Wednesday, July 17, 2002
How Quickly They Turn
What was it -- just a few weeks ago -- that you couldn't turn on the teevee or bring up a randomly-selected major or minor media outlet's web page without reading something warm and glowing about burnt-out babbling rocker Ozzy Osbourne? It was a big Ozzy lovefest, especially among M-TV executives and Viacom stockholders, but also seemingly extending into the political leadership of The Republic. Oz upstaged the President at some political dinner or something (forgive me if I didn't get every last detail of that important occurance right). Dan Quayle sucked in some media attention for himself -- or some media types sucked Dan Quayle in for some humor factor -- by commenting on Ozzy as role model vs. (of course) fictional character Murphy Brown.
How quickly they turn on you, especially after you get a new high-paying contract.
Neither this piece, which appeared in The New York Times a day or so ago, nor this piece currently on Salon's web site paints a glowing portrait of the loveable clown. The NYT piece has the somewhat pretentious theme that Ozzy is the looney boomer parent that has to be indulged and taken care of by a later, more responsible, generation.
Who was this crowd? Most teenagers attending Ozzfest last week had cell phones to connect them quickly to their family and friends, whereas back in the 70's Black Sabbath cultivated the sort of fan who was alienated far beyond a roam signal. The Scranton crowd was full of people who had things to do in their lives. Mr. Osbourne, working his usual shtick, hectored them to go crazy. It was so obviously silly, not just because it's what he always says, but because one would be ejected by the security force for going crazy. In this way, Mr. Osbourne forced his fans to take the parental role: to indulge him. They weren't lost, and this was not a concert promising salvation through bad behavior.The Salon piece is more about how, ultimately, it's not cool to laugh at Ozzy just because he's a freaking mess.
...[T]here is something distasteful about the show goading us to mock him, while nary a word is ever said about his very real musical accomplishments. Would we want to visit a blues great in the old-age home and chuckle as he gums his oatmeal, or stop by a rehab facility to laugh at a jazz giant as he tries to kick his junk problem? Why don't we just drop in on Syd Barrett or put a sandbox in Brian Wilson's front yard and laugh at them for a while? Goofing on Oz is hardly any better.
It'll be interesting to see how another season of "The Osbournes" really plays out. I'd put my money on its not having long enough legs to last that long. M-TV is likely going to find themselves holding onto a dog of a show. I could be wrong about that, though, and, to hedge that bet, I'd also not be surprised to see "Brian Wilson's Sandbox" or "Syd Barrett's Psycho Ward" airing somewhere within the next year or two.