Guilty Pleasures – Celebrity Depositions

JohnTravoltaAn inescapable fact of modern-day life is the assault we continuously withstand from Celebrity News – and with the advent of reality television, I use the term ‘celebrity’ very, very loosely.  It’s simply not our fault that, despite a near total lack of interest, we still know way more about the private lives of Tom Cruise or John Travolta than we do about the parents of our children’s best friends.  If you have miraculously avoided this exposure, I wish to congratulate you and hope that you enjoy this evening’s 4-hour recap of Einstein’s Favorite Equations on PBS.

For most of us, however, Celebrity News is in our face and we can’t avoid it (if you even know who Kim Kardashian is, much less that she’s getting divorced, you are a victim).  For the most part, Celebrity News is nothing more than hype – nonsense created by the media to fill the ‘news’ cycle.  So most of us try to conserve brain cells and ignore it…EXCEPT when it starts to involve actual legal proceedings. 

When Celebrity News leaves rumor and innuendo behind and starts to address depositions and testimony, the temptation to actually pay attention increases.  The reasons for this shift in attitude?  First, if the issues involved rise to the level of legal action they may be important enough to merit our attention (the exceptions that prove the rule are Charlie Sheen trashing a hotel room and Lindsey Lohan violating parole, neither of which fall into the category of ‘news’ any more).

Joe PaternoSecond, we are reasonably confident that statements made under oath tend to reveal factual information even when it makes the source uncomfortable.  And when skilled attorneys and prosecutors have ‘uncomfortable facts’ to build upon, bigger pictures often begin to emerge.  A good case in point is Joe Paterno’s Grand Jury Deposition which opened the floodgates to ultimately exposing the egregious child-abuse cover-up at Penn State.   

There is of course a third, very human, reason for paying attention to legal actions involving Celebrities.  Since the very existence of depositions and testimony give us a reasonable assurance that matters are not simply hype and nonsense, we feel intellectually freer to both follow events and invest ourselves in the outcome. 

And since all these situations involve the rich and famous, our hoped-for outcomes usually involve a Celebrity crash-and-burn.  This tendency to feel a certain amount of satisfaction or pleasure in someone’s misfortune, by the way, is common enough for the Germans to have a noun for it – ‘schadenfreude’ .

Phone Hacking ScandalAll of which brings us to a final ironic twist. Rupert Murdock and his global media empire – largely built on Celebrity News of the ‘hype and nonsense’ sort – continues to be rocked by the Phone Hacking scandal in Great Britain.  Spurred by an insatiable appetite for Celebrity gossip and innuendo, Murdock’s minions appear to have crossed all the lines that define responsible journalism with a years-long campaign of illegal espionage against victims ranging from a murdered teenager to the Royal Family to movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. 

It should be noted that this scandal has already cost Murdock hundreds of millions in lost business and opportunities.  And with the criminal phase only now beginning, one thing is for sure – I’ll be following this particular bit of Celebrity News.  Schadenfreude or what?

About the Author:  Elizabeth Tice heads up Office Solutions Plus LLC, where we provide documents of record for all venues, including court reporting, depositions, public hearings, Open Meetings, and transcription of all types.  We understand the importance and value of accurate records.  617-471-3510.  Try us out.

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One Response to “Guilty Pleasures – Celebrity Depositions”

  1. Chuck Walker 07/27/2012 10:04 am #

    Very provocative, and informative.You have a wonderful flair for identifying, at least in this article, events that carry a legal and social poignancy–building and diassembling our celebrities. Thank you too for reminding us of the anathema of our our human psyche to indulge and even take pleasure in someone’s misfortune as aptly characterized your german word “schadenfreude” and watching the giants we’ve created,fall. Unfortunately we are entering a schadenfreude season–campaign for the U.S. Presidency. What’s next?

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