Today the guy best known for shooting and killing an unarmed 17-year-old had his undeserved celebrity validated. George Zimmerman was challenged to a so-called Celebrity Boxing match by an actual celebrity, rapper DMX.
Now it’s true that the “celebrity” in Celebrity Boxing is singular, so we can pretend the designation only applies to DMX. A more accurate name for the match would be “Celebrity-and-Guy-Known-for-Killing-an-Unarmed-Teenager Boxing Match.”
Zimmerman is by no means the first guy with dubious celebrity credentials to get involved in these exhibitionist boxing fetes. Tonya Harding, for instance, founght in a similar match back in 2002. But Harding was known for something other than her involvement in the assault on Nancy Kerrigan in 1994: She started out as a world-renowned figure skater.
Before he killed Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman was a neighborhood-watch coordinator. Now he’s selling his lackluster paintings, or, more likely, stenciled-over photos from Getty Images, for $100,000 on Ebay and he’s getting to perform in the same space as people like Dustin Neil Diamond, who played Screech in Saved by the Bell.
Of course there’s a long tradition of people using their infamy as a way to make money or converting that infamy into another moment in the limelight. Take Anthony Weiner’s 23-year-old sexting partner, Sydney Leathers, who capitalized on her notoriety by modeling for a leather apparel company and doing some filming for porn company Vivid.
But what Leathers did was at worst, distasteful. It’s certainly a far cry from killing a black kid in a hoodie and then going on to reap celebrity status for it. That has got to be a “celebrity culture” nadir of sorts.
Or maybe the nadir was that time O.J. Simpson tried to sell the knife he allegedly used to kill his wife for $5 million? At least he knew it was sick enough to keep it a secret.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.