Monday, November 21, 2011

The Original Media Clowns

I've always wondered why some scandalous politicians and celebrities of today are easy fodder for the media, specifically entertainment, to cover. If you're wondering who I might be referring to, it's easy to point out numerous cheating politicians like Larry Craig, Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner and colorful celebrities like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan. I would characterize these omnipresent personalities as today's media clowns. By my definition, media clowns, represent eccentric characters that emerge into the news through the odd or deplorable things they do. Once established in the media, the quickly learn how to play up to the camera, essentially using their own air time to benefit financially and always push their own agendas. In other words, these are deprived, desperate and attention-seeking people. It is not enough that Lady Gaga out shines everyone at one of the million televised award shows by dressing up like Madonna, so she shows up in a suit of literal raw meat the next time around. Likewise, it is also not enough that Anthony Weiner, husband of one of Obama's cabinet members, to be accused by some woman of sending her pictures of his wiener. No, he has to go on a media crusade to save his name while more naked pictures of him emerge.

With all this in mind, I present to you what I think helped pave the way for attention-grubbing celebrities or the inexplicable willingness for media outlets to frequently gravitate around these people: the Yippies. The Yippies (Youth International Party) were a counter-culture group of people that first emerged during the Vietnam War and the Anti-War Protest Movement of the 1960s. If you're wondering, the Yippes adapted their name from the Hippies and was the inspiration for the naming of the Yuppies in the 1980s. Unlike, the Occupy_______ protesters of today, the Yippies had two leaders that would become a media joke: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Their sole mission as an organization was to make a mockery of the media, protest the status quo and materialism of the country and symbolically elect a pig for president in 1968. Abbie, Jerry and the rest of the Yippies' pranks and jokes begin innocently enough like when they managed to get a tour of the New York Stock Exchange building where they threw hundreds of fake and real bills off the balcony above the stock room. They watched with glee as the traders down below scrambled to scoop up as much money as they could. They also both participated in a group effort at the Pentagon where they tried to levitate the building. For these acts, they were subpoenaed by the House of Un-American Activities Committee and showed up to court wearing Santa Claus, Viet Cong or Uncle Sam costumes. But, their coup de grace came when their effort to stage protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention was thwarted by the city of Chicago and the police, leading, in part, to the rioting that overshadowed the entire DNC event that year. An entire cross-section of the New Left including Hoffman and Rubin were tried with conspiracy to riot.

The conspiracy charges would be later dropped and both men would soon fade out of the media's attention as protesting the war was becoming more and more irrelevant. As cyclical has the four seasons, the media's job is finding the next attention-seeking clown who is too moon struck with promises of fame and wealth, albeit brief, to realize the fact they they're being shamelessly exploited on a national scale. Octomom, anyone? Who will be the media's next big victim? Just give it a few weeks!

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