JFK Jr. necrophilia
After resisting the ten-day barrage of bourgeois necrophilia on the occasion of John John's unscheduled dive off Martha's Vineyard, I felt quite proud of myself having somehow evaded and avoided having had anything to say about the latest "tragedy" to befall America's "royalty."
And then today came TV Guide to my mailbox, breathlessly extolling, this struggling publisher, aging boy toy and scion of an alcoholic fortune as "heir to all the hopes and dreams his father inspired." And I felt my resolve to keep silent crumbling.
This remake of JFK's ascension into heaven was striking to me for how starkly it revealed to those of us on the inside of large bourgeois media operations the gap between the news executives and stars, and the big majority of those who labor in the nation's newsrooms, edit rooms, studios and web sites.
Never, not even at the height of the OJ madness or the Lewinsky farce, has such a clear and solid majority of the "regular" writers, editors, tape editors, producers, assignment editors, supervisors and even anchors, correspondents and interns been as starkly conscious of the fact that we are not "professionals" bringing to bear intellect and honesty to inform, enlighten and, yes, entertain, but are simply pieces in a machine that packages mendacious lies to an ever more distrustful public.
JFK Junior's death and the public reaction to it has been compared to that of another media celebrity, Diana. It's an instructive comparison, moreover, what you could hear in the 24-hour-a-day newsrooms that Saturday morning was groans as word filtered down that JFK the sequel was to get the full Diana treatment. Moans and groans because we all knew it was bullshit.
From the "fairy tale" marriage to the bulimia and divorce, Diana and Charles's mutual infidelities, to her identification with "good" causes, especially the anti land mines campaign, the story of Charles and especially Diana touched people. When she died even my then 7-year-old daughter knew about it, was full of questions about everything from land mines to why people divorce (having just been through the break up of her own parent's marriage) and the dangers of speeding.
People identified with her because, despite her wealth and beauty and stature, she was human, her human frailties and weaknesses and even her concern for AIDS patients and land mine victims betrayed a human sensibility, a sense of solidarity. The media had to a large extent created the Diana phenomenon, projected her personality, but did not create the tremendous emotional outpouring upon her death: it may have magnified and channeled it, but at bottom that was genuine, not fabricated. It was, for many people and especially for many women, like a death in the family.
When John John