Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who'll save TMZ from this smell?

The tape begins with Diamond in a bathtub, narrating what's to come. It ends with Diamond introducing one of the women to a "Dirty Sanchez." Suffice it say, it is unbelievably graphic... To say the least, the video is unique and, dare we say, entertaining.

That's how the megacorporate gossip website TMZ.com describes the "Screech Sex Tape," a premeditated outrage featuring a sad former child star that's being promoted as the most disgusting, repulsive, appalling, insulting, debasing, degrading, unhealthy, unnatural, unkind, anti-feminist heterosexual celebrity sex tape yet: one that’s built around a coprophiliac act so beyond the bounds of human decency that most civilized persons who've heard the term assumed it to be a nasty fantasy used for a laugh in a profanisaurus or a one-upping gross-out gag by Andy Dick in The Aristocrats.

The fact that the tape exists and is being promoted isn't a surprise. What may be unprecedented is that TMZ, and its corporate parents, AOL and Time Warner, are doing the promoting.

Since its inception earlier this year, TMZ has positioned itself somewhere between Perez Hilton and Mark Foley, spending its nights goading teen celebutards outside nightclubs and its days hiding in the bushes, drooling over Matthew McConaughey in various states of undress. In recent months, it's gone to extremes seeking publicity-- provoking Woody Harrelson into slugging one of its pesky video kids, disseminating a sweaty rich kid's obscene tirade against Lindsay Lohan, and making hay from Mel Gibson's DUI arrest.

On September 27th, the website began running promotional video clip teasers for the "Screech Sex Tape," featuring the former star of the TV show Saved By The Bell. Upping the unpleasantness ante, the site this week dubbed the video "Saved by The Smell," and teased the participation and degradation of “two women from the heart of the Midwest and in their early 20's.”

Now, don't get us wrong. Tabloids and celebrity sex tapes are a natural fit. When celebs are stupid enough to tape themselves in the act and the tape accidentally gets into the hands of the public, tabloid journos have a field day embarrasing the high and mighty. The folks behind Tabloid Baby, in fact, helped launch the celebrity sex tape era with A Current Affair back in 1989, when they tracked down and made the Rob Lowe sex tape a national issue (there was an underage girl, criminal charges and a Democratic National Convention involved-- see Tabloid Baby, Chapter 4).

Even in the past few years, as a number of celebs have made sex tapes for the purpose of selling them, journos have managed to keep a distance, reporting on the existence of the tapes, sometimes paying to acquire them, but treating them as news.

The case of TMZ and Screech is different. Here, tabloid journalists and their corporate superiors appear to be working with the pornographer to advertise, promote and market the quasi-celebrity sex tape-- a deliberately offensive sex tape (because of the star and acts involved)-- and quite possibly, were in at the ground floor when the video was planned for maximum shock value.

TMZ calls it a "scoop." Except it’s not really a scoop. It’s a series of promotional ads, using video they didn’t get through tabloid reporting. They got it by paying for it. Or by being in on the deal.

The giveaway is David Hans Schmidt, the porn tape broker who’s featured so giddily on TMZ these days. Some of us at Tabloid Baby dealt with Mr. Hans Schmidt during last year's ill-fated revival of A Current Affair, when he was doing anything he could to squeeze a dollar out of the Colin Farrell sex tape he couldn’t legally market.

Mr. Hans Schmidt doesn’t give away anything for free.

Once again, the website fronted by flamboyant former lawyer and TV personality Harvey Levin is in the middle of another dangerous, dirty game.

Interesting that many of the bosses in the Time-Warner tabloid division are women. How do they feel about this? Is there debate from within, any concern that the TMZ lacks the basic tabloid morality they were schooled in, or worry that the website's values may reflect Hollywood Hills rubber sheet parties but aren't shared by the parents of the teenage girls who make up the bulk of their audience?

Time Warner. AOL. TMZ. Harvey Levin. David Hans Schmitt. Dirty Sanchez.

For TMZ, this could be the donkey punch.


fleshbot said...

Screech Sex Tape: The Horror Continues

While we were sleeping off our lunchtime hangovers yesterday afternoon, it looks like TMZ.com unleashed the second preview of the much-dreaded Screech Sex Tape on an already traumatized interweb populace, and we're not the only ones who are wondering why parent company AOL is devoting so much publicity to promoting it—unless it has something to do with exacting revenge on all those former AOL customers who cancelled their dialup accounts.

Look, we're sorry we succumbed to the lure of cheap broadband access before y'all got your act together. Can't you just release the whole thing and end this cruelty before it drags out any further?

Anonymous said...

I agree with fleshbot.

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