Right up until Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol’s ex-boyfriend, decided to pose underwear clad in Playgirl, he was a credible voice in the Alaskan wilderness about all things Palin. The Playgirl article, that will be the credibility-killing straw.
Wait. No it won’t.
Levi Johnson braying at the moon wearing nothing but boots and a polar bear pelt wouldn’t impair this young stud’s street cred with liberal media organizations. He’s trashing their favorite woman to hate, Sarah Palin. Alinsky’s Rule #2 and all that. One snarky wag called Johnston the “sanest member of the family.” Until he’s discarded as yesterday’s news, anyway.
It’s no surprise that Vanity Fair, the least fair of glossy liberal publications, would give a nice splashy spread to useful idiot Levi Johnston. He made revelations, man. The Truth is about to be revealed by a guy who named his kid for his favorite hockey equipment company.
Levi Johnston says far more about the sorry state of modern media than he says about the Palin family. Levi Johnston says more about the American Idol culture than he says about the Palin marriage. Levi Johnston reminds all of us why many feel shame at weddings and family reunions. There’s one in every family.
First, the media. Vanity Fair knows one thing: Sarah Palin moves magazines. They wouldn’t deign to interview her and give her a glowing report a la Obama. But, oh, they do so want to stay in business. With ad revenue down the crapper, how to use her for their own ends? It is inspiring that they at least seem somewhat market-driven. They recognize that pesky capitalistic cycle — supply and demand. So, there’s a silver lining.
However, it’s pathetic to interview this guy and portray his musings as fact. Any possibility of corroborating one thing he says? I somehow doubt family members are going to talk given the treatment they’ve all been subjected to. Some feel a little sympathy, but even some sympathetic journalists can’t dismiss Johnston outright. In typical relativistic fashion, this is Sarah Palin’s fault, according to Cynthia Tucker:
But the larger share of blame for this very public dysfunctional family saga has to be borne by grandma, Sarah Palin. She’s the person who introduced a young Levi to national celebrity. She’s the one who invited him to share the stage at the Republican National Convention, to campaign with her and Bristol, to share the adoration of the ultra-conservative base.
So he’s old enough to help his girlfriend make a decision to abort. He’s old enough to have insights about the long-time marriage of a couple with five kids. He is not old enough to decide whether to be in the spotlight.
Got it. He’s responsible and credible except when he’s not.
If Levi Johnston was forced into the limelight, then he’s done nothing to flee it once it found him. He’s Ricky Hollywood, baby. He’s looking for book deals for tell-alls. He’s not opposed to posing for Playgirl. He’s a celebrity.
There used to be a time in America when no-talents had a shred of self-awareness. They would stay in the home community and work on someone’s fishing boat and play hockey on weekends. Not these days. Honest work gives way to a bodyguard and agents and Hollywood premieres.
American youths are immersed in the fame-seeking culture. Children are rewarded for participation rather than achievement. They grow up singing karaoke and making stage characters on “Rock Band” for Wii. Is it any wonder that when a young man such as Levi Johnston gets on an actual stage, he thinks he’s a rock star?
The purpose isn’t to absolve him of his fame-whoring ways, just to explain them. President Barack Obama enjoys a cult of personality that takes advantage of and feeds into the fame frenzy.
The problem with fame is that it is fickle. Heroes and villains are cast. These one-dimensional characters are bound to be revealed as superficial. So Sarah Palin is made into a caricature of Mother Evil while Barack Obama is a caricature of Captain Urbane America. It’s nonsense. Barack Obama’s poll numbers are dropping like Madonna on the Top 40 chart because he is perceived as a “famous person” first and the president second. Sarah Palin has the same kind of movie star charisma, as do her children and even, it seems, their boyfriends. But what is artificially pushed down or propped up tends to boomerang. Levi Johnston, like the president, is a media creation who seems to believe his own hype. He’s just hoping to capture his bit of glory along the way. One wonders if the president isn’t doing the same.
But somehow I have a feeling that even the most ardent Palin-haters are not going to be able to work up much sympathy for Levi’s complaint that Sarah made him cut off his mullet before his appearance at the Republican convention. Or that when she moved to Juneau after being elected governor, she tried to take Bristol with her in order to break them up.
In fact, trying to separate her daughter from Johnston could be filed away in the rather slim folder titled “Sarah Palin’s Good Ideas.”
Yep, she just can’t help herself. Levi Johnston might be the caddish ex-boyfriend of Sarah Palin’s daughter, but Sarah Palin is still, to Collins, a moron. Collins still must serve the narrative, after all — all the while cashing in on Sarah Palin’s name to sell papers.
The media and the culture it reflects, influences, and creates are off to another Jerry Springer-like family misfortune. Every family has a Levi Johnston. Fair-minded people recognize this and haven’t held the kid against the Palins. What can they do? But the press can use him to serve their political purposes, and so they will. And the bonus when a story is about Sarah Palin is that they’ll get rich doing it.