No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hurrah for Mr. Murdoch

Some people consider these multi-billionaire media moguls to be the moral equivalent of pimps, earning a lucrative living of the degradation of others. Not me though. Lately, I've even come to admire a few of these guys. First, the CEO of Morgan Creek publicly tells off eternally stoned, habitually late starlet Lindsay Lohan. Then, Sumner Redstone essentially fires Tom Cruise for crossing the line from slightly icky leading man to raving-mad cult promoter and Joey-Potter imprisoner. Now, Rupert Murdoch pulls the plug on what may have been the most crass, tasteless TV spectacle ever, or at least since that Michael Jackson special.

Recently, it was announced that Harper Collins imprint ReganBooks would publish a book by O.J. Simpson entitled "If I Did it," which would detail how the murders of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman might have gone down... were Simpson the killer (which, of course, he continues to deny that he was). A TV special would follow on Fox. Happily, the network often decried for plumbing the depth of humanity (with shows like Cops, When Animals Attack and Married with Children) felt this was too low even for them. The book and special have been shelved by Murdoch et al in the face of increasing public pressure.

The whole idea of the book, which publisher Judith Regan defends as finally eliciting a "confession" from a man who got away with murder, was just every kind of wrong. To pay Simpson for his story, to enrich a man we all know is guilty of murder, to sell books over the dead mother of that man's children - well, tasteless doesn't even come close.

The Simpson case has been an American obsession. It had everything - love, race, celebrity and lots of blood. Simpson was one the greatest running backs of all time - a Heisman trophy winner who emerged from his playing days as an amiable pitchman for rental cars. He'd basically been a star since he was a kid, and had developed the overweening sense of entitlement that celebrity so often entails. That Simpson thought he could get away with murder should surprise no one. That he did should shame us all.

Fox had originally bet that morbid curiousity and lingering fascination with case would mean big ratings and huge book sales. Now, we'll never know. But thank you to Rupert Murdoch for finally acknowledging that some things - like, a lingering shred of dignity and decency, perhaps - should matter more than profits.


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