George Zimmerman and reality TV

It’s entirely likely that, if George Zimmerman and Travon Martin had tangled 25 years ago, none of us outside of family, the neighborhood and the police on the scene would have ever heard about it, much less cared.  It’s not that taking a life isn’t a big deal.  But, with hundreds of killings happening every day, this story of two anonymous people would never have made it off the back page of the local rag.

But, this is not 25 years ago.  This is the age of reality TV.  Reality TV came of age with the OJ Simpson trial.  It is the direct spawn of the proliferation of cable TV.  Before cable, the majority of programming talent was concentrated in the few networks.  Consequently, it was possible to crank out consistently entertaining dramas without having to resort to tabloid journalism.  But, as the cable channel count continues to climb and the Youtube syndrome is fueled by ever cheaper and better video devices,  quality dramas have been replaced by tawdry tabloid filler.

Poor Rodney King.  Poor policeman who subdued Rodney King, Poor OJ.  And now, poor George Zimmerman.  Regardless of whether or not you are guilty, you have been tried in the new court of public opinion.  Your lives as you knew them are over.  Might as well get a new identity and a new address.  You are marked men.  On the other hand, hooray for anyone with a political career who gets into the cross hairs.  At best, you are now in the running for a juicy Washington appointment.  At worst, you will probably have a book deal in the offing, and maybe several gratuitous appearances on syndicated talk shows.

In the same vein, hooray for all the dysfunctional people of the world, the Snookys and Situations biggest losers and Idol contestants and tribal survivers who are plucked from obscurity and thrust into their fifteen minutes or more of fame.  Today you are on top of the world.  In the past, most rational people would have avoided such tabloid exposure like the plague.  But, as Donald Trump once said, there is no such thing as bad exposure.  Besides, now that Americans have grown up in a culture where watching a pawn broker swindle naive customers is high drama to be rivaled only by watching two-bit hucksters fight over the contents of abandoned storage units, there isn’t much you can really let be known about yourself that will hurt your reputation.

Why does cable TV offer 75 channels?  Because, then, you have the illusion of value.  But quantity does not beget quality.  To most people,  one bucket of excrement does not become more enticing when it becomes 75 buckets of excrement, unless you have nothing better to do with you day than watch flies collecting.  Of course, if 75 channels ain’t enough for ya, you can always order the “premium” 200 channels, or 500 if you have dish.

Sorry, George, you are today’s cause celebre.   You have been raised up for a reason.  The powers that be need a reason to focus attention on the long dead horses of racism and gun rights.  (Not saying there isn’t racism, but it mostly exists in the ossified minds of journalists and the public duped enough to believe them.  It’s not nearly as big of an issue as the fascism that keeps trying to foment it.)  But, their case is quite week this time.  After all, even though you were classified by your non-racist assailant as an “a** cracker”, you are actually, to the shock of most, a member of another protected minority, and not a member of the cracking majority.  Hopefully for you your stardom will quickly fade and you can get back to a “normal” life, –unless you plan to write a book.  The iron is hot now, but only until the administration needs a new kind of distraction.  Then you will be consigned to obscurity, like countless deep sea crabbers and British infomercial hawkers before you.


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