I vented about this almost two years ago and there’s a growing chorus of respectable journalists like Tom Brokaw who have vocally joined the cause. Whatever the hell that function is that used to pass as the White House Correspondents Dinner is now so over the top, so disgusting in its opulence and crassness and such an incestuous and inappropriate coupling of the so-called independent media and those they are supposed to cover impartially- that it’s no wonder the public can’t stand either the blowhards who populate politics and Hollywood or the blowhards who cover them.
But as the Washington Post points out, the dirty little secret is that this dinner is actually about corporate interests. The celebrities are really the window dressing; the honey that attracts the corporations- i.e.- potential advertisers that populate the Washington Hilton dinner tables and after-parties as much as the so-called stars. Yes, cash-strapped news organizations that fire journalists every quarter, spend upwards of a quarter a million dollars a year without batting an eyelash in order to host a party that draws the stars that, in turn, draws the CEO’s and CFO’s and maybe, if they’re lucky, get a little money spent on banner ads and 60-second spots. There’s no way of knowing how much return there is on the investment. And no, you can’t blame media companies for trying to find funding- but this really has become an unseemly orgy of power, celebrity and money mongering.
Not that the celebrity portion of this is tasteful or measured in any way. For example, it was revealed this week that the White House Correspondent’s Association is threatening to sue a company over its use of the WHCA name to invite celebrities to its “gifting” suite on the night of the dinner. That’s right, a “gifting” suite. Bags of expensive swag only for the celebrities being invited by the various media companies. This is like the goodie bags they hand out at the Oscars. New this year and offered as yet another exhibit of the superficiality of this once fun and interesting event.
The point of this event used to be to give reporters an opportunity to invite their sources to a nice dinner where there would be humorous speeches by special guests as well as the President of the United States. It all changed in the 1980’s when then celebrity-of-the-moment, Fawn Hall, got an invite on the strength of being Oliver North’s secretary. Then the following year, Donna Rice of Gary Hart fame got an invite. Now, media companies shell out 1st class airfare, hotel suites and cold, hard cash to get the buzziest celebs.
So as this celebration of incestuous trough feeding continues to morph into the grotesque, with Lindsey Lohan and the Kardashians supplanting the Donna Rices and Fawn Halls, let’s call this what it really is: the erection of more and more walls separating politicians, corporations, and the media from the public- the people who elect the pols, give corporations their profits and read, listen or watch the media. The little people are not welcome on this day except behind the rope lines to watch the preening on the red carpet.
The current President of the WHCA, Ed Henry of Fox News, justifies all of this decadence by pointing out that over $100,000 is raised to support needy kids hungry for scholarships. A good cause, indeed. But considering the money media companies spend to put on their parties and fly in their celebrities, really, 100K is chump change. It ought to be more like a cool million. So here’s an idea, Ed. For 100K, hold a friggin’ bake sale. Hey- it’s all about the scholarships. Right.
Other than Mila Kunis and Jennifer Lawrence, I hate celebrities. I take pride in not recognizing their names or even being aware of their existence. My ignorance about them defeats their unending need for attention. But this Bieber kid has sent my celebrity-hatred into overdrive.
First, the little jerk tweets endlessly about his upcoming birthday. Who does that? Then when his birthday arrives he makes a big deal about going out shirtless to clubs where he knows he’s going to be assaulted by underage girls. He wears this expression that says, “God, I hate being so loved like this.”
He gets kicked out of a club or arrives and leaves quickly or something after getting into a dispute with bouncers and tweets: “Worst Birthday Ever.” He later deletes the tweet after, I presume, his agent or his nanny told him he was coming off like a spoiled, 1st world brat.
Then he’s 2 hours late for a London concert, royally angering thousands of parents who paid good money to get their 8-year old daughters there and, hopefully out in time to catch a train and to bed before school the next day. Bieber claims technical problems caused the delay, but security guards say he was late playing video games.
Then in an apparent bid to win sympathy he gets short of breath or something at another concert and has to take a brief break while a rep takes to the stage to say that even though Bieber should be going to a hospital, he’s going to bravely finish the concert. Which he does- then checks into a hospital, taking up a bed normally reserved for people who are actually sick- then instagrams a picture of himself without his shirt on in said hospital bed.
Then as he walks from a hotel to a limo, he brushes against a paparazzi, who tells him to go the hell back home to the states and the young superstar pops back out of the limo and threatens to “f—ing beat the f—out of you,” while his body guards hustle him back into the car.
He is, quite simply, out of control and needs to be grounded. Or better yet, he needs to read either a history on the inevitable, pathetic decline of teen idols or a 1971 issue of Teen magazine with Bobby Sherman on the cover- and then be shown pictures of Bobby Sherman today. This, Biebes, is you at 70.
Now, for someone who hates celebrities so much, why, you might ask, would I know so much about Justin Bieber’s very bad week? Because the kid is like a slow motion car accident, that’s why. And like any other normal human being, when you see a car wreck it’s hard to turn away.
So this is me not turning away.
Oh Ma Ga. I cannot believe I’m writing about Lindsay Lohan. Then again, it’s not every day a spoiled brat with a gigantic sense of entitlement and self-importance gets their due.
Seven times she failed to show up for an alcohol education class she had been mandated to attend due to not one, but two DUI convictions. The excuses were many. Stolen passport while attending the Cannes Film festival and was stranded in France. Flight problems in North Carolina. The death of an Uncle (she didn’t attend the funeral).
Prosecutors were not amused. As Danette Meyers put it, “Once, maybe, you’d have an excuse. Twice, an oversight. Three times, still haven’t caught her attention. . . . Seven times, the court is irrelevant to her.”
Meyers asked for Ms. Lohan to serve 30 days in the clinker. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel begged to differ. She went for three times that; 90 days in the slammer. Plus another 90 in rehab. So much for the best defense lawyers money can buy.
This is not just about a screwed-up, substance-abusing, egotistical actress. This is about somebody who gets wasted and then thinks it’s cool to drive a 2-ton automobile. On May 26, 2007, Lindsay Lohan drove a Mercedes-Benz into a hedge along Sunset Boulevard. Next time, who knows, maybe it’s a child instead of a hedge.
California defense attorney Mark Geragos says this is a case of a celebrity getting reverse preferential treatment- more time in jail because she’s famous. He argues prison time is not what’s needed here, rehab is.
Ok. She got her 90 days of rehab. The other 90 have nothing to do with her mental health. It’s for ours. Makes us feel like there is a sense of justice out there and no matter how pretty or rich or famous you are- no one is above the law. It goes for Presidents and it goes for actresses too.
I used to attend the White House Correspondents Association Dinner just about every year so I had some mixed emotions this year about, well- not caring anymore. I stayed home instead and made some kick-ass short ribs.
This dinner has morphed considerably through the years and from what I have read, seemed to have reached an entirely new phase last Saturday night. Officially gone now are the days when any schmuck in a tux or a schmuckette in a nice dress could simply walk into one of the dozens of news organization-sponsored pre-parties at the Washington Hilton. Now you need tickets to the pre-parties. Probably a good thing; it was getting to be an honest-to-goodness fire hazard.
I understand the roped-off area at the lower entrance to the Hilton that used to accommodate screaming fans was done away with. The pre and post party celebrations and cocktails extend for four days in what is now becoming WHCA week.
And the celebrity lists continue to grow. There have always been politically conscious Hollywood celebrities- but now all of them are making the coast-to-coast trip in their private jets. It’s the place to be seen. Ryan Seacrest, the Jonas brothers, Dennis Quaid, Ashley Judd, Queen Latifa, Michael Douglass, Justin Bieber, Jon Bon Jovi.
But the true mark of how Hollywood this dinner has become is the celebrity B-listers who have begun showing up. These are the celebrities that celebrity magazines tell us are celebrities but that we did not know were celebrities. Who ARE these people?
Gabourey Sidibe- People Magazine table
Tom Colicchio – People Magazine table
Mariska Hargitay- NBC Table
Ali Larter- Fox News table
Zach Galifianakis- Was rumored to have attended
Lore has it that everything changed for good back in the 1980’s when a journalist got inspired and invited Fawn Hall to the dinner; the attractive Oliver North aide who had just testified on Capitol Hill in the Iran-Contra scandal. Soon media organizations started competing with each other for the most scandalous guests and then the biggest celebrity guests, until the event finally became the Academy Awards-East.
Along the way, the Gridiron dinner pretty much died and the other big dinner which actually used to be at least as prestigious- the Radio Television Correspondents dinner- is now an after-thought.
Things change. The first fence was not installed at the White House until around 1900 when Teddy Roosevelt was President. And even then it was only about a foot high. Regular people used to actually picnic on the White House grounds. Now, of course, if you manage to get on the North Lawn with a picnic basket, you’ll be shot and killed.
So the White House Correspondent dinners I remember with the one-foot high fence around them are gone; really gone, gone.
There are reportedly members of the White House Press corps who look at this annual and growing celebrity invasion with a sense of alarm and are beginning to seriously wonder if the thing has gotten completely out of control. It certainly has a life of its own.
I think it’s here to stay. This is a celebrity-based culture and our President is a celebrity and the White House reporters who cover him are celebrities and Washington and Hollywood are now breeding and this is the baby that has been born.
So while others drank and ogled and laughed at comedy delivered by Barack Obama and Jay Leno but written by ghost-writers; as people in tuxedos and formal dresses schemed to crash this after-party or that after-party- I cooked my first short ribs ever. They were awesome! I couldn’t believe I actually pulled that off. After roasting them slightly, you just let them sit in a a couple of cups of water or red wine and let them simmer slowly- like for an hour and a half.
The leftovers lasted right until Monday night when I finally got to You Tube and watched Obama and Leno tell their jokes. They were alright. But nowhere near as succulent as those short ribs.
It’s only mid-week but already I have run into a few headlines and stories on the World Wide Web that have caught my attention and need to be adorned with snarky commentary.
Politics & Media
This headline was interesting:
Can Michael Steele Survive the RNC Bondage Club Scandal?
It’s one thing to affix “gate” onto all scandals. It’s something else altogether to have the words “Bondage Club” affixed to your scandal. The answer to this headline, it seems to me, is: No. Nobody survives something called a Bondage Club Scandal. But we’ll know he’s really done when the media start referring to it as Bondage-gate.
Here’s a Matt Drudge headline that raised an eyebrow:
High earners hit as 50% tax rate goes into effect…
It’s right above another Drudge headline that reads:
Dem trouble in Spring Special Elections…
Wow, I’m thinking to myself. Damn Democrats- raising taxes to 50% in a recession, how tone deaf can you get? Except when you link to the tax rate story, you find they’re raising taxes on rich people in ENGLAND. That Matt Drudge is such a trickster!
Spirit Becomes First U.S. Airline to Charge Fee for CARRY-ON Bag
What is it with airlines? They now charge for stowed luggage, pillows, blankets- and now carry-ons? When will it end? To save on fuel during take-offs, will they cut holes beneath passenger’s feet, so we can all provide a good, running Flintstone start? Or better yet- this Flintstones aviation concept:
Women Arrested For Trying To Take DEAD Relative On Plane
This occurred in Europe. The ladies had the 90-year old dead guy in a wheel chair with sun glasses on. I believe they may have been inspired by Weekend at Bernie’s. Apparently it’s expensive and involves a lot of paperwork to send a body from one country to another, so this was a cost-saving exercise. They bought the guy a ticket and everything so I can’t imagine what the airline was angry about.
Celebrities I Didn’t Know Were Celebrities
Heidi Montag’s Plastic Surgery Prevents Her From Hugging, Jogging
I have no idea who this Heidi Montag woman is. But I can imagine this plastic surgery situation must have come as a real blow to her hopes for qualifying in the new Hugging-Jogging competition at the 2012 Olympic games in London.
Mmmm: Lionel Messi Sculpture Made Entirely Of Chocolate
I had no idea who this Lionel Messi guy was. Turns out he’s the latest, best soccer player in the world. The point is that he has set a new standard for celebrities. It will no longer be enough to release grainy-looking sex tapes or have former Spice Girls as girlfriends. You will now have to be memorialized in cocoa and sugar. Here’s the chocolate version of Mr. Messi:
Doesn’t his left hand look huge?