Gawker excerpt: Ellen Willis on "Bringing in the Noise" of Trash TV


Willis_Essential coverWhenever the right and the left agree on some proposition about culture, I know it's time to grab my raincoat; and so it is with the incessant demonizing of popular culture and media. Everywhere they look—tabloid television, MTV, Married...with Children, Pulp Fiction, gangsta rap, saturation coverage of O. J. Simpson/the Bobbitts/Amy Fisher— politicians and high-minded journalists see nothing but sleaze and moral degradation.

The latest target is daytime TV talk shows. Rumblings began last year when Jonathan Schmitz murdered Scott Amedure, a gay man, after Amedure identified Schmitz as his "secret crush" on Jenny Jones. Since then, William Bennett and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have called on talk-show advertisers to withdraw their support, N.E.A. nemesis Donald Wildmon's American Family Association has joined the cause with a full-page ad in theNew York Times and Phil Donahue's retirement has touched off a round of head-shaking at the contrast between the now-respectable pioneer of the talk show and his degenerate successors. 

Read the full excerpt.

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