Monday, June 26, 2006

'Embedded' Blogger? B.S.!

What a Corporate kissass/sellout/opportunist! And wouldn’t I love to be in his place.

One of the things that first attracted me to the blogosphere (aside from an uncontrollable urge to expound on all things me) was the “outlaw” notion of it all. Bloggers were the modern-day equivalent to 18th Century England’s Grub Street pamphleteers. I loved the immediacy of blogging, the living, breathing D.I.Y. spirit of it all. A lone wolf, armed with only his/her computer, could record life heartbeats after it happened and, with one click of the mouse, take it to a worldwide audience. If Thomas Paine were alive today, you can bet your pantaloons he’d be a blogger.

I also loved how said lone wolf, unattached to corporate concerns, was unencumbered by the Rules. “Oh, you can’t say that ‘McDonald’s is an evil empire pushing junk food like street drugs through the use of commercials that resemble cult brainwashing techniques,’” said the Rules to mainstream reporter. “The company which owns this newspaper is owned by a company that merged with the company that bought out the company that owns McDonald’s, you see.” The Rules were for the staid, frumpy old school media. Bloggers made up their rules as they went along. A blogger’s only allegiance was to the Truth—as he/she saw it—goddamnit! YEE-HAW!

Wellp, pardners. . .it seems as though this notion has gone the way of the pamphleteers. Yesterday, I read a Chicago Tribune article (,1,1219915.story?coll=chi-ent_music-hed) about one Junichi Semitsu, an erstwhile blogger who writes a, uh, blog entitled “Poplicks” ( He seems like a nice guy and a pretty talented writer. So talented, in fact, that he attracted the attention of the Dixie Chicks, the all-female country-rock band who grabbed headlines a few years ago for their (okay, just their lead singer, Natalie Maines’) criticism of fellow Texan, George W. Bush. Apparently, the Dixie Chicks were so taken with the lil’ fella, they signed him up as the “official blogger” for their 2006 summer tour. ( In short, Junichi will go everywhere the Chicks go, receive total access to the three beautiful musicians and write about it. And be, like, paid to do so.

I must admit, I was a bit miffed. Miffed, first of all, because the Dixie Chicks obviously have not—in spite of my carrying a torch for their lovely brunette banjo picker, Emily Robison, lo these many years—been reading “John Left’s Field". Way to totally overlook me, girls. And here I thought Emily never answered my fan letters because my epistles of praise charmed her speechless! Dumbass me. Miffed, also, due to the concept of Semitsu the “embedded blogger”, as he’s described in the Tribune article. This scuttles the notion of the outlaw blogger as the voice of Truth in the cyber-wilderness. Okay, maybe that was a brick that just bounced off my head, but it seems like the blogosphere has been co-opted by Corporate America. What is more Corporate than the entertainment business, after all?

You might’ve heard that ever since Natalie spouted off about Dubya, the Dixie Chicks have watched their popularity take a nosedive, especially south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Despite their latest album, Taking the Long Way, hitting #1 on the music charts, many Chicks concerts scheduled for southern and southwestern locales have been cancelled due to sluggish ticket sales. Local radio stations, which were previously eager to hype Dixie Chicks shows, have largely deserted the band in the wake of the Dubya flap. You can read why in the Tribune article. Corporate's got to recover its investment in the Chicks, while maintaining the edgy, "anti-establishment" rep that makes the band's CD's fly off of store shelves. Their solution to the promotional drought? Semitsu and the wide, edgy audience of the blogosphere. They hope.

Semitsu, in the Tribune profile, insists that he has “free reign” over subject matter in his Dixie Chicks blog. Then he goes on to say that everything he posts is “cleared” by the Dixie Chicks' “camp” beforehand. Semitsu even admits a reluctance to write anything “negative” about the country-rock trio. "It would," he comments to the Tribune, "be awkward to be. . .constantly traveling with people when you're writing bad stuff about them." Now don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Semitsu is cool, but he’s also full of shit. He'll write just what his employers (the Chicks, two or three companies removed) tell him to write, or not. That sucking sound you hear is Semitsu’s journalistic integrity going down the chute, on its way to Geraldo Riveraland.

So this is what blogging has come to. Paid, Corporatized brown-nosing. How sad. In my opinion, there’s one of two ways you can go with this situation. If you’re the celebrity talent, make no bones about the fact that “your” blogger is a compensated sycophant—or “fan” in layman’s terms. The other fans, who want only the idealized version of the so-called truth, will appreciate being spoon-fed more of the sweet pabulum they crave. If you’re the blogger, tell the whole brutal truth, warts and all. Yes, I know this is conflicting advice, but that's the point. This is an unnatural breeding of two species that Mother Nature never intended. Example? Imagine, please, if an “embedded blogger” had trailed Elvis Presley on one of his 1970s Vegas-to-Atlantic City-and-back-again jaunts:

DAY 4: Las Vegas, Nevada

Following this evening’s concert, Elvis, the Memphis Mafia, a couple of co-eds from a local college and I repaired to Presley’s suite at the Vegas Hilton. After gobbling 5 or 6 peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Elvis passed the time watching the girls, who had stripped to their underwear, wrestle on the bedroom floor.

Suddenly, the fun was disrupted by the sound of a commotion in the hallway outside. I found out later that the noise was Presley’s bodyguard, Red West, beating the crap out of actor Bill Bixby. I learned that Bixby, who had fallen on hard times since the cancellation of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, had recently been pestering Presley. The unemployed actor had been bugging his former “Speedway” costar about a script he’d commissioned, a sequel to the auto-racing film, which Bixby hoped Presley would star in. Evidently, it took the impression of West’s footprint on his ass to convince Bixby that “Speedway 2” wasn’t going to happen.

Soon after, I observed Elvis removing a handful of pills I recognized as Valium from a nightstand drawer. He swallowed them and within minutes, the King of Rock n’ Roll passed out on his bed, still clad in the white sequined jumpsuit he’d worn on stage. Longtime Presley aide Joe Esposito stood nearby shoveling cash into the departing co-eds’ hands. I asked him how long Elvis had been using sedatives, and why the singer seemed to require so many for sleep. Before Esposito could reply, someone grabbed me by the arm and locked it, karate-style, behind me.

“Them’s not sedatints!” barked Red West, shoving me toward the door. “Them’s vitamins, ya hear? Vitamins! Elvis don’t take no drugs!” West kicked me through the doorway and into the hall. “And don’t write nothin’ ‘bout sedatints in that goddamned log o’ yours! Lessen’ you want both yer mudderfeckin’ laigs broke!” West slammed the door shut.

Later on, I discovered that I’d just missed a late-night visit by Ann-Margret. It seems Presley had invited the fire-haired actress/singer to his hotel room, where she’d promised to “suck his little sooties [feet].” In spite of Presley’s narcotized state, his former “Viva Las Vegas” costar, I was told, dutifully kept her promise.

But of course, that never happened. And it—true blogging—won't happen with Semitsu, either. True blogging requires truth. The entertainment business requires bullshit. If you ask me, blogging and show biz go together like chocolate and onion dip—a combination you shouldn’t even try.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just don't get it do you about the Dixie Chick's selection and the whole funny idea ... it's twisted black humor, young man. See you at Manzanar ...

5:51 PM  

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