The journalist Dan Rather wrote that Ms. White had been beloved because she “embraced a life well lived.”
“Her smile,” he wrote. “Her sense of humor. Her basic decency. Our world would be better if more followed her example. It is diminished with her passing.”
What is this shit?
First of all, Dan Rather hasn’t been a real “journalist”– someone who actually investigates, researches and reports on a news story– for several decades. Secondly, “basic decency”? “Life well-lived”? Well, that’s what you say, I guess, when you can’t really list any achievements that don’t sound trite.
Betty White died yesterday, at 99. The New York Times says:
“A cultural icon”: Television stars, comedians, a president and seemingly the whole internet paid tribute to Betty White.
Really? Will no one speak up for those who have real achievements but will join Betty in the dumpster of useless Hollywood has-beens because even the New York Times thought Betty White was something? “James Baldwin died– he lived a life well-lived.” “Richard Nixon died– another life well-lived.” “Leonard Cohen died. Yet another life well-lived”. I could go on. And on. And on.
I would say that I racked my brain trying to think of a single distinguished achievement by Betty White but I didn’t even bother. Even her fans have to admit that she has not a single notable achievement in her resume. Not a single great movie role. Not a single great achievement behind the camera. And a long list of mediocre television appearance. I’m sure you are baffled: then how did she get to be so famous?
We have all been bombarded with this “Betty White is so great, so funny, so cute” bullshit that it would have been impossible to avoid. The truth is that Betty White was never anything more than a boring “celebrity” in the most bankrupt definition of the term: someone without any real achievements who is famous for being famous. That’s why she was added to the cast of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (she was also a personal friend of the star of the show) and that’s why she got a role in “Golden Girls”.
Betty White broke barriers, defied expectations, served her country, and pushed us all to laugh. (Michelle Obama on Twitter).
Broke barriers? Which barrier was that? The one that prevents privileged ambitious attractive young women with connections from getting onto TV in trivial inconsequential roles and than leveraging their exposure into trite game show gigs and then leveraging that into a sitcom gig– because your friend, the star of the sitcom, gave it to you?
Or that tremendous barrier against old people being hilariously interested in sex?
She was famous. For being famous. A reassuring porridge of unthreatening pabulum for the American public–mostly women– to consume without fear of the slightest disturbing vibration. Nobody regarded her as a serious enough talent to give her a substantial role. TV-land, lady.
What was she famous for? Take a close look. Not a single damn thing. Quick– name the movie that catapulted her to stardom? Of course you can’t: she didn’t star in a single notable movie.
You have to accept that she got her “big” television roles because she was a celebrity, which counts as nothing. She didn’t blow people away with an audition. She didn’t sell people on the part. She was a comforting, familiar face to tv viewers. TV Viewers are idiots: they decide what to watch based on which overly familiar celebrity is in the cast. That’s why Bill Cosby was a success. That’s why there was never an inter-racial dating on the Bill Cosby show. That’s why there was Bill Cosby: you get the celebrity you deserve.
So how did she get that “celebrity” status? By leveraging small, insignificant roles in radio and tv into guest appearances on that stream of sewage we call television game shows. From her over-exposure on the game shows, celebritydom. From celebritydom, casting decisions, as well as her personal friendship with Mary Tyler Moore.
Game shows were her specialty: She appeared on “To Tell the Truth,” “I’ve Got a Secret,” “The Match Game,” “What’s My Line?” and, most notably, “Password,” whose host, Allen Ludden, she married in 1963.
That’s it. That’s the talent reservoir of the “beloved” Betty White, an actress I personally found so annoying I would change the channel the instant I saw her face in whatever it was was on. Her face there was an iron-clad guarantee that whatever you were watching would be derivative, repetitive, dull, and ugly. The kind of humor popularized by Carol Burnett and Red Skeleton,
Everyone I know loves her. They seem to believe she had a long list of real achievements to her career. Creating a monotonously one-note character of repetitive gesture and catch-phrase in a TV sitcom is not an achievement. It’s vulgar and boring. Starring as the most cliche-ridden character in the entire history of popular culture: the feisty old lady– in “The Proposal”– itself an incredibly boring predictable stew of insipidness– counts against you.
And nothing was more boring on television than an aging female star making tiresome jokes about sex.
“Oh my God! Betty White! She’s so funny. I just love her.”
Stunningly, The Screen Actors Guild gave her a lifetime achievement award in 2010. What the fuck!? Do you not even have to have a single real achievement to win this award? Not one?
If you have a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award you might as well toss it in the dumpster: it obviously is not earned by any actual remarkable achievement.
The comedian Bob Saget called Ms. White “a remarkable talent” who was witty, kind, funny and “full of love,” especially for her husband.
Bob Saget is a comedian?
Well, he is the most appropriate person to pay tribute to Ms. White: no other male tv personality matches his degree of vacuous charmlessness.
The shame of it is we already have a veritable river of shallow celebrity worshippers streaming their effuse adulation of this incredibly trite person– why could the New York Times not reserve it’s accolades for people with real achievements? Leave us one media source that doesn’t by into this shit.