The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Lifestyles of the rich and dangerous

On My Way Out There
 Lifestyles of the rich and dangerous
Lifestyles of the rich and dangerous

Lifestyles of the rich and dangerous

Record producer Phil Spector decided to add another layer to his legendary “Wall of Sound” Monday: the sound of a gunshot, directed toward B-movie actress Lana Clarkson. Spector’s murder charges not only add another page to the peculiarly large chapter of recent celebrity felonies and misdemeanors, but also invite stupid columnists to make puns on the phrase “Wall of Sound,” such as the one you just read above.

Spector, who is well-known for doing wonderfully psychotic eccentric things such as drawing a gun on the Ramones during a recording session and taking out newspaper ads exclaiming “Benedict Arnold Was Right!” after the commercial failure of a U.S. single, was arrested at his mansion in Los Angeles, where Clarkson was found.

Spector will be defended by – get this – Robert Shapiro, who was part of O.J. Simpson’s legal team in 1995.

I think that I’m safe in saying that for my generation, Simpson’s case was the “trial of the century,” and the first time many of us were exposed to the sight of a beloved celebrity brought low by accusations of such a heinous crime. Ask any 18-24-year-old where they were when they heard the verdict of that case, and they will likely tell you the exact time it happened and the place they were in when it aired.

Seeing Shapiro take on such a similar case makes me think that maybe he and the rest of the members of Simpson’s legal team should (or already have) made a business out of defending this recent spate of celebrity criminals. (Who knows what’s driving these people to commit criminal acts? Maybe it has something to do with the lunar cycle.)

Take Robert Blake, for instance – another celebrity murderer. (Excuse me . . . suspected murderer.) On the surface, his case looks pretty cut-and-dried – Blake shot his wife outside of a restaurant after several botched attempts at doing her in previously. But by using precedents set by the Simpson case, a defense lawyer like Shapiro could seriously reduce Blake’s possible life sentence.

Blake hired something like five hit men in the past – who’s to say that one of them didn’t eventually follow up on the contract and complete the job? Maybe Blake can promise to devote the rest of his life to tracking down the “real” killers. Hey – I think one of those attempted hits might have even involved a white van.

I guess Blake forget to follow the motto of his TV character, Baretta – “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Keep your eye on the sparrow.” Man, I always thought that cockatoo might have been a bad influence on him.

But there have been other recent high-profile celebrity crimes that haven’t involved manslaughter. Take Pete Townshend, for instance – one of the most respected and influential rockers of all time, brought low by a pitiful child pornography charge. His excuse was that he was doing research for a book, claiming that he thought he may have been abused as a child. While I may be an overzealous fan of The Who, I trust Townshend about as far as I can throw him. At the danger of retreading another editorial cliche, I have to say that I won’t be fooled again.

Townshend’s “research” excuse sounds eerily similar to the one used by Winona Ryder in her gut-twistingly overpublicized shoplifting trial – where she claimed that the thievery thing was part of her preparation for a movie role. I’ll spare you further pain by not dwelling on the subject. But you have to wonder, what’s next? Sting being brought up on charges of stalking? Paul Simon getting sent to a mental asylum for still being crazy after all these years?

Ryder’s trial was an example used in a media ethics class I took last year, debating news vs. entertainment values and whether or not her profile was an excuse for her eventual exploitation. “60 Minutes” producer Don Hewitt’s opinion was that Ryder’s fame pretty much justified oversaturating front page news with information about her trial. I almost wish he were wrong. There’s nothing worse than seeing a celebrity taken apart for such a stupid crime, especially when it seems to be happening so often nowadays, and there are better things to devote news space to.

Celebrity involvement in vandalism and murder is nothing new, but the rich and powerful used to do a much better job of covering it up. Anyone who has seen “The Cat’s Meow” – Peter Bogdanovich’s biopic of William Randolph Hearst’s involvement in the Thomas Ince scandal – can attest to how public figures and the media used to work together to cover these sorts of things up. My advice to people like Phil Spector is to start shrouding their activities in hush-hush wink-wink arrangements like that one; better than that – and this is my big recommendation for the week – don’t shoot people. Come on. The rest of us understand this simple philosophy. Join us, won’t you?

(Postscript: It has been brought to my attention that Townshend is perhaps not as guilty as I previously claimed. Apparently some of the porn Web sites he was implicated as visiting have come to his defense, claiming that he did, in fact, say he was doing research and mentioned he was writing a book. I’m not sure whether or not I believe that, but if I am guilty of besmirching The Holy One’s name, I am truly and humbly sorry. Will 1,000 arm pinwheels and 500 ear-piercing “Yeah!”‘s suffice as penance?)

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