Open Thread for December 4, 2009

Tiger Woods, the Grammies, the NBC/Comcast deal and more.

And a good day to you, Overthinkers.

Hacking its way across the green this week has been the story of Tiger Woods’ infidelity, exposed when he was taken to the hospital for crashing his Cadillac Escalade after his wife (supposedly) chased him down the driveway with a golf club. The scandal has hounded the pro golfer and his family all week. If he doesn’t address the situation, he may have to retire as merely the greatest golfer in the history of the sport.

Question: does golf need more “bad boy” athletes? Should Phil Mickleson spend more late nights at the 40/40 Club chasing Atlanta models? I mean, um, err … not to suggest that he does that … we’ve said too much.



In music news, the 2010 Grammy Nominees were announced. Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga have 23 nominations between them. Industry insiders predict Taylor Swift will walk away unhappy, as she didn’t have nearly enough music videos wearing odd metallic prostheses.

Question: which pop music star do you most want to see undergo a surreal re-invention, a la “Sasha Fierce” or Lady Gaga? And why?

Tim Burton's next project, Beyonce Glitterhands, alienated his usual audience.

Tim Burton's next project, Beyonce Glitterhands, alienated his usual audience.

And finally, Comcast announced an agreement this week to buy a controlling share in NBC from General Electric. This gives Comcast control over the NBC network, Universal Studios, Bravo, USA, CNBC, MSNBC and the Sci-Fi Channel. No word yet on where Alec Baldwin will end up.

Question: if the deal passes regulatory muster, then Comcast will own NBC, while Disney owns ABC and its affiliates (like ESPN), and Fox owns everything it owns. How many media companies will there be by 2015? Three? Two?

Is Jack Donaghy the new Sumner Redstone?  Or vice versa?  Or BOTH?

Is Jack Donaghy the new Sumner Redstone? Or vice versa? Or BOTH?

Answer these questions, or talk pop culture of your own, in the comments! This is YOUR Open Thread.

15 Comments on “Open Thread for December 4, 2009”

  1. Matthew Wrather #

    An interesting little discussion has popped up on the OTI Writers’ mailing list: Who would you say is the Godfather of Overthinking?

    Perich’s suggestion, which I agree with, is that modern Overthinking can be traced to Roland Barthes.

    I think he’s right — and, what’s more, you can see a trajectory of more and more overthinking in the progression from an early work like Mythologies to a magnum opus like S/Z.

    Whom would you nominate?


  2. Gab #

    Wrather: You. ;p

    My take on Tiger is he’s going to get kind of snuffed by his fellow golfers. I don’t think golf is at all a “bad boy” sport, it’s a gentleman’s sport. I mean, maybe it would become more popular and less hoity-toity-esque if there were some more scandals and police reports, but I don’t see them actually ocurring. I don’t think it needs it, either. For what it is, it succeeds- it’s if the golf industry itself wants to change that would determine whether or not “bad boys” are “needed” or not. Football has enough of that for me.

    I will say, somewhat in his defense, that while he shouldn’t have had an affair (or so many, for that matter), a spouse never has the right even threat, let alone commit, violence against their adulterous partner. I have heard (in personal discussions, at least) arguments along the lines of, “He cheated, she had every right!” Really? Every right to brandish a golf club? There is underlying sexism there, for if the roles were reversed, you bet your boots he’d be in jail (and people justifying her would be of the opinion that he should rot there, even if the golf club never actually touched the wife). Maybe she was suffering from a moment of hysteria or something, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t out-of-line.

    As for Mickelson, he’s the golfer you root for if you’re a masochist- he’s basically the Second Best Golfer of Our Time, which is soooooooo close and yet soooooo far. He gets right on the cusp and then DOH! he chokes at the last. He’s totally a tragic hero. His flaw isn’t hubris, though, it’s an inherent inability to win first place enough. My heart goes out to him. And he, by the way, is very much a family man. Doesn’t he skip some tournaments because of family stuff going on sometimes? I know he converted to Mormonism to marry his wife and such…

    Re: pop star- Babs.

    Comcast: I think the big worry about these companies owning everything is about the money, of course, not the content. If the companies making the movies own television networks, movie purchases, both at theaters and stores, could drop dramatically- movies would just come on TV sooner, so why bother spending the money on a ticket? And why bother buying the DVD when you can DVR so much sooner and then copy that? This would also cause networks like HBO and Showtime to crash, for why should a company pay THEM to show their movies when said company owns its OWN channel(s)?

    I’d like to see


  3. fenzel #

    I’d like to see Reuben Studdard reinvent himself as a cyborg named RS-1 who sings soul-influenced electronica. Perhaps in collaboration with Deltron.


  4. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Wrather –

    I always sort of considered the patron saint of OverthinkingIt to be David Foster Wallace. The man would write these mammoth essays about St. Elsewhere, Terminator, and David Lynch. They would be intellectual, they would be funny, and even when I disagreed with him, he always made me see the deeply familiar in a new way.

    – Matt


  5. fenzel #

    Personally, I am worried that Comcast is going to curtail the liberal bent of MSNBC and similar properties. Comcast’s leadership is known for effing with its business politically and getting involved in misleading the public with fake advertisements and other propoganda (just remember their campaign to stop the West Side Stadium, which involved publishing fake interviews with firefighters and other blue-collar folks when their real motivation was to keep competition away from MSG, which they own).

    Like, I give it a year before the top-down management shakeups start putting more conservative propaganda on NBC affiliates. And not the kind of conservative propaganda that sensible conservatives like — stuff about the advantage of tax cuts, or the imporance of patriotism. No, more “Is Obama going to murder your grandma” or “Aren’t you worried about all these Mexicans? They could do ANYTHING.” type stuff.

    They’ll start by turning CNBC into more of a Fox Business channel. MSNBC will hold out for a while, but there will probably eventually be some sort of manufactured scandal that will put an end to all that — and then, the teeth taken out of whoever’s left, they’ll keep their liberal brand, but not really put out liberal content.

    The people who run Comcast are seriously bad dudes, and I mean that in both their intent and their willingness and ability to kick ass when necessary. If you don’t think they will eventually find a way to use this platform to exert their political will, you are kidding yourself.


  6. Valatan #

    I still think the Comcast deal is going to get nixed by the federal anti-trust commission. Maybe I’m just thinking hopefully, but it is so, so blatantly an anti-competitive move, that I can’t see the feds not stopping it.


  7. Gab #

    Fenzel, I had no idea Comcast is that way. I see no reason to doubt you, and what you said worries me. A lot. Now I have visions of bodies planted in Olbermann’s car (“He really IS a psycho!!!!”) and Maddow being tricked into making out with a man on camera (“It was all a liberal LIE!!!”).


  8. Trevor #

    1.) I think it’s more interesting that it’s taken this long for Tiger’s image to be tarnished than it is that it was tarnished at all. An interesting psyhcological dispensation that we all have is that we never really love our celebrities more than when they’ve fallen on their ass or revealed a chink in their armor. With his well-crafted image as a control-freak millionaire who just happens to be the best golfer who ever lived, Tiger has accumulated plenty of superlatives over the course of his career but this is the first time we’ve really seen him get hit, so to speak (both literally and figuratively, if the domestic abuse charges are to be believed). An interesting sidenote is the amusement to be had at reporters from other fields forced to talk about something outside their comfort zone when a major news story crosses into their territory (I’m thinking of the major news outlets who don’t cover Tiger except when he’s winning now being forced to discuss something other than his golf stroke, but it could apply the other way around whenever pop culture intersects with sports culture and sports guys have to talk about things totally out of their element).

    2.) I think the pop star who could have the most benefit from an image makeover is…Chris Brown. Seriously, the guy can’t get away fast enough from the Rihanna scandal, and we’ve seen stars emerge from serious criminal charges to reinvent their careers (though few survive the kind of charges that Brown is facing at least in the public domain because his legal obligations seem to have been met by a plea deal). That being said, I have no clue how he can rebrand himself (perhaps he could embrace his inner Ziggy Stardust or something radical like that, or pull a Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines “double threat” move).

    3.) There will be one media company in a few years, NewsNBCCorpsFoxUnivisionABCTelemundoGEBETDisneytoonNetworkBBCiversal, and it will own us all. So say the Bible, and we all know that’s a reliable source of information


  9. Jon Eric #

    1.) I’m not sure why the world gives a flying hoot about Tiger Woods’ apparent affairs, let alone this big a flying hoot about it. The nation was in less of an uproar when Jon Kyl came out about his affair, and Jon Kyl writes laws, for chrissakes.

    2.) I can’t recall a pop star actually undergoing such a transformation and emerging noticeably the better for it (unless you count the Beatles when they stopped touring, or XTC when they did the same), so… I dunno, Clay Aiken? Jason Mraz? Or maybe someone who hasn’t really been in the public consciousness for a while, like Everlast?

    3.) In 2015, there won’t be any media companies at all. Everyone will be pirating everything on the internet and bankrupting all the distributors.

    4.) Depending on how far back you wanna go, I think you can make the argument for Sir Philip Sidney, with his 1579 manifesto, The Defence of Poesy, often considered the first work of literary criticism. Just as few today have thought to subject pop culture to such a level of scrutiny, in Sidney’s time, nobody had thought to do the same to works that we now consider canonical literature. ‘Course, Belinkie’s suggest of David Foster Wallace is a good one, too. RIP.

    Also, I noticed you hit 1,000 fans on Facebook! Go you guys!


  10. Valatan #

    @Jon Eric:

    When David Bowie dropped the folk singer thing and went glam


  11. Trevor #

    Regarding overthinkers, I certainly think Chuck Klosterman deserves to be on the list (if not necessarily near the top, because there’s an argument to be made that he’s a mere child in the land of pop-culture critiques).

    @Valatan: True about Bowie, but was anyone really aware of him in America before he became Ziggy (apart from Space Oddity)? The argument could be made that when Bowie went from glam to the Thin White Duke period and beyond (thus maintaining his relevance well past whatever expiration date might have been on his glam phase), he set the template for artists like Madonna to follow.


  12. Matthew Wrather #

    Hey, everyone — In the title block on individual post pages, you’ll find a “print” link. Sorry it took two years to implement.

    Enjoy! But don’t waste paper.


  13. dock #

    As anyone else noticed that the music industry is getting more and more life professional wrestling these days? Its cartoonishly bad and obviously scripted and controlled from behind the scenes. I just wish Stone Cold would come out at the grammys and start Stunning people. Now that, I’d watch!


  14. Jon Eric #


    Man, you’re right. But why did they have to turn Kanye heel?

    But hey, if the music industry is making you sick, you can always help support independent musicians!
    [/shameless plug]


  15. Rob #

    I hadn’t heard about Jon Kyl. Perhaps you mean John Ensign?
    (Or David Vitter? Or Rudy Giuliani? Or Newt Gingrich? Or…)


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