' for magazines on his chest" -- went around to media-buying agencies to hand out fact sheets. The occasion? Something called Magazine Accountability Week. Good Lord!

When I lived in Baltimore, local activists briefly tried to counter the city's (deserved) reputation for illiteracy by slapping the slogan "BALTIMORE READS!" on bus shelters next to a pictogram stick figure shown reading a book. I'm sorry, but these sorts of tone-deaf, contrived, wishful-thinking campaigns (whether they're about books or magazines) always backfire. Thankfully, quick-thinking graffiti artists sprayed "BREEDS" over "READS" on the signs all over town and drew huge bellies on the stick figures to underscore the city's other big embarrassment: sky-high teen-pregnancy rates.

Of course, "Captain Breed" would make perfect sense for the magazine industry right now -- see any number of idiotic celebrity weekly stories about (real or imagined) starlet pregnancies--- but mostly I need Captain Read to go away and stop reminding everyone how subliterate the magazine industry has become. Way to rub our noses in it, MPA!

The slut beat
Did you catch the recent New York Times article about the rehabilitation of the word "slut"? Pulitzer Prize-winning D.C.-based Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd did. She wrote a whole column about it and helpfully rounded things out by doing some original reporting. Specifically, she interviewed her "23-year-old assistant, Ashley," "my classy 26-year-old girlfriend," "one 24-year-old Washington reporter" and "one 25-year-old writer in D.C." Thanks for reaching out, Mo.

You know, I was going to write a column this week that would consist of my interviewing my boyfriend, my cats and my toaster-oven about what they thought of Maureen Dowd's Times piece about a Times piece -- but instead I'm turning it into a screenplay for a Lifetime miniseries.

Oprah and Gayle are happy-gay, not gay-gay
Look, when I worked with Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King (on the launch of O magazine), I didn't think they were gay. I still don't think they're gay. I don't care that they think that the American public might think they're gay, or that their in-print denials of their gayness (in the current O) are making many people who'd never a-thunk about their possible gayness now think they actually are gay. What I am concerned about is how to strike from my mind the images of Oprah and Gayle sharing a pint of Ben & Jerry's Neapolitan Dynamite (with one spoon), loofahing each other in the shower (in slo-mo) and then shopping at Home Depot together (taking turns pushing the cart).

Robert Tur of Los Angeles News Service is suing YouTube for hosting user-uploaded footage originally produced by his company, including snippets of the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the '92 race riots. Look, first of all, it's not that hard to get YouTube to remove videos you claim ownership of; they do it all the time. Second of all, dude, you think you somehow "own" Denny's beating? What, were you planning on releasing it on a bloopers DVD? Legitimate producers who want to use the video in a commercial setting -- i.e., on broadcast TV or in a documentary film about the L.A. riots -- aren't going to be less likely to buy it just because it's floating around the web. Last I checked everything was floating around the web. And seismic news events have a way of entering the public domain, regardless of the sense of ownership some reporters may have over them. Let it go.

Old dude dies in nursing home! Stop the presses!
Last week a "CNN Breaking News Alert" e-mail blast went out that read, "Mystery writer Mickey Spillane dies after a long illness, a nursing home spokesman says. He was 87." My old friend Rory Evans got it too and e-mailed me, "In this week of utter turmoil and possibly imminent nuclear war, the death of Mickey Spillane still warrants an APB?" This week, watch for a CNN Breaking News Alert that reads "Captain Read, comic-book heterosexual, survives brutal beating; makes plans to read Maureen Dowd's Times piece about a Times piece during convalescence."

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