You’re probably already aware of this, but knowing or seeing someone famous makes you 23.5 percent more attractive, 79.8 percent more interesting, and 100 percent more likely to wind up with your mug in the local news. Which is why I’m coming forward to announce what most of you have probably already suspected: Batman is my third cousin seven times removed on my dog, Sugar Bean’s side.
Growing up, people couldn’t tell us apart, which my parents thought was weird since I weighed about 60 pounds more than Bats and had no muscle tone, whereas he—well, you’ve seen the suit. I think people were responding to the similarities in our energy flows. And despite the fact that he’s a wealthy superhero who fights sociopaths for funsies and I’m a hairless curmudgeon who sets Guinness World Records for restraining orders, I’d like to think that deep down we’re pretty much the same.
For example, Bats rescues damsels in distress. I work for the media, which helps create the stereotype of women as infantilized helpless ninnies perpetually in need of rescuing. Take an article published on 3Dprint.com last October: “Man Helps Save Wife’s Life with 3D Printing.” Or an article printed on Make in January: “Man Saves Wife’s Sight by 3D Printing Her Tumor.”
Technically, neither title is correct. While the 3D model Michael Balzer printed of his wife’s skull was helpful to physicians, no one’s convinced that Balzer saved his wife’s eyesight or life. His wife, the distressed damsel in question, does have a name, although 3Dprint.com never saw fit to mention it, or even mention her, beyond referring to her as “one woman” or Michael’s wife. Make was sufficiently progressive to mention her name: Shavaun Scott. But the narrative is much the same. Hero husband saves hapless uterus transport vehicle.
Now, I, personally, happen to be a fan of the damsel in distress/macho superhero dynamic. It’s the reason I always have supercharged superhero music playing in my head when I’m napping at work or licking the top of the bar for spilled beer.
Maybe if Shavaun Scott had XY chromosomes instead of stupid, weepy XX chromosomes, someone would have been interested in talking with her about the tumor in her head. Possibly, said person would then have discovered that Shavaun, rather than Michael, was the one who did most of the medical research about the tumor. Of course, such a discovery would have made it difficult to utterly ignore her in an article ostensibly written about a lump in her head. But hey, there’s a reason comic books are titled after the spandex-clad Adonis superhero rather than the hot chicks they catch falling out of the sky.
Another thing Bats and I have in common? Despite the immense social pressure to do so, neither of us has ever leaked a sex tape. Also, our names don’t start with a “K.”
Last week when the Kardashians came to town to film We’re So Much Richer than the Rest of You Chumps and Now We’re Famous Because We’re Rich and One of Our Daughters is Famous for Releasing a Sex Tape and Having a Big Ass or whatever the hell their show is called, the local media responded like a pack of monkeys at the zoo fighting over a rotten banana. Except that even a rotten banana serves a purpose in life, whereas the Kardashians are probably the greatest proof against the theory of evolution.
The Mustang News was all over the story with multiple articles including a lengthy, fawning account of stalking the family across the Oceano dunes and into Ventana Grill. The phrase “most fulfilling 30 minutes of my life” will probably be the one authorities find carved into the wall when they find my bloated corpse. It’s not so much the fact that a starry-eyed 18-year-old who grew up on a steady diet of smartphones and reality television legitimately fails to recognize that there are far more important and fulfilling endeavors than chasing a pack of famous-for-being-famous celebrities across the county. Sadly, that’s to be expected. It’s the fact that a newspaper that’s supposed to be teaching these kids to make the tough journalistic calls opted to dedicate space to that. But it’s a college paper so I should probably cut them a little slack.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for KSBY, that bastion of stories about the antics of Central Coast pets and repeat winner of “Best News Source” in our very own annual Best Of issue. Allegedly—though I have never really seen any proof of this—the local TV news source is run by professionals. It’s true that this fact doesn’t guarantee that a surfing dog won’t be their biggest story of the year, but the theory goes that they should have some ideas, at least, about what makes a good news story. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, KSBY seems to have the same news sense as a starstruck college student.
To my very great surprise, the Tribune, which dedicated front pages to obsessing over the fact that Lady Gaga was filming at Hearst Castle, abstained from clambering aboard the tarted-out celebrity bandwagon.
I guess the final thing that Bats and I share in common is that maybe it’s not the hero/media you want. Think of all that space that could have been dedicated to very real issues. Think about all the other things I could have ranted about instead of having to engage in a petty takedown of my fellow local media. But it’s the media you deserve. Because the truth is that they’re feeding you this garbage because you demanded it. Those decisions weren’t made in a vacuum. And until and unless you demand something more substantive, the collective Kardashian’s asses are the best you can reasonably expect.
Shredder is a good old fashioned something. Call that something a snob at firstname.lastname@example.org.