Thursday, November 9, 2006
Occam's Razor (or, How I Will Attempt to Connect: A Medieval Philosophy, Celebrity Jeopardy, and Nicole Ritchie)
" All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one." ~Occam's Razor Those of you who know me know that I am a major fan of Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy sketches. One of my favorite exchanges therein goes as follows: Alex Trebek: How about "Show and Tell" for $600? I'll just show you an object, and you'll tell me what it is, okay? Sean Connery: It's a man with a mustache! Alex Trebek: No, Mr. Connery, I am not the object. I haven't shown it to you yet. Here it is. [Holds up a hammer] Name this object! [Minnie Driver buzzes in] Minnie Driver: It's a popsicle! Alex Trebek: No! [Jeff Goldblum buzzes in] Jeff Goldblum, name this object. Jeff Goldblum: Yes. Uh, thank you. That's a...uh…a whadyacallit, when you…umm…when you... when you punished criminals in…uh...days of yore. It was a... And you'd put them in the…uh...the square in those…you know…uh… Alex Trebek: You mean in the stocks, or a pillory? Jeff Goldblum: Yes, exactly! [Timer sounds] Alex Trebek: It's a friggin' hammer! Where am I going with this, exactly? Something about the absurdity of that scene resonated with me, and very comically parallels something I've observed. Lately, there is an ongoing media obsession with, among other disturbing things, Nicole Ritchie's weight. (No, wait! Don't leave! I promise I'll tie it all together!) Now, this isn't about her, per se. Rather, what I find so funny is the frantic and desperate scramble by the media to blame her skeletal frame on anything but an (alleged) eating disorder. I know, I know, she said she doesn't have one, she's naturally thin, she devoured an entire buffalo herd just last night, etc. But let's review, shall we? Before and After... The girl was previously healthy sized (and in no way fat); and she is now emaciated. Sad, sure; but not really news. Yet, the media covers it incessantly. What I have a hard time understanding is if they choose to do that, why they then tiptoe around the very issue they're covering. Why does it have to be, in the words of OK, US, and every other crappy magazine I (ashamedly) read, a "mystery disease," blood disorder, or cancer (and yes, some of them are actually saying that)? Why are they claiming that specialists are needed to discover the inscrutable reason for her weight loss? When my car runs low on gas, it's because I didn't fill it up. I don't go around blaming the situation on a mischievous fuel-loving leprechaun named Butterscotch O'Flannigan (though he is sneaky...). Sometimes, the facts just speak for themselves, for good or for bad. And so, when the press is looking at what is, for all intents and purposes, a friggin' hammer, it would be cool if they would identify it as such, and not, in the immortal words of fake Minnie Driver, a popsicle.