Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why the media should have given a sh*t about TMZ's "Sambo-Obama" slur (and why it didn't)

Over the weekend, we pointed out that the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com ran a post headline that was even more disgusting than the usual fare like the coprophiliac ones squeezed out in recent hours (including You Too Can Buy Lou Pearlman’s CrapPromoter Up Sh*t Creek Without Kelly Contract… and Zac Efron? Sounds Like Toilet Cleaner To Me):

"SNL" Creating Sambo-Obama?

The “Sambo-Obama” slur was a deliberate, irresponsible, dangerous move that minced far past the deviant celebutardcentric silly zone of the Time Warner-AOL cell. Though cloaked in a show business thong (the story, already a week old when it was slipped onto the TMZ site three days before the Texas and Ohio primaries, was ostensibly about a Saturday Night Live casting decision), moved slyly into the political arena and very well could have been planted with the approval of TMZ frontman Harvey Levin and his corporate overlords, just to keep the “Sambo-Obama” connection in the minds of voters.

We pointed it out over the weekend. Our staff sent out some alerts. And, to paraphrase TMZ:

Nobody gave a sh*t.

There were no links to our story; no follow-ups; no outrage over the powerful corporate porn-pushing gossips. What could it matter that a silly operation filled with pretty young boys and home video, out to embarrass whatever semicelebrity who ventures to the local Starbucks, used a racist term to describe an African American Presidential candidate—and used it in the wrong context?

Here’s why. Lazy entertainment bloggers (we’re looking at you, formerly-influential Defamer) link to TMZ videos and stories. And even lazier, fatter mainstream journalists-- the same ones who “got heavy” with Obama this week after they were lampooned on that very same Saturday Night Live show—use TMZ as a legitimate news source. Harvey Levin makes regular appearances on morning television in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Jon Klein at CNN even lets him sit in for Larry King. And when TMZ buys or hypes a story, the “mainstream news media” will often pick it up. And thanks to the powerful stewardship of AOL and Time Warner, TMZ stories are spread all over the Internet, picked up and copied automatically by hundreds of websites, blogs, slurpsites and search engines around the globe.

Proof? Google “Sambo-Obama. Go ahead. Google it!

Notice there are “about 3,470” results.

Now remove the dash. Google "Sambo Obama":

About 273,000 results.

And it’s no credit to Harvey Levin and the crew. It's thanks to the power of the megamonolith behind them that “Sambo-Obama,” a crude, crass, demeaning, unclever headline from the lewd weekend crew, becomes part of the lexicon.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

1 comment:

The Unsomnambulist said...

I hate to ever be one to defend TMZ, and I am actually pretty sensitive to the slandering of Obama, but I think your analysis here is off the mark.

TMZ's post and title seems to express outrage at the idea of, essentially, a lightskinned actor portraying a black man, which some would argue is akin to using blackface.

I think the term Sambo-Obama summarized this, not to offend Obama or blacks, but to express disdain at the approach.

That said, I don't think TMZ is genuine in their outrage, they're just trying to get hits. But the sentiment is out there.