Tabloids bring relief from war news
By Eugene Robinson
The real news today — the ritual beating of the tom-toms for another war, this time with Iran — is too depressing for a summer morning when we all ought to be on a beach somewhere. Soon enough, the CIA will be talking about slam-dunks and Donald Rumsfeld will have us pondering his classic Zen koan about known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. All that can wait until after Labor Day.
Let's wallow instead in the tabloid news, which has blessed us all with its glorious abundance.
First, is Tom Cruise really so nuts that it made sense for Paramount, his longtime studio, to fire him? His last movie, "Mission: Impossible III," grossed in the neighborhood of $400 million worldwide, and in my book that kind of money buys a little forbearance. If you made $400 million for me, I'd buy Oprah's couch so you could take it home and jump on it whenever you got the urge.
He does seem pretty nuts, though. He lost me when he tried to browbeat Matt Lauer about how psychopharmacology is ruining the world. I really don't have a problem with Cruise's belief in Scientology, even with its aliens and "E-meters" and all. But to go on the "Today" show and recite church doctrine about the evil of psychiatry — instead of plugging your new movie — is like taking the opportunity to preach about the Rapture or the coming of the Twelfth Imam. OK, different strokes and all that, but suddenly Cruise became someone you wouldn't want to sit next to on a long flight.
Still, Paramount and its parent company — that would be Viacom, run by the octogenarian media mogul Sumner Redstone — stuck by their movie star. I think what did it for Redstone was the way Cruise has treated his Stepford baby momma, Katie Holmes, and all the weirdness surrounding the birth of their child. Maybe Cruise (as he claims) was just trying to make a joke when he said he was going to "eat the placenta," but yuck.
You don't want "yuck" to be the first thing people think when they see a picture of your movie studio's biggest star. Redstone decided to ignore Hollywood etiquette — one doesn't just fire Tom Cruise — and abruptly cut him loose. Ultimately Cruise will be fine, because he's rich and talented. I'd suggest he see his doctor about getting on Xanax or some other chill pill, but that would make me evil.
Turning to other tabloid-friendly news of the weird, how about John Mark Karr? I'm sticking by my prediction that soon we'll discover he had nothing to do with the killing of JonBenet Ramsey, except perhaps in his own mind, which is a place not even the most intrepid among us is eager to explore. But if his second ex-wife, the one he married when she was 16, is wrong about his being in Alabama at the time, and there's the slightest possibility that he was in Colorado, then all bets are off.
ABC News had a scoop Wednesday — an interview with Karr's first ex-wife, the one he married when she was 13. The child bride's mother told "Good Morning America" that she remembered seeing notes signed with the same initials, S.B.T.C., that were used to sign the infamous ransom note supposedly found in the Ramsey house.
Probably nothing to it. But if creepiness were a crime, Karr would be under the jail.
Finally, in our last bit of diverting weirdness, I've got to mention the announcement that the flagging CBS reality show "Survivor" has announced that in the coming season, the marooned "tribes" will be separated by race and pitted against each other — whites vs. blacks vs. Latinos vs. Asians. I've saved this for the bottom of the column in order to give this desperate attention-getting stunt as little publicity as possible.
I think the contestants in "Race War Survivor" should expose this travesty for what it is by intentionally conforming to all the racial stereotypes they can think of — but just another group's stereotypes. The Latinos should act uptight, immediately build themselves a golf course, and declare themselves the winners before the competition begins. The Asians should eat nothing but fried chicken (or fried lizard), spend most of their time dancing and jiving, and find a way to steal the immunity idol. The whites should all live in one tent, speak only in Spanish, and whenever host Jeff Probst drops by to announce the next challenge, a couple of them should hide behind the nearest palm tree in mock fear of deportation. The African-Americans should form a high-tech company and demand a car to drive incompetently.
Now, wasn't that more fun than worrying about Iran? Washington Post Writers Group