March 9, 2008


So it's come to this. The "creators" of our media-saturated, celeb-obsessed culture now have the cameras (fictiously) turned on them. (I put "creators" in quotes, because aren't we, by eating it all up, also "creators"?)
"Dirt," in its second season, stars Courtney Cox as Lucy, the cutthroat head of a Hollywood tabloid, "Dirt," who blackmails and bribes her way to stay atop the scoop and scandal mill. Her sidekick is a fascinating character-study: a schizophrenic paparazzo, Don, (the Emmy-worthy Ian Hart) with whom she is in a co-dependent, non-romantic relationship, probably her only true friend in the world. He has the uncanny ability to accurately and disinterestedly tell people exactly who they are and what's wrong with them, including Lucy.

Work is life and life is all business for Lucy. Nothing is out of bounds or beyond limits, not even "destroying lives" on a daily basis. However, celebrities can play the same game, and Lucy often finds herself threatened in return.
The graphics, camerawork, writing, editing and acting have come way up in this second season, and the show is really saying something now and living up to its potential, without being too ponderous. Lucy queries: "Celebrities sign up for this circus. Imagine where they'd be if we didn't do this!" Journalism majors working at the rag chide each other for selling out. Scenarios are thinly-veiled replays of Britney, Paris and Anna Nicole Smith, and we feel like we're getting to see how the fame-maker-and-breaker machine works. It's sad. The slivers of humanity are hard to find, and it makes us very glad we're not famous, or have anything to do with this world. Or do we? Hard-as-nails Lucy is hard on herself and adheres to her own strict code: no gossip, no support for politicians, no payola for pure spin (she wants real interviews), she actually only prints the truth, the ugly, dark truth. Her cynicism about human nature always pays off--she knows her subject(s) only too well.
One question I have: in our digitial world, where photos are less and less admitted as evidence in court (because of their manipulability)--why are photos still big in Hollywood? Maybe it has something to do with the legality of it all. If a celebrity is not careful enough, and winds up in an authentic photograph, there's not much they can do about it?
The show begins with a warning that it contains mature material. Some episodes, but not all, can be rather ribald.
'Dirt' is rated TV-MA and contains strong language, sexuality, nudity, and violence. Visit for more information on ratings and rating reasons.
My uber-talented cousin, Alexandra Breckenridge, plays Willa, Lucy's assistant.


May I highly recommend an Australian film that raises questions about the role of the media in shaping public opinion of an individual? "A Cry in the Dark," 1988, starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill, is the true story of Lindy Chamberlain, accused of killing her baby. Is it the media or old-fashioned gossipping that causes Lindy to be accused?

The feature story of the February 21st issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, "Britney Spears: Inside an American Tragedy," chronicles Britney from a pressured, all-about-externals, stage-mothered childhood to her present breakdown. The article basically states that she is locked in her current disastrous situation because everyone around her simply betrays her and sells her. The temptation is too great: she is just too valuable a piece of property not to make a buck off. The drugs and alcohol certainly don't help, but what if--from your earliest years--all you knew is that you were a performer, and that's what everyone expected and wanted you to be? What if that's the only way you ever got approval or attention (even from your family)? People who know Britney state that "she doesn't know who she is," and that she often pretends she's dumb so that maybe she can try to find out what's really going on her own life, and who she can trust. She has fantasies of runnning away and leading a normal life, but alas, would we ever let her do that? What is being done to Britney is an incredible injustice and travesty of human dignity.    
The writer sums up: "Britney isn't ashamed of herself. She wants us to see what we did to her."
 February 21, 2008 - Issue #1046


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