I'm sure by now everyone is aware of the situation on the show The View. If not, let me enlighten. In April, Star Jones was told that her contract would not be renewed in the fall because her 'Q Rating' was in line with Bush's approval rating. Apparently, the American public didn't like the thin married Star Jones as much as the fat unattached one. A few weeks ago, there was a surprise announcement that Meredith Vierira's role would be filled with Rosie O'Donnell (who had criticized Ms. Jones in the media for not stating that she had gastro by-pass surgery). There were other issues, but you generally get the idea that the ladies of The View were not happy campers.
However, sparks flew after Star Jones announced (two days earlier than planned) she was leaving The View. During that broadcast Barbara Walters lead the in show audience to a standing O for her departing co-worker. Afterwards, Babs proclaimed she was blind-sided to find that Ms. Jones had been proactive in giving an exclusive interview to People magazine stating that she felt she had been fired. The next day Ms. Walters explained to the audience that Star would not be returning and indicated that Star had betrayed her and thus decided to leave the show with her dignity in question. This, coming from a woman who once asked Katherine Hepburn about what tree she would be assuming she could be one.
I don't like Barbara Walters for several reasons. I think she is someone who desperately does not want to come off bitchy when in fact she is a bitch (by the way, I am perfectly willing to refer to a man as a bitch as well). I think that she has handled herself inappropriately when it comes to certain situations without admitting that she has done so; the Star Jones incident is an example. Most important, I dislike her because at one point in her career she was a journalist, now she is not (although she still thinks of herself as one).
I believe Walters is one of the television personalities responsible for making movie stars into political figures and political figures into movie stars. She and others of her ilk have blurred the lines between Washington and Hollywood without once thinking the two shouldn't mix. Currently, viewers and citizens alike are left with hard news reported with the passivity of a movie premiere and entertainment news treated as if our First Amendment rights depend on knowing just how Jennifer Aniston feels about her divorce. To further add insult, there is a school of journalism that covers certain trials (post O. J.) as if they were national entertainment. As if someone's daughter was murdered in order for all of us to speculate if her husband did it. Low Q worthy victims need not apply.
Barbara Walters is angry over the fact that Star Jones told everyone she was fired after…she was fired. In Walters's announcement she told the audience she wanted to pretend that Star was leaving of her own volition, she wanted Jones to pretend this as well, and in a larger context for the audience to pretend that they believed everything was hunky dory on the show when everyone (audience included) knew differently. The larger issue I spoke of in the title is this - the mass induced willingness to pretend that something is fine when all evidence shows that it isn't.
Take the Walters-Jones example and replace the ladies' names with our current administration then apply the example to global warming. Take it and apply it to the Iraqi War. Take it and apply it to the infrastructure of the United States and the debasement of our civil rights. You could play an endless parlor game and the results are the same. We, the citizens of this country and the world at large, are aware that things aren't hunky dory, yet we turn away. We buy into the idea that things are fine because we are told they are fine. If we don't believe they are fine and voice our concerns then we are labeled 'liberal' or 'to the left of everyone else.' Everyone else is defined as those who buy into the idea that those silly scientist don't know what they speak of and those ACLUers only care about freeing Communist pederasts to run crazy in the cul-de-sacs of suburbia so they can terrorist attack our beloved discount stores. The end result is that we who question are labeled nonconformist and are ignored politically.
I wonder where all this pretend started. I'm sure it is as old as the concept of government itself, but the pretend that is expected now is different from the one expected from the Roman Senate when Caligula married his sister and made his horse a Senator. The pretend now is mass produced, mass marketed, and mass media delivered. We are all expected to salute and honor the flag, but dare we question the principles Old Glory stands for and then others dare us to call ourselves loyal Americans. All because we dare not to pretend.
I pass along these thoughts because sometimes I want to pretend everything is okay because it is such a burden to do otherwise. I don't like to think about global warming because the image of starving polar bears take the romance out of the Artic Circle. I don't like to think about Iraq because extracting ourselves from it seems as complicated as solving a rubrics cube made up of a thousand moveable squares. I don't like to think about our diminishing Civil Rights because I've never yelled fire in a crowded theater nor have I owned a gun. Against all logic and worthy fact, I want to pretend that things that matter don't…and Star Jones has a rosy future ahead of her.