Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Media: The failures of HBO and NPR

Things don't always mean what they say -- as both HBO and NPR have recently made clear.


We were hoping, with regards to HBO, that someone else would grab the issue and make the point. But no one has. We were hoping that because TINA is a documentary about Tina who we both know and one of us (C.I.) has known her since the end of the 60s.

It can be hard to write about someone you know. You might, for example, pull punches. As too many can attest, that's not really been a problem for us. In terms of Tina, do think we can be fair. In terms of HBO, maybe we can't?

HBO has promoted the documentary about the legendary Queen of Rock and Roll as being different than other vehicles -- such as the film WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT in which Angela Bassett portrayed Tina and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in the process. HBO's documentary, the hype insisted and the so-called 'critics' repeated -- was rescuing the story. TINA was going to be a fully shaped documentary that was about so much more than her former husband Ike Turner terrorizing her.

Ike Turner, for those late to the party, died in 2007 and we noted it here:


We noted it because some pig boys were glorifying him and some were saying that surely Tina forgave him or that she needed to forgive him. No, she didn't.

We allowed that people could discuss the art of a person and set aside the personal life. But these weren't musical discussions. It was instead an attempt at shaming Tina into making some sort of an 'all is forgiven' statement. A lot of it had to do with hatred of women -- as was evidenced by Phil Spector ripping Tina apart at Ike's funeral -- a funeral he attended between murder trials. Like Ike, Phil abused women -- Lana Clarkson was his latest victim t the time and the one that got him sent to prison.

Tina attracted a lot of hate from men. TINA documents how an EMI executive referred to Tina as the n-word before her breakout success. It doesn't say one word about John Fogerty.


Are we not supposed to go there?

See that's what we always do, go where we're not supposed to go. It was so interesting to us to hear Fogerty pontificating in 2020 about Trump and racism because, for us, he'll forever be the guy who spent the mid-80s over and over using the n-word to describe Tina. He wasn't shy around the press. He'd usually blame it on another male artist and say that the other male artist stated that John was letting that n-word take away his song ("Proud Mary"). He thought it was cute. He thought it was funny.

No, it wasn't just some anonymous music exec, it was also her peer group.

Tina left the United States. She set up her home in Switzerland in 1994 and she became a citizen there in 2013. The documentary could have been about what drove her to do that -- what had driven so many US artists overseas -- Josephine Baker and Nina Simone to cite but two. They could have talked to -- and why didn't they -- PP Arnold. Not only did the US Arnold move to Europe, she did so with The Ike and Tina Revue -- she was an Ikette. PP could talk at length about the differences she found -- as an African-American woman between the way she was treated in the UK versus the US. TINA could have been about what drove Tina to a new country and about the peace she found there -- peace and happiness and love. Things we all deserve, especially if you have suffered the way Tina has.

That would have made for an interesting documentary and one that sounded like what p.r. and 'critics' insisted HBO was delivering. But that's not what we got.

The abuse, the terrorism, that Tina suffered at the hands of Ike is a major part of Tina's story. But it can be an element of the story. TINA made it the whole story while pretending otherwise.

The Ike and Tina story is bungled because it basically is nothing other than "Fool For Your Love," "River Deep Mountain Hight," they toured and he was abusive. None of her work during these years is really noted and this includes her first film acting role -- in TOMMY.

Her art also suffers when they finally arrived at 1984 and the emergence of Tina as a solo star. 43. That's the number, 43. Tina is an international artist whose music belongs to the world. 43 is the number of hit singles she's had from 1984 to the present -- 43 songs went top fifty in one country or another. Are viewers left with that impression? Not at all.

It's a rich and varied career. And, as a solo artist, she found success collaborating with Mick Jagger (Live Aid), David Bowie ("Tonight"), Rod Stewart ("It Takes Two"), Bryan Adams ("It's Only Love"), Robert Cray ("634-5789"), Eric Clapton ("Tearing Us Apart"), Sting ("On Silent Wings"), Barry White ("In Your Wildest Dreams"), Bono and The Edge ("Goldeneye") -- among others. It's not really noted in the film.

Time and again, they repeat that Tina hoped a PEOPLE magazine article before PRIVATE DANCER would put the issue of Ike to rest. Before the interview, she was constantly being asked how Ike was, would they work together again, did she still talk to him. That's why she told the story about abuse, to get people to grasp that their well meaning questions were upsetting to her. But that's not how it ended up. PRIVATE DANCER became a huge hit in 1984 and she was asked now about the abuse. Over and over. In interview after interview. It was upsetting. and Roger Davies, her manager, suggested she team with ROLLING STONE journalist Kurt Loder to write her story. This, Kurt hope, would beat off some cheap, cobbled together books about Tina. This, Tina hoped, would be the end of having to address the topic.

But in life, that didn't happen and, in the documentary that doesn't happen.

43 hits. Multiple gold and platinum albums all over the world. Were was that realization? Where did they note DIVAS LIVE '99?

Tina didn't just become a star, she became bigger than she ever had been and was the face of rock for women. During the 80s, 90s and '00s, there was Tina, there were the Wilson sisters of Heart, there was Stevie Nicks and very few others. A lot of women did pop. A lot did AC. But for that period, in terms of rocking and racking up hits, it really was just those four women. The documentary made no effort to provide that context, no effort at all to place Tina within her peer group.

Having short changed her art, the documentary could have at least explored her relationship. They wouldn't have had to dig new ground. In 2018, Tina's MY LOVE STORY was published. Tina met Erwin Bach in 1986 and they began a relationship. They married in 2013 and are still together. 35 years together, that's a long lasting relationship and a happy one to hear both tell it. Viewers would have been better served to have heard more from Tina and Erwin.

In our favorite Tina song from PRIVATE DANCER ("I Might Have Been Queen"), Tina sings, "I'm a soul survivor." We love the song because of the bravery, the passion and the way Tina scaled the audio landscape. But she's more than that and this more than quality is what the HBO special misses.

Yes, Tina is a survivor. More than that, she is a thriver. Her life is about more than surviving hard knocks, it's about pushing back and finding a path to happiness.


What is NPR about?  We have to wonder.  They aired a ridiculous interview with US President Joe Biden's son Hunter -- strap-on Hunter who had a stripper run out of a strip club to buy a dildo (a clean one was needed) to use on him in the club, dead-beat Hunter who refused to pay child support for the son he had with an exotic dancer until the court ordered him to, crack-head Hunter who was kicked out of the military while his father was Vice President -- kicked out for his drug use, creepy Hunter who shacked up with his brother's wife months after his brother died, perv Hunter whose actions around a young teenage girl led the girl's mother to complain to Jill Biden and threaten to call the police if Hunter didn't leave her daughter alone, Corrupt Hunter who held positions he wasn't qualified, Wasteful Hunter who pissed it all away on drugs and prostitutes according to court documents . . . so much to cover yet Ron Elving couldn't find any of it.


Many have weighed in on that aspect of the interview -- what wasn't explored seriously -- and no one did that better than Jonathan Turley

But we had a serious problem with the interview and kept waiting for someone to note the huge journalistic problem.  See, this isn't 2002 or 1992.  This is when we're supposed to trust the media, to trust research, to trust science.

So why the hell did we get Ron Elving lying on the air?

Hunter was apparently using drugs as late as last year.  He's trying to sell his (latest) recovery as news to promote the bad book that four ghost-writers worked on (shall we name them because we can).  He can do whatever he wants, he's a noted liar.

But Ron Elving is supposed to be a journalist and supposedly NPR wants the truth.

So why the hell did Ron's story portray Hunter's 'recovery' as "the love of a good woman."

That's not science.  That's not even treatment aware.  Reality, a drug addict trying to recover shouldn't be getting into a new relationship.  Hunter's latest wife, who he knew for a few weeks before he married her last year, was one of fifteen women he slept with from the end of 2019 through their marriage in 2020.  He's a sex addict so he especially shouldn't have been entering any new relationships while trying to recover.

Time and again, we see this lie populated by the media -- the love of a good woman cures the drug addiction.  In the 70s, the press told us Cher cured Gregg Allman's drug addiction and Carly Simon cured James Taylor's drug addiction.  We know better today.  We know that's co-dependency and many other things, but it's not a cure or even a successful treatment.

Shame on NPR, as this country is hopefully emerging from the opioid crisis, for telling every listener that drug addiction can be cured with love.  No, the addict has to address the real issue and has to do real work.  What NPR preached goes completely against every known reality.  

Ron whored for Hunter and, in the process, betrayed the listeners.


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