I recently watched a segment on one of CNN's many shows that are indistinguishable from the rest of its daily line up in which the topic was Ashley Smith, the woman who was able to survive being kidnapped by the Atlanta courthouse shooter, Brian Nichols. Now this segment wasn't as mundane as to praise Ms. Smith for her bravery or calm in the face of such trauma. No, CNN was actually progressive enough to suggest that this average woman, whom none would even think to call a celebrity, at least not in the traditional (read: common) sense, was in danger of succumbing to that fateful killer of human interest causes: media overexposure.
CNN went on to examine just what causes a person like Ashley Smith to fall victim to media overexposure. Apparently, CNN failed to see the irony in exploring such a topic. Fortunately, I did not.
So here, I have decided to expand on CNN's hard-hitting newsreporting regarding such a terrible fate as media overexposure by providing a brief guide of some key factors that may indicate a person, such as Terry Schiavo is dangerously over-exposed:
1. Public scrutiny of private life: The das machina du media has a tendency to dig up and expose some tawdry, scandalous or questionable detail(s) of a person's past, thereby tainting or even totally derailing whatever positive view of a person the public might have towards a hero, or further stoking the fire of negative sentiment the public might have towards an already scandalized individual.
2. Private scrutiny of public life: An infamous person may suffer a serious backlash in their personal life that may affect their standing in small social circles, their family, their professional life or in the community as a whole. If they're lucky, they may get to experience all of the above!
3. Making the rounds on the talk show circuit: There are certain shows that are an absolute must - Oprah, Letterman, The Daily Show. There are some that require careful consideration before the potentially over-exposed commit - Leno, Jerry Springer, Larry King. Obviously, one should avoid Dr. Phil at all costs, 'cause he'll dress you down real proper-like.
4. Appearing on a make-over show, getting breast implants, posing for photos at a movie or television premiere/party/awards show: Inter-mingling your pedestrian happenstance celebrity with the godly creatures of Hollywood and their powerful, cherished and well-deserved celebrity is never a good idea. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of John Revolta and the Belush, however, will create great comedic juxtaposition.
5. Getting dissed on People Magazine's worst-dressed list: This is a major blow to credibility. One doesn't want their wardrobe to garner a lot of attention, one way or the other. However, one should be bold enough to make a statement, but subtle enough not to over-do it. I find that a sense of personal elegance or the calculated-casual look works wonders.
6. Dating/getting engaged to Tommy Lee/J. Lo/Winona Ryder AND/OR hanging out with Courtney Love: You're on your own if you dare to make time with media whores. This is not helping your cause out at all.
7. Carefully constructed and staged public-relations stunts for the purpose of regaining some legitimacy in the eyes of the woefully short-sighted and painfully semi-retarded mainstream of America: Includes saving a little girl from a car accident that nobody saw, making a large donation to the dim-witted marionette Texas politician of your choice, appearing in mid-western high schools as a lecturer railing against/rallying for whatever it was you did right or wrong in the first place.
8. The appearance of a sex tape that you "knew nothing about" and from which you stand to gain no residual benefits whatsoever...honestly!: This one is pretty much self-explanatory. It depends on how graphic the sex is on the tape and how sexually desirable you are to the internet-perv public. Extra-points if the tape sees a DVD release. Double-extra points if there is a premiere party celebrating the release of said DVD and you show up.
9. Marching in a protest parade/making a political statement on behalf of an organization/stumping for fringe religions like Scientology: Nothing ruins credibility faster than trying to gain credibility from things that have no credibility in the first place and for which you have no credibility to be attempting to gain credibility from anyway.
10. Appearing on a reality show alongside other fallen and forgotten sadsack celebrities: This pretty much seals the deal, unless you can somehow miraculously make yourself the most ridiculously idiosyncratic, hopelessly dramatic or notoriously difficult person on the show, which is nearly impossible, considering the stiff competition.
If the now potentially "un-famous" finds himself in danger of being overexposed, he should consider relocating and going "off the grid" for an indefinite cooling-off period. Prime locales include Montana and Eastern Europe, preferably one of the former Soviet countries. Some side benefits include: becoming part of the local scenery and eventually part of the local lore as people will look in your direction and whisper, but only periodically approach you because you are now considered freakish and potentially dangerous. Eventually, you will experience yet another fleeting moment of fame when a popular culture magazine runs a "Where Are They Now" segment and they come to cover you living a "normal life in a normal town."