Eye on the Blogosphere ? Never fall in love, but also don?t get political, at the Jersey Shore

By Taryn Hartman
Legal News

No time for shenanigans this week, kids. We have to cover a lot of updates on previously discussed topics. You’d think things would slow down a little during the summer months as people head off on vacations and take long weekends at their lakefront cottages, and in most law firms, that’s probably the case. But the Blogosphere has heated up along with the thermometer, dishing out content as juicy as my beloved Gardenburgers and so plentiful that last week in blogosphere has been nothing short of an information feast for the lead flight attendant on your cyber-spaceship.

Let’s start by recalling the most important, life-altering three-part series of our time: the “What’s in a Name?” trilogy. For a refresher, check out http://bit.ly/d88tsB, http://bit.ly/cIU1Ii, and http://bit.ly/dzv4Kg.

Elizabeth Wurtzel, the bestselling author-turned-lawyer who started the whole phenomenon, was back on our radar last week with a blog post for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s law school (http://bit.ly/c4Jik2), which was picked up by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (http://bit.ly/a0RxYs) and Above the Law (http://bit.ly/aZLuMX).

It’s a fabulous critique of the bar exam, questioning the test’s relevance and place in the legal profession and points to it as “the first step in a bad system.” If you only read one of the stories I link to this week, please make it that one. The post speaks for itself, but if you really MUST have a snippet, it’s the sexy factoid that, in addition to Wurtzel on her first attempt, the list of one-time bar-flunkers is long and luminous, encompassing names like Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, FDR, California AG and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who took it four times) and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, whom Wurtzel reports “sat for it six times.”

Continuing to play Six Degrees of the Blogosphere, we now turn to Wurtzel’s boss David Boies. Geez, this guy is everywhere. He may be best known for arguing on behalf of Al Gore in the 2000 election dispute and then joining with his prior nemesis Ted Olson, who represented G. W. Bush, to take on California’s Proposition 8, on which a federal ruling is imminent. He was in the news last week offering his opinion on the conclusion of that case (http://bit.ly/dpURwT) on the death of his client and Yankee Boss George Steinbrenner (http://bit.ly/bsLJvm), and also because of his involvement in the ongoing Dodgers’ Divorce between team owners Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie, Boies’s client (http://nyti.ms/9bzKkX). He must plug himself in at night using the same brand of personal recharger favored by Ryan Seacrest.

Now, I consider part of my duty here to be keeping members of the Metro Detroit legal community sufficiently informed of the goings-on in American pop culture. That’s really the only justification I can come up with for the amount of personal knowledge I’m about to spew on this next, particularly meaningless topic: reality television, which is currently making my generation look so bad that we should probably just be passed over on that whole inherit-the-world’s-problems assembly line. Seriously, just skip us. We’re epically hopeless.

Case in point: there’s this show on MTV called “Jersey Shore,” which portrays seven millennials of Italian descent (self-proclaimed “Guidos” and “Guidettes,” much to the chagrin of organizations like UNICO—see http://bit.ly/6gP7Wc) wreaking absolute havoc at the title summer hamlet. It’s a marketer’s dream. These kids came with prepackaged nicknames—J-Woww, Snooki, Sammi Sweetheart and, my personal favorite, The Situation, because the young man’s abs apparently represent “a situation” of some type—the origins of which or reasons behind I guess didn’t warrant any mention.

And you know what? The lucrative 18-34 demographic went with it. The show premiered last December and was such a runaway smash—I’m guilty of bouncing up and down on my bed, applauding with gleeful laughter while watching the absurdity unfold—that it was quickly renewed for a second season that starts July 29.

But perhaps the show’s greatest impact lies in its inadvertent canonization of its dim-witted stars, who thanks to the show and their “celebrity” now have a platform from which to spread their well-informed insights about the benefits of “GTL” (gym, tanning, laundry — the Guido creed) and make more money for showing up at a bar and getting drunk than my yearly salary.

There’s probably enough material in this televised funhouse to fill an anthropological dissertation, but let’s just say you’ve been sufficiently briefed. For a video version of pretty much everything you need to know about this disaster, visit http://bit.ly/9co2r9.

So, in June, a now-hard-to-find trailer for the upcoming second season hit the interwebs and featured pocket-sized dynamo Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi telling the camera, “I don’t go tanning anymore because Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning and I feel like he did that intentionally for us. McCain would never put a 10 percent tax on tanning, because he’s pale and probably would want to be tan.” (via http://bit.ly/9sitap)

That’s bad enough, but of course it got worse. Senator John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) himself then tweeted in response, “@Sn00ki u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Pres Obama’s tax/spend policy is quite The Situation. but I do rec wearing sunscreen!”

Last week, Snooki chatted it up with McCain’s daughter Meghan, the Daily Beast columnist whom I previously lauded here as a young Republican and millennial voice worth listening to (http://bit.ly/aVVGzY). My opinion of her has changed slightly since then, particularly after watching Democratic strategist Paul Begala eviscerate her with such intellectual precision it was practically surgical on a 2009 episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Peep the Huffington Post clip at http://huff.to/mgSk4, but here’s the gist of the takedown: Meghan feigned youthful ignorance, and insinuated that Begala was an old man, when she responded, “I wasn’t born yet, so I don’t know,” with a smug little giggle after Begala asserted that Ronald Reagan blamed the missteps of his presidential predecessor Jimmy Carter for a long time after Reagan’s election. Without missing a beat, Begala shot back, “I wasn’t born during the French Revolution, but I know about it.” Boom. Meg pwnd (http://bit.ly/4l1Q7). You can tell from the clip that Begala’s head is about to explode as he’s forced to “debate” a twentysomething who just confirmed every negative perception people have about the self-interested know-it-alls that comprise her age group.

Last week’s Daily Beast column (http://bit.ly/9H3KOL) doesn’t help. To get through the whole thing you have to stumble over a good number of “like, you know’s, but the real crux of it boils down to this gem from Snickers: “I only know politics about, like, you know, tanning and being a Guidette. So when I saw it was Obama and McCain, to be honest with you, the only reason why I voted for your father was because he was really cute and I liked when he did his speeches.”

Nota bene: I’m currently living in a house not equipped with air conditioning, so you’ll understand if the past two weeks of near-constant heat have driven me to the edge of sanity and/or made me spicier/pricklier/rantier than usual. But it’s hard for me to describe just how appalled I was while reading the mutual love-fest last Monday.

THIS IS YOUR FUTURE, AMERICA!! As we prepare to go into a season of critical congressional and state elections, these are the people who are casting the votes that decide our leadership and the reasoning behind their decisions, all during a time when we’re facing what very well could be the most important policy issues of the modern era.

I know these two girls don’t represent everybody. But the greatest outrage may come from the fact that we’ve given people like them a platform from which their words and viewpoints are widely disseminated and potentially influence the opinions their peers. In today’s hyperconnected society, the lines are becoming exceedingly blurred. The lines between celebrities, everyday civilians, and the gray area now occupied by the former average Joes and Janes who’ve been given some hybrid of the two thanks to reality TV. The line between whether we’re laughing with or laughing at the debauchery broadcast by this particular genre. And the line between whether we summarily dismiss these pseudo-celebs’ musings on politics or current events or any given topic, or if we, in whatever small way, absorb and internalize parts of them. It’s that last one that’s really terrifying.

So that’s it, people. This is what we do. This is what we spend our time on, how we develop our thoughts and make our decisions. You should probably start digging backyard bunkers and stockpiling Aquafina right now.