March 9, 2011

Vices are Virtues. ~ Antoinette Armocida

Focusing on the Positive Instead of Everything Negative…

“Charlie Sheen is a genius” my friend said. Is he? I mean I get what my friend meant, Charlie was already the highest paid actor in a TV sitcom, and now he’s generating more press than his addictions did by just being irreverent. I can’t figure out why we are surprised. Didn’t anyone beside me wonder if he really was acting on Two and a Half Men? I think he played the part a bit too well.

Millions on Facebook are talking about whether they will follow Charlie on Twitter, essentially asking, “Hey are you riding the wave of Charlie’s current fifteen minutes of scandal?” Kind of like the feeling you get when you consider buying a copy of the National Enquirer, isn’t it?  I feel like a tennis ball, caught between the press exploiting tragic celebrity flaws and celebrities creating tragic flaws for press to exploit. They are playing a game with my emotions and I don’t like it. It bothers my conscience…what a thing to be united over. People in the Middle East are using the power of social networking to fight a war for freedom. We seem to be using it to exploit the freedom we already have.

In 1993-1994 the Mickey Mouse Club gave us Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Justin has managed to dodge scandal pretty well by just being who he is. He was able to allegedly take Britney’s virginity and break up with her and remain cool in our eyes. He’s gotten press by dating beautiful women and showcasing his talent when he wants to go above the radar. I guess he’s lucky to be a serial monogamist and not all that impressed with fame so he maintains perspective. Why can’t we have headlines and a twitter kingdom for that? They’d probably read something like, “Justin and Britney’s Puppy Love Ended – read their account of what they learned through their relationship.” “Justin realized he had strong feelings for Jessica Biel and since Cameron doesn’t see marriage in her future he has made a move to create the life he wants.” Would you read that? I would, and I wouldn’t feel as bad as when I read what was actually in the headlines.

Poor Britney has had her struggle with fame and self realization exploited to the point where it was like watching a televised crucifixion. In the end her daddy swooped in and saved her and no one cared because it worked. We lost interest. Britney and Lindsay Lohan (another Disney prodigy) feel like soul mates to me. I watched “Life-Size” in 2000 with my daughter and we both marveled at Lindsay’s talent and beauty, talked about her potential and how her talent will grow. Now when we see her in the headlines or on TV we shake our heads and shrug off the grief of what her life has become. So not only has she had to deal with her demons, but we’ve all had to deal with them as she and her demons have been publicized to no end.

But really who is guilty here? Celebrities? The press? Publicists? What is their rationale?? I would really like to know. Do they justify stretching or fabricating truth because of what being under the magnifying glass has done to our celebrities? Is it some kind of revenge against the public for our interest in scandals? Do they feel that because we genuinely are interested in what happens to their clients and news targets that we deserve to be misled and have our emotions dragged through sometimes true but sometimes false stories? Are they considering the culture they are perpetuating and what impact that’s had on our children? If we see breaking news headlines on MSN that Christina Aguilera, who has just endured divorcing the father of her only child, was arrested for being drunk in a car—what does that tell our youth? How much importance have we just given to scandal? How do we expect our kids to decide NOT to post rants about their soon to be ex-friends and forward text messages with unflattering or exploitative pictures when what you see on the news or online is a product of paid professional adults doing the same exact thing? Does it surprise anyone that bullying has taken on a whole new energy?? I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be human with celebrity in this country, especially as a young adult. They are always accountable for all they do; they are so on display that they are paying people to advise them how to act and who to see. Are their publicists screening who they date and what they choose to eat in a restaurant? All this energy so ruthlessly focused on scrutinizing artists, that’s what they are or intended to be, isn’t it?

Their art or their beauty is a virtue, and we, or someone, is turning it into a vice. It seems like we get some kind of deranged pleasure from seeing Kim Kardashian cry over knowing her butt crack and nipple outline was printed for the entire world to see. That’s just wrong to me—if she’s pretending she didn’t know that would happen and exploiting my sympathy, it is wrong. If the press did in fact assure her this naked photo would be done tastefully and then they did not do that, my carnal desire to gawk at a perfect body is being exploited, because they knew there would be added fuel to the scandal when she publically broke down over it. Is that what the press really wants to be? Emotion exploiters?

What if they used their skills to evoke what makes being human so great? I wonder if the choice to publish positive supportive stories about the artists we call celebrities vs. seeking scandals is like choosing a salad for lunch over fast food. When you make virtues a vice it’s like when a burger and fries satisfies your hunger– only when you feel like crap a little while later, or maybe when you have a heart attack a decade or so later, do you realize the better choice.

Of her 45 years here Antoinette Armocida has spent 20 of them Catholic, 16 Buddhist,  the last six or so practicing yoga and the past year diving deeply into yoga history and Tantrism.  Her religious beliefs have overlapped, the edges between spiritual paths have become blurred and her worldview is that of a true Global Spirit and Sensual Mystic.  She lives in the countryside of NJ and has recently become compelled to put the wanderings of her mind on paper.

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