Monday, May 16, 2011

Music Monday: Duran Duran - Notorious

It would seem we are about to enter another election season - do we really ever get out of that cycle - and I have been thinking about what it means to be known, to be a household name, to be celebrated, to be a celebrity, to be a manageable commodity. Is the flip side then, notorious - the unmanageable celebrity?

About 10 years ago, I saw Walter Cronkite speak at the Franklin Park Conservatory. It was before the fundraiser masquerade ball. There was something about that generation of journalists. I think now, we haven't many solid journalists among us. We have TV personalities. We have pundits, we have news readers, who are reading from scripts written by people we do not know, I think the true investigative, independent journalist went the way of the dinosaurs.

I don't watch the news, something my grandparents did regularly. My family does not watch the Nightly News. In fact, other than a quick glance at the NY Times or whatever paper H brings home from his travels, I don't read the news either. I have decided if it is important, it will hit my Twitter feed (and no I do not follow any news outlets on my Twitter feed - they tweet entirely too much bullshit, so I rely on my tweeps to retweet the important bits.)

What happened to fair and balanced. It isn't on any network that I have seen. We might well have both sides represented, but it is a circus, not news. The most fair and balanced "news" I have seen is the series Lisa Ling does for Oprah's network. She really digs in and asks the hard questions of both sides. She isn't afraid of tough topics.

I am not sure where I heard it or read it, but someone was accusing someone of trying to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, um, we could only hope. Investigative journalism is a dead entity. We have 24 hour a day information over saturation. Leaks aren't rare, they are staged regularly, they are managed. PR firms have a formula for building buzz. An investigation is hard work, expensive and frankly takes too much time, when the clock is delineated by sound bits.

I wonder, is it even possible to be notorious any more?



[noh-tawr-ee-uhs, -tohr-, nuh-] Show IPA
widely and unfavorably known: a notorious gambler.
2. publicly or generally known, as for a particular trait: a newspaper that is notorious for its sensationalism

The line between celebrity and notorious these days is rather blurry. We not only want to build people up and turn them into celebrity, on the other hand, we relish tearing them down and destroying every illusion we have created. The public appetite for sensationalism and the airing of dirty laundry is unending.

I mean could Zorro even exist today. Robin Hood? Superman and Spiderman? These characters banked on mystery and being able to manage a persona.

Notoriety it seems to me is grounded in part, in some sort of mystery. There is some sort of unknown, even being notorious - it is generally for one set of traits. A notorious gambler is known for his or her card playing skills, defiance of chance, skill at games.

On the show Nikita, she is a bad ass, she is notorious, as a persona, we have no idea how she takes her coffee and this is something her enemies would love to know I am sure - but it is to her advantage to remain notorious yet unknown.

The misanthrope in me, thinks there is real value in this concept. Being notorious is, I think, in someways preferable to today's penchant for putting it all out there and yet I am an advocate for transparency.

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