Monday, March 27, 2006

In Reality, Who’s The Fool?

Leonard Pitts doesn’t want to hear about any more stupid celebrities.

Lionel Richie always seemed like one of the good guys. I interviewed him many times in the 1970s and found him friendly, funny, gregarious, a great guy to be around.

So it has always surprised me that his daughter is such an idiot.

Maybe I shouldn’t care. There’s a lot going on in the world right now — war, famine, bigotry, war — and one could argue that these things matter a lot more than the idiocy of Richie’s 25-year-old adopted daughter.

But Nicole Richie’s disturbing stunt two weeks ago in Castaic, Calif. has stayed with me ever since I read about it. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Richie, trailing a camera crew, was pushing a baby carriage down the street for the latest mutation of her TV show, The Simple Life, when she happened upon an 11-year-old boy playing basketball.

She asked him if he thought she looked like a “MILF.” The boy replied, “I don’t know what that means.” Whereupon she decoded the acronym: “It means a mother I’d like to f—.”

According to the boy’s father, the crew asked him to sign a release so the footage could be used. He refused and instead called the production company to complain. We can imagine with what seriousness his protest is being considered.

Chris Celhomme, the show’s flack, told the paper, “The girls are taking turns on their own as wife and mother in their own house. The premise is fish out of water. These rich celebutantes in the environment they know little about. That’s the comedy.”

Yeah. Right. Ha ha ha.

What bothers me here is not Nicole Richie. Her evident lack of socialization is a personal problem. No, what bothers me is that we ever decided crudity such as this was entertainment.


Yes, I get the joke. At least, I understand where the joke is meant to be. These Jerry Springer rejects — Nicole, Paris, Brigitte, Anna Nicole, the Osbourne kids — make us feel superior. They are so pathetic, so self-centered, so unacquainted with anything most of us would recognize as real life, that it seems like a hoot to turn them loose in the world and watch them blunder about so that we can laugh at them.

In return for which, we give them money, we give them careers, we make them matter.

Leaves me wondering who should be laughing at whom.