This is the story of Glitter Girl (Alexis Cohen), Shepard Smith and John Brown.
Sometimes an examination of a simple, commonplace event can reveal a great deal about larger matters. That's what this post is all about. It's the story of a little reflection upon some seemingly innocent television viewing revealed layer upon layer of somewhat sickening crap. Crap about television. Crap about news. Crap about me. Crap about others. Etc.
It starts with American Idol. I'm not an Idol-lovin' maniac, but we do occasionally watch the program at the John Brown estate. My tiny tot likes the singers (and shows a surprisingly strong ability to separate the good from the grotesque). My wife enjoys watching the kids do their best and appreciates the ones who demonstrate a modicum of talent. I take some weird sadistic satisfaction in watching delusional freaks get their come-uppance. I also have a potentially mistaken belief that Paula Abdul is somewhat hot. I'm not proud of what draws me to American Idol, but I thought a wee bit of honesty was in order.
In any case, they had one of the usual delusional freaks on the first show of the season--a gal named Alexis Cohen who hails from Allentown, PA, and loves to smear glitter all over her face (and perhaps the rest of her body, who knows?). Alexis, or Glitter Girl as she's becoming known, performed a more-than-iffy version of the Jefferson Airplane tune "Somebody to Love".
It was one of those creepy moments of discomfort. Sure, she looked weird, but so did Boy George and some of us didn't recoil in terror at "Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me", so it wasn't just the Glitter Girl look. She didn't really sing THAT badly, either. Yes, she sucked. She didn't, however, suck nearly as much as most of the people in the world. What was it about her that made me feel icky?
She sort of looks like a glittered up version of my high school senior prom date. Sorry, Stacy, but it's true. That might be part of it. Maybe she made me feel uneasy because you could almost sense that she really did have some belief that she didn't suck and that she was going to be shocked to find out how bad she really was. Maybe it was something else altogether.
All in all, the panel went easy on her. They basically dismissed her as a potential bar singer with a retro band. Personally, I think that was a kind rebuke of her effort. Nonetheless, she freaked out.
There were birds a-flippin' and censorship beeps filling the air. There was even a weird "kiss my skinny ass" thing and the wacky on-the-spot decision to try "actressing" instead.
It was compelling television in a very low-brow kind of way. But what the hell, I was slumming with American Idol so I enjoyed it within that context. We intellectual elites with our pretentious appreciation for foreign cinema and frequent purchases of little-known spices at Whole Foods occasionally need a little Idol and a microwave re-heated chunk of tater tot casserole.
I didn't really think about Alexis Cohen that evening. I didn't dream of her and she didn't cross my mind the next day, either. Then, in the afternoon, I made a horrible decision. You can never tell when a tiny decision will cause things to unravel, forcing you to write a very long blog post about the Glitter Girl. Had I known what was about to happen, I wouldn't have touched the remote control.
But I did touch it. I had a masochistic need to watch a bit of Fox News. Perhaps I was subconsciously punishing myself for my sadistic satisfaction with American Idol, you might think. A good argument, Freud, but not quite true. My story? I wanted to recline on my sofa, smoking cigarettes and drinking a beverage so loaded with caffeine and sugar that Mitt Romney would fly into rage at the very sight of it while watching Dick Morris say something icky, gross, shallow, wrong and demented. It was an experiment. I was trying to have a heart attack.
Alas, no Dick Morris. Instead, I was left with Shepard Smith and whatever bullshit show the Foxsters have built around him. He basically pretends to be a news guy while interviewing a series of guests. Most of those guests are blond, interchangeable "political analysts" who have a special gift for jabbering without saying anything. They look just hard enough to have a bit of credibility, but one soon finds the mind wandering to what they'd look like naked or engaging in some form of sodomy that would force Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee to go on a rampage.
They are the embodiment of a wonk's wet dream and they are the bread and butter of Fox News. Unless they can get Dick Morris or some other freaky-deaky shit-spewer with a knack for obfuscating things to show up
Well, after Shep Smith finished with a few of the gals they mentioned an upcoming appearance by Alexis Cohen. Glitter Girl was in studio for a few minutes with Ol' Shep. How fucking delicious is that? I followed the heavily-eyelinered Smith's recommendation. I stayed tune. After watching ads for retirement communities in Florida and various medications I hope to never need, Smith returned.
They teased me with Glitter Girl again. I suffered through additional segments of half-news, non-news, and what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here in hopes of catching the interview. I looked at the clock. Time was an issue. I knew that Cavuto's Giant Melon would soon fill my screen, leaving me without any Glitter Girl time.
I was pissed. After all, I invested a great deal of time in this endeavor and I sat through all of the ads that appear on Fox News on a weekday afternoon. I learned very little about the news, but I now know who to call if I need representation on a disability claim or if I should ever decide to attend a trade school. Thanks, Fox!
Finally, it happened. Glitter Girl. It was a brief interview. They talked about what caused her to blow up on the show. She admitted that some of it was fake rage designed to keep the cameras on her. She reminded us all a few times that she is not a psychopath. She just likes glitter. It's a "reflection on [her]self". Overall, though, she remained in true Glitter Girl character. Shep Smith did a good job of pretending as if it wasn't a real interview. He increased his aloofness factor a little bit and was just patronizing enough that we'd all know he thought Glitter Girl was a nut without her figuring it out.
Then it was time for Cavuto. I cannot watch Cavuto. My inability to watch him has nothing to do with the content of his program or the quality of his perspective (both of which are less intellectually stimulating than reruns of Gilligan's Island). I cannot watch Cavuto because the combination of his massive orb of a head, his cheese-grating voice and his O'Reilly-esque pomposity is just too overwhelming.
I didn't think about Glitter Girl again. Until today.
I was patrolling the web for items of interest and I found this post about another early episode Idol loser named Milo Turk. He apparently sang some weird pro-abstinence song of his own creation. Everyone says he stunk.
Well, it turns out that Milo is actually a professional comic and singing crappy songs like that is all part of his act. He wasn't portrayed as a comedian on Idol. They played it straight. They were either intentionally removing context to create a false impression or they got scammed by Mr. Turk. Either way, well-played Milo! Milo is not alone. Others have pulled similar stunts.
This revelation re: Milo Turk led my mind back to Glitter Girl. There was something about her that made me wonder... Could she, too, be an Idol fake? Was Alexis Cohen of Allentown, PA, a phony?
The answer to that question is a qualified "yes". You see, she isn't as crazy as she seemed to be on the show. She isn't quite as dim as she pretended to be on Idol. She doesn't always cover her countenance with glitter and blue lipstick. She has a band. She's involved with a few improv troupes, too.
Based on all of the evidence I uncovered, her performance was 30% reality and 70% fiction. I don't have a problem with that. She pulled a Milo Turk on the Idol people and that's fine. What I thought was interesting is that she showed up "in character" for her interview with Shepard Smith and he talked to her as if Glitter Girl was her true personae and not just an act.
That's not the biggest deal in the world, but you would think a NEWS organization might take a moment to question whether their upcoming interview was on the level or not. You would think that Shep Smith might wonder if he was jawing with a real person or a performance art character. Apparently that didn't happen. Usually, a new guy interviews actors instead of characters. Not this time.
You see, Smith and Co. didn't bother to find out anything about their subject. Who could blame them, right? After all, Shep was just shilling for one of the network's other shoes. He was just doing a little ad work for Idol in the afternoon. Even if he did know that Glitter Girl was a fabrication of sorts, he also knew that the truth wouldn't help out the American Idol ratings cause.
This is Glitter Girl. More accurately, it's Alexis Cohen. This picture was discovered at her MySpace page. That page features her blog, in which she rants about the war on drugs. It contains a little information about her band, All Ryzing. It features comments from her friends who seem at least partially sane, remarking on her AI appearance as if it was one helluva joke.
Apparently Cohen commented on a few blogs here and there. She was clearing up a few misconceptions about her life while railing against the allegedly unfair treatment the exploitative folks at American Idol doled out. There's no way of ascertaining whether she actually left the comments, of course. Others who claim to know (or to have known) Cohen say that she's had some issues with mental illness and an abusive father (now dead). Some of that seems to check out. Other aspects of her real bio remain a mystery.
There are others who argue that Ms. Cohen was legit. They maintain that her difficult upbringing merged with mental illness and that the sum of many parts led to the enraged gal with blue lipstick we saw on TV. If that's the case, I'm at least a little receptive to the argument that we should question the exploitation involved in the production of American Idol and other reality programs.
I'm not ready to say that Alexis is the Glitter Girl Next Door, but I am fairly convinced that we were given an intentionally misleading portrait of her on American Idol. I know that AI is just a bullshit television show that's fun to watch while eating tater tot casserole, so I'm not weeping over that. I am a little more bothered by the inability of the so-called "real" media to see through the (at least partial) ruse. I'm not just talking about Fox, either. She's apparently made appearances elsewhere and no one is really bringing up the fact that she has another band, isn't a complete freak 24/7, etc.
If the news media is willing to become a version of Entertainment Tonight, they could at least apply the journalistic skills they might have to the project. It's like having Robert DeNiro on your show and asking him what it was like to run a casino, lose his gaming license, and to find out that his wife was banging Joey Pesci. Hey, if they did that, it would actually be more forgivable because Bobby did better as Ace Rothstein than Alexis did as Glitter Girl.
You've now suffered through this excruciatingly long post. You're probably wondering why I bothered with it. What is it about Glitter Girl, Shepard Smith and Simon Cowell that deserves this much attention? Do I think Paula Abdul is THAT hot (No, for the record. Not since the MC Scat Cat days)?
As promised, this post is about simple events and their ability to reveal crap when you look at them with even a dash of seriousness. Here's what we learned from the Glitter Girl Extravaganza...
American Idol is either gullible or manipulative to the point of dishonesty. That isn't a big deal, but I think a lot of people enjoy the program because of its reality. We've always known that some of that reality is suspended in order to generate an acceptable product, but Milo Turk, Glitter Girl, and others undercut the shows honesty and appeal.
Fox News is either lazy or dishonest (I'm picking on Fox because that's where I personally saw an interview. Other networks may have been just as bad). Either they don't really do a damn bit of research past watching American Idol or they do and then opt not to report so you can't decide. I know that plugging a show isn't like breaking the Pentagon papers, but it would be nice if people took their role seriously. That might involve not having Glitter Girl interviews (hint, hint) but at the very least it would involve legitimate ones. If you can't trust the throwaway interview of last night's mini-star, how can you trust coverage of significant events and players in major decisions?
People are willing to do the damnedest things for attention. Alexis Cohen opted to portray herself as a glittered up walking freak show just to get seven minutes on broadcast television and the proverbial fifteen minutes to follow. It's not quite a Faustian bargain, but it probably is a pretty shitty one overall.
We are willing to give people the attention they crave. That might be the sickest part of this. Alexis Cohen was willing to do at least amplify her natural nuttiness to get a reaction. I'm here reacting to it. There's a kind of nasty symbiosis to the whole thing. Eventual traffic numbers for this post will undoubtedly prove the existence of that symbiotic relationship. And, the fact that I'm even thinking in those terms, utilizing Alexis Cohen's story as a means of attracting people to Prepare Yourselves for a Settlement just adds another layer to the whole shitpie, doesn't it?
Shepard Smith wears as much, if not more, makeup than Glitter Girl. Yes, this is nothing more than a smart-ass dig at Shep. Unlike some of the stuff that appears on Fox, however, it's true. He looks like some sort of weird painting of Shep Smith these days. I know the guy has aged since his glory days of running down other reporters in his car, but the makeup face is undoubtedly spookier than his real features.
All of that brings up more important questions. Well, maybe the part about Smith's makeup doesn't, but the rest of it probably does. What does all of this tell us about our attraction to celebrity? What does it really say about the state of the media and of entertainment? About our tastes for each? It also raises a few questions about the exploitation of folks who might not be clued in at a high level and those who may suffer with an illness.
Technorati Tags: American Idol, Alexis Cohen, Glitter Girl, LONG POST, shepard smith, fox news, Media, Television
Del.icio.us Tags: American Idol, Alexis Cohen, Glitter Girl, LONG POST, shepard smith, fox news, Media, Television
Furl Tags: American Idol, Alexis Cohen, Glitter Girl, LONG POST, shepard smith, fox news,Media, Television