Out & About

It's possible that a sense of humor has joined common sense on the endangered species list of American foibles. Not that anybody's noticed, mind you, but when a pair of wise-cracking DJs get canned for a practical joke--and not a very original one at that--well, it may be time to take stock of national priorities.

Of course, here's a case that shows both common sense and a sense of humor are in short supply. When Kramer and Twitch--named the best reason to listen to KEGL-FM (97.1) by this very publication in 1999--joked that a car accident had killed Britney Spears and her 'N Sync boyfriend Justin Timberlake last month, they should've known they were playing with fire. The teen pop diva is more popular than God--just ask the Lycos 50 for 2000, a year-end ranking of the most frequently requested search terms. "Britney Spears" topped the rankings, climbing from her 1999 No. 2 spot. ('N Sync clocked in at No. 5.) And proclaiming God's death has never been a good career move, though Nietzsche may beg to differ.

Granted, wishing Britney harm is nothing new. Women--especially young women--who succeed smashingly in pop-cult America have always been under attack. In fact, one of the Web's many witty (if juvenile) culture critics created a CNN rip-off page last December that proclaimed that both Britney and 'N Sync perished in an accident caused by Spears performing a sexual act upon the driving Timberlake. (Said Webmaster had to be a boy.)

But why harm squeaky-clean Justin? Wimpy boys in America never get their proverbial due. (Woody Allen, your life is calling.) Sure, he and his 'N Sync bandmates craft the sort of danceable pop confection that is about as sturdy as balsa wood. But is there anything more criminal about 'N Sync's synth pop that fey '80s new wave didn't commit already? In fact, 'N Sync's hair and wardrobe choices are a tad less ill-advised than the likes of A Flock of Seagulls. Perhaps the vindictiveness against Justin is due to the fact that he, unlike every other man-child in America, is in the position to have his cake and Britney, too.

Of course, now, the boys' stock is currently falling like an online magazine. Currently Britney clocks in at No. 3 behind "Christmas" and "Dragonball" on Lycos' weekly rankings, while 'N Sync has fallen to No. 30, behind the likes of (gasp) Al Gore. Fortunately, Jive Records has shrewdly overlapped the boys' summer tour with the release of their new album, Celebrity, due out later this month, which may be the push the boys need to land them back in the highlife again. Whether or not Celebrity can duplicate No Strings Attached's record-setting opening week is anyone's guess. But at least it'll be a distraction from recent media rumors, and we can all start thinking about those other practical jokes that have been perpetrated on the public--like Pauly Shore's career and the 2000 presidential election.

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Bret Mccabe