New Year’s Eve is probably my least favorite holiday. I have had a relatively good track record on other trite and annoying holidays in terms of enjoying myself and/or not screwing things up. However, I have managed to have about eight bad New Year’s Eves in the last decade, from sleeping on an assistant coach’s couch in college because I had basketball practice the next day and the dorms were not open yet, to ruining a date a few years later because I passed out from overeating at a steak house, to getting dumped by a fiancee (actually a good New Year’s in hindsight, but you get the idea). In other words, the holiday has been bad luck for me. But thanks to my friend and fellow comic Nick Cobb I was getting a paid gig in New Jersey to perform at a New Year’s Eve show in Sommerset, New Jersey. If anything could break the curse of New Year’s Eve it would be comedy. And along similar lines of thinking, if anything can turn the country around it’s a Sara Palin presidency.
There is no need for a long post here. I got on stage and of the 200+ people I’d say I had the attention of 130 and the approval of about 95. The set was a B- performance and I got a D+ reaction from the crowd. But the Joe Wilson moment of the night came when Danny Rouhier, the emcee for the night asked the crowd after me if they were ready for their headliner, a woman in her mid or late fifties yelled, “Well, is he going to be better than the other guy (me) hahaha?” In other words an old, New Jersey, woman, three things that would generally disqualify her from judging my or most people’s comedy, had just delivered the final word on my 2009.
I have had some humbling moments in comedy, but this may have been the most humbling. So I watched the ball drop and said to myself, “Fu-k this year and fu-k this decade. I’m going to turn my fortunes around starting this New Year’s.” And then the first thing I heard after the ball drop was the DJ cue up “I Gotta Feelin” by the Black Eyed Peas and I had an inauspicious first thought for the decade: “Not this fu-king song again.”
Just as technology has exponentially increased the rate at which humans achieve scientific advances and breakthroughs (cell phones do not count), it appears that our society’s thirst for fame at all costs is increasing in a similar fashion, only faster.
Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the White House Crashers, are an especially shameful example of what otherwise is a fairly logical extrapolation from our culture. Somehow fame has become a goal in and of itself in America. I feel like fame used to be a by-product of the talented, the accomplished and the insane. But now a fourth group has muscled its way into this group – the average piece of sh*t.
And we are all accomplices in this culture. With the exception of one reality series, which I watched during the time period of 2007, during which much of my rational decision making processes were impaired temporarily, I think all of these shows are wretched. They feature trashy people catering to the trashiest impulses of viewers (basically it took 15 years for Jerry Springer guests to clean themselves up and become celebrities). Not satisfied with giving these people a platform on television, viewers bolster the bank accounts of these talentless fools by purchasing their “books” and other items they are able to market (for the record I don’t consider shows like American Idol “reality television” since they are just contests).
The White House Crashers have managed to put this process on steroids. They managed to disrespect the Office (and the man) of the President of the United States, in a way that I think is worse than Joe Wilson screaming “You lie” in Congress. All in a quest to get on a television show. There current fame is not a validation of hard work or talent, but a means to itself.
I have been making the point that in this age, which seems more self-absorbed and concerned with self enlightenment and self-importance, with ever decreasing importance of religion and other formerly potent forces that stressed things other than the self, we are entering a very dangerous era. We have things like blackberries and Facebook which present the illusion of more inter-connectedness and community, but deep down that is all a joke. We are now sinking quickly into an era where the self is king and being famous is its commandment.
My brother came up with a great scenario that could make me ok with what happened at the White House. Michaele Salahi hopes to be on The Real Housewives of D.C. (The Real Housewives series could have been just called Cu-ts, but Bravo did not want to disrespect cu-ts in America with such a poor portrayal). Well, Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff is the brother of Ari Emmanuel, the super agent who is also the basis for Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage. Here is how Ari Emmanuel’s phone call should have gone this weekend (in Piven-esque delivery) to the producer of the Housewives series:
“I am going to make this as clear for you and the trash you work with and employ. If this Ann Coulter looking skank and her pus-y whipped husband get within 1000 feet of any AIDS infested brothel you call a reality television show, you will no longer work in this town. You and all the skanks on your shows will be lucky to be hired to clean the lint out of Andy Dick’s taint if they are even mentioned on your entire so-called Network. Not only have you insulted me, but you have insulted my brother, the President and this country. Consider yourself warned and not just like that time I told you the condom broke. (Hang up) LLOYD!!”
In light of how the White House crashers got so close to President Obama, security implications are more than a little frightening. The last hit on a president was John Hinckley on President Reagan in 1981. He was motivated by some delusional intent to impress Jodie Foster. The White House Crashers (I even hate using a name they are probably hoping becomes a brand – have they trademarked it yet?) certainly did not attempt anything like that (which is only partially relevant), but how long before we get to the point where the next John Hinckley takes a shot at a President to get on Bravo or E!? Sadly, I don’t think it is far-fetched at all. Let’s just hope he’ll be allowed to Tweet from prison – wouldn’t want to miss all of their insights.