I've been thinking a bunch about what we'll remember 2009 for, besides rampant unemployment and two great flu panics. Mostly that is what I'll remember, but I'll also think of it as the year that the nation became obsessed with jerks and woman-beaters. That Levi Johnston, Jon Gosselin and Chris Brown were pretty much the three most popular "stories" of 2009 is amazing, particularly since those first two haven't ever done or said anything. That all have spent the year pushing new products in the midst of their tabloid scandals is pretty telling. I don't even know what Gosselin or Johnston are selling, besides their brand-but Chris Brown's new album "drops" in a month. Say you are Chris Brown. Would you be putting out an album this year? Much less one with an album cover that looks like you're about to beat some tiny animated critters to death with a space-guitar? As your ex-girlfriend was endlessly making the press rounds, talking about how you had "no soul" in your eyes while you bit her?
People like to say, all the time, that "everything is faster now." Just this week, I heard Walter Kirn say that in in a post-screening discussion with Tina Brown and Jason Reitman, for the movie "Up in the Air," which is actually a good film, by the way! But that idea is wrong. Everything is actually so much slower now, because 8000 media outlets repeat and maybe, if you're lucky, incrementally advance narrative storylines about celebrities. None of these people ever stop talking, but they never say anything new.
Chris Brown turned himself in to the cops back in February. He was charged in March, arraigned in April and pleaded guilty to a felony in June. He apologized repeatedly-most infamously by YouTube in July. He was sentenced in August-probation and community service! In September he did Larry King.
It is now November. Rihanna's new album comes out later this month, and so she is up on the "Good Morning America," reliving it all over again. And so then Chris Brown has to go do interviews now, with MTV, in which he discusses how weird his Larry King interview was!
That was TWO MONTHS AGO. And we are still talking about it.
They like to say attention spans are all ruined in America because of the blogs and all the Adderall people keep taking to keep writing their blogs. That is not at all true. Chris Brown is proving that America has a seriously amazing ability to focus.