Ed Driscoll

When Scandals Collide In The YouTube Culture

Brent Bozell makes an interesting observation about the timing of Michael Richards’ meltdown that I hadn’t caught:

On the very day that Fox announced it was withdrawing both the O.J. book and the TV show, news emerged that another Hollywood has-been, comedian Michael Richards, went on a screaming frenzy at the Laugh Factory, using the N-word against two black men heckling from the audience.

It’s also worth noting that Richards (just last week, though it seems like it was ages ago, doesn’t it?), and now this week, Danny DeVito, were both caught by something I dubbed the Internet Immortality Thesis at the start of the month.

(Which seems like a lifetime ago, after the election, Thanksgiving, OJ, Richards, DeVito, the new Bond movie that was actually pretty good for a change…wow, what a long strange month it’s been!)

At dinner tonight, I overhead the couple at the table next to ours discussing Danny DeVito’s drunken appearance on The View, with the husband telling his wife, “Hey, just download it off YouTube–that’s where I saw it”. In the past, a celebrity could drink himself blotto in Johnny Carson’s green room, stumble through an appearance, and be pretty much assured that unless he really said something divisive, it was on the air and done. (This really worked if you were a liberal politician and said something idiotic, drunk or sober.) And even in the era of VCRs, so what if a handful of people taped it?

Today, YouTube and the Blogosphere have changed all that, and in an era of demassified individual publishing, the safety net that the liberal mass media provided its favorite sons no longer exists. That doesn’t mean that entertainers such as Richards and DeVito won’t still make fools of themselves from time to time–that’s pretty much the main role that celebrities play in today’s culture these days. But it should make them pause for thought.

Just ask Senator Kerry–and former Senator Allen.

Update: Related thoughts from Carol Platt Liebau; Hugh Hewitt observes that the Boston Globe is still protecting Kerry, after all these years.