Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Me vs The Juice

No, not steroids, not O.J. Simpson and not the current that flows through an electric chair (2000 volts of crispy justice!). "The Juice*" is the name of the celebrity news column that appears in TBT* (Tampa Bay Times; they enjoy placing asterisks at the end of names of things for some reason), the free daily digest version of the St. Pete Times and in the form of a blog on the St. Pete Times web site. It's written by Joshua Gillin and on March 9th, he posted this headline:
"The Juice* declares a week free from Charlie Sheen after he bashes Jon Cryer"
Here are some highlights from what followed:
"Okay, folks, we all have to admit the time is long past due: The Juice* is declaring a one-week holiday on Charlie Sheen news (barring a trip to the hospital, jail or the morgue, of course)."

"You see, since he called costar Jon Cryer a "turncoat" and a "troll" in an E! News interview Tuesday, the downward spiral is speeding up too fast to catch up..."

"Throw in the discussions that Sheen may have already blown through most of his cash despite making $1.8 million per episode, and rock bottom seems to be coming up fast. The Juice* declared a week free of Britney Spears prior to her ending up in a mental hospital, so that's what I'm going to do here. I truly wish Sheen and his family well, but the best thing we all can do for this traffic accident now is to look away, because we're only making the driver step on the gas otherwise."

I thought this was a rather pompous, and frankly, dishonest pronouncement, considering how much content published in The Juice* is devoted to the exploits of celebrity behavior like this (delivered with heaping spoonfuls of snarky commentary, of course). The Juice* gets a lot of material out of celebrities pressing the accelerator to the floor in their pursuits of "rock bottom". Believing that Mr. Gillin wishes Sheen and his family well while gently coaxing readers to "look away" is kind of like believing Wile E. Coyote is  concerned that the Roadrunner might have lost a step on his 40-yard-dash times. So I went to Twitter and snarked up a pronouncement of my own:
"Please join me in sarcastic applause for the selectively high-minded @tbtjuice & their decision to ignore @charliesheen #clap #clap #clap"

This resulted in a reply from Mr. Gillin and the following exchange:

GILLIN: "Can't win for losing, as Papa Juice* used to say."
ME: "I just think it's disingenuous to act like you're not chronicling this human trainwreck for moral reasons when it's what you do"
GILLIN: "Sorry, but it is a moral reason. Don't you think media outlets should be weaning off @charliesheen as well? Can't win, huh?"
ME: "I do and you'll have more credibility regarding your moral decisions if you apply that criteria to the next @charliesheen..."

ME: "...and we all know there will be a next one, don't we?"

ME: "Or if that standard had been applied previously (Spears, Winehouse, Lohan, Gibson etc)"
GILLIN:: "As I noted, I did it for Britney Spears, too. Hold me to it, if you'd like."
ME: "Okay, so maybe it's me and I just don't understand what the standard is. Winehouse = hilarious. Spears = tragic?"

ME: "Or is it a shelf life? Spears, Sheen situations funny for x number of days, then turn into a matter of concern?"

ME: "Because it just seems arbitrary to me and that undercuts any morality behind it, IMHO"

GILLIN: "Don't write about Winehouse anymore, either"
ME: "Okay, fair enough."

If this sounds at all like I'm offended by what Joshua Gillin writes or taking a stance that what he does is somehow "wrong" and I think he and other journalists who report on this kind of thing should stop for the sake of, I don't know, making us all better people or something, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I have no problem whatsoever with what Mr. Gillin does. I hope he makes a ton of money doing it. In fact, he probably deserves a raise. It's not my thing but obviously, there is a huge appetite for this stuff and he's doing nothing wrong in making a living by feeding that appetite. It's not my job (or his) to be setting standards for anybody else's morality.Thank goodness, because I wouldn't even want that burden and plus I'd be terrible at it. It's just that I doubt the face value, if not the sincerity of the message he's sending here and I think that misrepresents the true nature of what it is he does. Not to say that he's a liar, but when I read "The Juice* declares a week free from Charlie Sheen after he bashes Jon Cryer" what I hear in my head is "The Juice* is bored with Charlie Sheen, or is at least worried that readers might be, and is looking forward to The Next Big Terrible Thing". And if that's the case (which I truly believe it is, based on past history/established patterns), he shouldn't act like it's not. That, I do find offensive. Ultimately, we are all who we are and we do what we do. And while in cases that don't involve actually harming others, we shouldn't be punished or forced to apologize for it, we also shouldn't be allowed to be full of shit about it either.
But who knows? I could be wrong. We'll see.
  (Read it in it's entirety here, if you like)


Marissa said...

Maybe Gilla would have appeared more genuine if he hadn't announced his intent, but rather simply stopped reporting on Sheen. Then, filled readers in if enough inquiries came through.

Why, it's Clark! said...

That's a good point. And in a way, it's almost like saying "Do NOT think about elephants for the next 3 minutes...are you thinking about elephants? I told you not to! Well, I did my best."