The Ownership Society: Forcing celebrities to publicly apologize for minor offenses | Street Jazz

The Ownership Society: Forcing celebrities to publicly apologize for minor offenses



Earlier this year, singer Randy Travis was arrested on a charge of public intoxication after he was discovered sitting in a parked car outside a church in Texas. Travis appeared to be drunk, and was holding an opened bottle of wine.

The ground outside his car was littered with the bodies of the small animals he had killed in an alcoholic rage during the night. As he was handcuffed, Travis began screaming about “Democratic/Republican conspiracies” and the Trilateral Commission.

He also brought down the wine bottle as hard as he could upon the head of the altar boy who had discovered him in the first place, crying out, “I’ve got your Point of Light right here, kid!”

Oh, wait . . .

Actually, most of what I wrote above is not true. The only reality to to the situation is that Travis was arrested after being caught in his car outside the church, holding the bottle of wine. Nevertheless, Travis expressed his regret to his fans in an apology, saying in a statement released to the Associated Press:

“I apologize for what resulted following an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl. I’m committed to being responsible and accountable, and apologize for my actions.”

People magazine (our favorite publication which promises not to use too many big words) also reported that the singer told the police on the scene that he and his girlfriend were in the middle of a fight.

Maybe I’m too consumed with my own life, but the words, “I don’t care” kept flashing through my brain in bright neon lights. Really, were folks going to go down to Hastings in droves, clutching their Randy Travis CDs, because of this?

Unless it rises to the level of a capital crime, I’m not sure that I need to know these things, and I certainly don’t need people to grovel all the time.

Golfer Tiger Woods, who made a shambles of his personal life, was compelled to grovel to everyone to couldn’t imagine that golfers were flesh-and-blood human beings like the rest of us.

Actor Christian Bale came under fire after his verbal rant at the Director of Photography for Termination: Salvation went viral (that’s probably the first and last time I’ll use that word, I think) on the Internet.

He apologized to everyone in the Known Universe who suffered under the misapprehension that he was Buddy Ebsen.

Bale was out of line, but he didn’t owe me an apology. He does owe me an apology for this being his last Batman movie, I think, but that is between him and God, I suppose.

In America, we we have something called the “Ownership Society,” which basically means that people own stuff.

It also means, if you are a celebrity, that people own you.

Try as one might, one can’t pass the check-out stand in the grocery store without learning of the latest scandals in Celebrity Land.

It is a world in which men and women send out press releases every time their car suffers the slightest dent, or their marriage slips through the rocks, or one of the Kardashians moves into the neighborhood. They need to feel that we care - and okay, a lot of us do.

And in a world in which television series can be saved by petition drives, or the multiple votes from people who know absolutely nothing at all about the form of dance can keep untalented cretins proudly parading their lack of skill on our screens, there has developed a feeling that somehow, in a psychopathic way, celebrities belong to us.

No, not in the “I know you really love me, and I’ll stalk you if you don’t answer my letters” sort of way, but in another way. In addition to buying their work, and reading the largely fictionalized version of their life in supermarket checkout rags, we have a right to express outrage (the most over-rated of all human emotions) every time they indulge in behaviors we don’t approve of.

They have become our property.

We can make them afraid.

So they have the boiler-plate apologies ready to send out at a moment’s notice, in the awful event they do something that human beings do, and should be forgiven for.

The things we should avert our eyes from (but all too often we enjoy hearing about) because they are another's shame and humiliation. In the process, we become coarsened.

Drinking? Adultery? A creative artist having a “moment” on a project?

Give me a break.


Jackie Gleason and the art of apology

Then again, sometimes an apology really is called for.

In 1961, Jackie Gleason laid one of the biggest bombs that network history has ever seen - You’re in the Picture. It was such a disaster, that the second episode consisted entirely of Gleason talking to the audience, discussing the show and the failure.

I don’t suppose William Shatner will ever apologize for T.J. Hooker, will he?


The Bully of Bentonville?

Well, nobody’s ever going to go broke being critical of Walmart . Bookstores across the United States feature book and magazine covers critical of the Bentonville-based giant on a regular basis. In fact, just about the only place you probably won’t see these books cropping up is on the bookshelves at the nearest Walmart Supercenter nearest you.

Anthony Bianco’s The Bully of Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart’s Everyday Low Prices is Hurting America is one of the more interesting books I have read about the store whose most minor press releases are treated like major news on local TV stations.

Bianco, a senior writer at Business Week magazine, has provided the reader with a powerful indictment of the company that Sam Walton founded so many years ago.

The book opens with a chapter provocatively titled, “The Case Against Wal-Mart,” and from that beginning, takes the reader through a thorough history of the retail giant. It’s not all a bash-fest. Bianco gives credit where credit is due, and does not blame Walmart for everything that has gone wrong in the world today.

But he builds a persuasive case that it is, indeed, directly responsible for a lot of the problems that people are facing - both in the United Sates and around the world.

The book may be difficult reading for those who are unaware of Walmart's culpability when it comes to keeping wages down - and not just in their own stores, but in other businesses as well. Or the fact that so many Walmart's employees must seek help from the state, in the form of food stamps and other assistance? After all, a whopping 46 per cent of Walmart's employee’s are either uninsured or are on Medicaid.

No, the average Walmart shopper may be completely unaware of these things - especially if they get most of their news from local television, which treats each Walmart press release as reverently as though it were a Papal Bull.

It’s a fascinating journey into the mind set of a company that, for all its innovation and professionalism, can be driven into near hysteria by the very mention of a union. Stranger still, is a company in the 21st Century which still treats female employees like second-class citizens.

It is estimated that the annual employee turnover rate is almost 50 percent. Doesn’t say much for morale, does it?

And yet, though Walmart is often perceived as having all the power on their side, their bullying tactics and insensitivity to their own employees is creating a powerful insurgent movement across the country.

In the chapter entitled, “Where Would Jesus Shop?” Bianco tells of the efforts of religious groups to wield influence over Wal-Mart. Walmart seems to react in a particularly confused manner to criticism based on moral grounds.

There is even worse news on the horizon for Walmart: Bianco shows how a few companies have decided not to follow their example, and pay their employees higher wages. Not only do they have higher employee loyalty, but most are showing a nice profit.

After reading Bianco’s book, I was left with the conclusion that if the employees of the retail monster are to have any hope of a better life, it will have to come from outside the company.; I doubt that Walmart will be leaping to make their employees a priority any time soon.


On the Air with Abel Tomlinson of Move to Amend Arkansas

Abel Tomlinson, of Move to Amend Arkansas, will be my guest this week.

Recently the Fayetteville City Council voted on a resolution against what is known “Corporate Personhood,” and the idea that corporations can be regarded in the same light as actual human beings.

In doing so, Fayetteville has joined other communities across the nation in taking a stand on the issue, and urging that the United States Constitution be amended to ensure that only human beings, and not not corporations, have constitutionally protected free speech rights.

The issue is one that Americans across the country are debating, and has entered the presidential debate, when GOP candidate Mitt Romney openly declared, “Corporations are people, my friend,” in response to a question from an audience member.

Chapters of Move to Amend have been pushing for an amendment across the country.

Show days and times:

Wednesday - 6am/6pm
Friday - 6am/6pm

Fayetteville Public Access Television is shown on Channel 218 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville, and on Channel 99 of AT&T’s U-Verse, which reaches viewers from Bella Vista to Fort Smith.

FPAT can also be seen on line at:


Quote of the Day

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn’t have in your home. - David Frost.

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