White Noise: News from Inside the Media Bubble
Don’t be a…
The not-so-old adage goes that the one thing that separates alt-weeklies from their mainstream counterparts – i.e. daily newspapers and corporate owned faux-alts, is the F-word. But last week the Washington Post stepped even further back from the edge. In a review for the stage play Kafka’s Dick, which according to a press release is “a comedy that satirizes the ease with which history can be manipulated for personal gain. In this case, the historical information is about the celebrated literary icon Franz Kafka,” theater critic Nelson Pressley was instructed to write his review of the piece without mentioning that troublesome word. “That was a call we made that day,” Arts Editor John Pancake told the Washington City Paper. “I’m not sure it was the right one, I’m not sure it was the wrong one.”
Offending the wrong people
You have to applaud an advertiser that is so willing to stick a finger in the eye of celebrity culture. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been too long in Greensboro, a city whose collective low self-esteem often translates into near hysteria every time a B-level, has-been, hair-metal singer from the 1980s sets foot here. At any rate, an ad for Elmo’s Martini Lounge in Louisville, Ky. that ran around Derby-time in May got both the advertiser and the publisher, Louisville Eccentric Observer, in some hot water with the city’s Metro Human Relations Commission. The offending copy stated, “This Derby Eve, your 15 minutes of fame isn’t going to get you 15 minutes in here. If you have an agent, publicist, third world adopted baby, or front row seats to the Church of Scientology, you have no chance of getting in. Don’t have your people call our people; we will not answer.” According to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, LEO ended up settling by running a free full-page ad reaffirming its commitment to upholding non-discriminatory standards after running up a legal bill in excess of $5,000. But the paper got its revenge by publishing a Dec. 20 cover story pointing out Metro Human Relations Commissioner Alfonso Lanceta, who filed the complaint, was a contractor with the Metropolitan Sewer District, an entity that had been the target of a series of investigative series by LEO.
Clearing the air
Rolling Stone and RJ Reynolds are in more hot water this week after two bands included in the magazine’s “Indie Rock Universe” filed suit for unauthorized use of their names and unfair business practices, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up were two of 150 bands featured in the illustrated spread bracketed by two Camel cigarette ads. The plaintiffs’ attorneys are lobbying for class-action status that would automatically include all the bands in a settlement. The magazine argued that the feature was conceived by Rolling Stone’s editorial staff and had nothing to do with RJ Reynolds.