March 25, 2008

Eliot Spitzer and Alexandra Dupre: Don't Choose The Red Pill

What color bikini does Alexandra Dupre have?  That's right, you're a pawn. 

If you're a guy who has hung out with another guy in the past 12 days, you've had the conversation in which you observe that 1) Alexandra Dupre is hot, but not $5000 an hour hot; 2) that Spitzer is a moron of gigantic proportions, both for his hypocrisy and his now revealed insecurity; 3) only in today's America would getting caught in a criminal act propel you to fame and fortune.  She's got the fame already, and I hear that her music downloads-- even if they're just to hear what she sounds like-- are making her rich.  And the offers from Hustler, Penthouse, tell-all books, movies.  It's all voyeurism, but that's the business she chose.

So the media loves a sexy story, and they milk it for as long as they can, and they found one in Spitzer and Dupre.  It's even sexier that she's going to get rich and famous from all this.  "Spitzer escort's fame to fuel career prospects" says CNN.  But are they reporting that she is getting rich and famous, or causing her to be rich and famous?
By saying she's going to be famous and rich; by saying her website gets a bazillion hits and her songs are being downloaded, they cause it to be true.  Dupre may think she's using this opportunity to promote herself, but the media needs her to succeed in order to have someone to talk about.  In other words, the media needs her to be a star.

It's not volitional, and it's not conscious.  The media isn't saying, "ok, let's make her famous."  The "her" comes second, the "famous" is first.  The only story they can report is the tantalizing one, even if it isn't objectively accurate.

To illustrate this, let me quote from the above article:

The prostitute identified in court papers as Kristen is an aspiring musician named Ashley Alexandra Dupre. Her identity was only first reported Wednesday, but already her fame is skyrocketing.

Get it?  "Kristen" is an alias, her real name is Dupre.  Except Alexandra Dupre isn't her real name, either.  That's her stage name.  Her real name is Ashley Youmans.  Actually, that's not completely right, either-- in 2006 she legally changed it to DiPietro, her stepfather's name.  But whatever her name is, it isn't Dupre.

But there aren't many articles that will tell you her real name, let alone call her by her real name.

The NYTimes ran a story, "So Much Sex, But What's Fit To Print?"  Obviously not her real name; they stick with the  ""Kristen," later identified by The Times as Ashley Alexandra Dupre" common in most stories.

Even recent articles that are actually about her, specifically (not Spitzer), like those reporting that she was in a Girls Gone Wild video when she was 17, don't give her name; they call her Ashely Alexandra Dupre.  It's worth pointing out that that name didn't even exist when she was 17.

The easy explanation is that the media are a bunch of morons who never bothered to check her real name.  That'd be wrong.  The correct explanation is that Dupre is the real name for the story they want to tell-- the story isn't about a real girl, it is about a celebrity.  Celebrity is created, not documented.

Consider a reverse example: in any news story about the arrests of Snoop Dogg, they always tell you his real name.  They revel in it: "--whose real name is Calvin Broadus." That's because the real story is that Snoop isn't who he says he is.  The tantalizing part is that he's an imposter-- an ordinary guy, with kids, a wife of a hundred years, and a real (boring) name.  That's why he has a TV show about his boring life.  And the Osbournes.  Etc. 

But you're not going to see a reality show of Youmans.  Maybe one of Dupre, but not Youmans.  The media have requested that you learn a specific reality, one that may or may not mirror reality, that isn't relevant.  What matters is that you swallow the Blue Pill, and get so dazzled by the glitter of the reality offered that you don't ask the important question.


So the meta-1 level analysis is that the media creates an identity to fit a story; they call her by her stage name because that's who they want to report on, not some New Jersey stonemason's daughter.  The media can't even be bothered to research the real story of how she came to be a high class hooker-- they rely almost exclusively on what she wrote on her MySpace page, which she likely made up.  On her Alexandra Dupre MySpace page.  Get it?

But meta-2 level analysis forces us to consider an expanded question: if they won't tell us her real name or life story, why should we believe anything they say?  More specifically, why do we think that the solid part of the story is that Spitzer was exposed, and the incidental part is Dupre?  Is it possible that Spitzer's exposure itself is incidental-- that the real story is that he was exposed? 

He's been doing this for at least 6 years-- so why now?  He's not the only guy in NY politics involved in nonsense-- why him?

I'm pretty sure we will soon learn the answers to those questions.