In the latest Jolt, an examination of why the lingering media attention for Levi Johnston is bad for everyone . . . most of all Levi Johnston.
Look, I realize Palin-haters helped him covert his fifteen minutes of fame into fifteen months at the celebrity currency exchange window. But I think at this point, my biggest gripe with this Lohanesque soap opera is the media’s perpetual willingness to help him postpone his rendezvous with the rest of his life.
Johnston is 20. You figure Bristol Palin was not the only girl he was ever interested in during his high school years. This guy managed to impregnate the daughter of the governor months before she was the surprise pick for vice president. I’m sure Levi curses his luck every night, and asks why he didn’t hit on the other cute girl in his freshman class. He hasn’t finished high school. Yet, because of his willingness to say nasty things about his ex-girlfriend’s mother, he has appeared on the Tyra Banks show, he was the subject of a big glossy profile in Vanity Fair, Playgirl paid him to pose nude, and Kathy Griffin is trying to make him more overexposed than Lady Gaga. In 2009, he made more than $100,000. (Perhaps the one true economic success story of the Obama era.)
Now, when I was 19 or 20, I evaded responsibility as inventively and relentlessly as Richard Kimble evaded the cops in The Fugitive. If you offer a young man the chance to live the high life in Hollywood, hanging around the talk shows of former Victoria’s Secret models and making six figures instead of finishing his education, getting a real job and figuring out how to pay child support . . . well, it’s not stunning that he would chase the fame and fortune, no matter how fleeting or illusory.
Right now, every media entity that says, “oh, alright, let’s have him on for one last round of Palin-bashing,” is enabling this Peter Pan syndrome. So what is it going to take to get the producers of the CBS Early Show and the reporters for the Associated Press to see the latest announcement from Johnston and respond, “Eh, you know . . . this just isn’t news. Isn’t there some photogenic moppet stuck in a well somewhere?” (Yes, journalists are this cynical.)