My latest NPR adventure: As anti-bullying messages abound in media, reality TV rewards it
You can't turn on a TV these days without seeing a public service message or news story decrying out-of-control bullying.
The latest case, involving 68-year-old New York school bus monitor Karen Klein, blanketed morning newscasts today, as video of middle school students taunting her into tears produced a national backlash.
But the fact is, there are other areas of media where the message isn't so consistent; where bullying wins fat paychecks, lots of fame, unimagined career opportunities and a coterie of sycophants willing to apologize for any douchey move you make.
My producer at NPR suggested a commentary piece on how talk about bullying has become so ubiquitous we don't seem to hear it anymore.
I realized the irony of seeing the actors on Glee decry bullying in one evening on Fox, only to see the network air a show starring one of the biggest bullies in reality TV -- bombastic chef Gordon Ramsey -- the next night.
One example a bit too marginal to make it into the story involved the Material Girl herself, Madonna. She once told celebrity pal Ellen DeGeneres how much she hates bullying in a sort of public service message on DeGeneres' talk show.
But when dealing with rival diva Lady Gaga, Madge wasn't so charitable. Reportedly she encouraged fans to yell “she’s not me” during a show where she implied Gaga had ripped off one of her old hits.
Bearing in mind that Madonna earned her first platinum record before Gaga was born, seemed a bit extreme to me.
Gaga herself seemed to compare Madonna’s antics to bullying in a recent concert. (skip to the 2:26 mark if you click through).
So even as big names encourage kids not to bully, the belie their own words by using such tactics to earn money, power and fame as adults.
I thought it turned into a great commentary; decide for yourself by listening to it below.