Morning folks, I thought we might start the day off with a little discussion of Hookergate, co-starring Ashley Dupre and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
You may recall that Spitzer's political career came to a grinding halt, and he was forced to resign last spring, when it came out that he had been paying several thousand dollars an hour to hook up with Ms. Dupre.
By the way Trick Turner has absolutely no relevance to this discussion. I just wrote that down 'cause I've always thought it would be a cool stage name for a porn star or, um, a trick turner. And did you know there is a Hookergate School in the UK? I wonder what their mascot is.
But I digress. I was struck in a bad way this morning by news that Ms. Dupre has yet another interview scheduled - next up with Diane Sawyer for ABC's 20/20 news magazine - on the media tour she's undertaken over the past week or so.
When this edition of Hookergate first erupted in March, Dupre was unapologetic, not at all a disciple of the takes-two-to-tango school of thought, essentially suggesting that Spitzer was the lone culprit in that mess, and insisting that she was merely an impressionable young pawn ripped from the gritty 'hood, and earning
a buck several thousand bucks the only way she knew how.
Later, it was learned that her rough, gritty, childhood was about as real as the biography that Vanilla Ice sold us back in the day of him coming from the mean streets of Miami, as opposed to the Dallas, Texas, 'burbs. Dupre had actually come from a relatively well off family and by most credible accounts had been a well cared for child.
So with that revelation in mind, here's why her media tour, which I'm guessing will lead to a book deal and/or an original movie on the Lifetime Network, bugs the crap outta me: It's not really redemption if you were never in those dire straights.
I get that trading sex for dollars means you've fallen pretty low. But I'm saying unlike a lot of people who find themselves there, Dupre had pretty solid means to avoid that life but chose it anyway.
I'm a reasonable guy, open-minded to the extent I really do believe that people deserve second (and third, and fourth, and many more chances) to redeem themselves and become productive, non-toxic members of society.
There are times I see people who've done bad things, ranging from distasteful to seriously criminal. And my immediate reaction tends to be screw 'em. They brought it on themselves. But it's inevitable that my tone softens and my role goes from critic to cheerleader if, for example, I learn later that the guy who was caught stealing $100 worth of groceries has five hungry kids at home and is unemployed due to injury. His act was wrong and technically criminal, but under the circumstances I understood it. That coupled with his apparent remorse compels me to endorse a helping hand up for him.
And then there's the drug addict with whom I'm annoyed for lacking self control, until I learn she became addicted as an impressionable 10-year-old who accepted a free sample from a sidewalk pharmacist in her neighborhood.
So giving bad actors a spotlight and opening a door for them that leads to potential fame and income is not a bad thing in and of itself. Seriously, rewarding people who turn tricks, solicit trick turners, slide down poles without the benefit of being fire fighters, deal drugs, etc., can be just fine. I write about people like that all the time. If you didn't see it yesterday here's my latest
shameles self promotion article on such a person.
The difference in these people and folks like Ashley Dupre is that her ilk has the means early in life to do the right thing, and lacks the incentive to do desperate things. They don't grow up in trouble, get immersed deeper in it as they grow into adulthood and then struggle their way out. Nor do they work hard and earn big fame, fall from grace, and scrap their way back from the fall.
They grow up with support systems and decent family, voluntarily shun those support systems, willingly seek out trouble, get busted while engaged in trouble, and then do media tours and offer formulaic apologies - in Dupre's case to Spitzer's wife - not for redemptive purposes but as a precursor to the fame they hope will fall into their laps. But hey, fame in your lap is probably safer than a paid-by-the-hour set of genitals in your lap.
You know how they say that one vote counts? Well, so does one viewer. And as much as I enjoy 20/20, I won't be watching this Friday...not that ABC will care, mind you, but you get the picture.