Gripers ask the wrong questions about JFK Jr.

July 31, 1999|By Gregory Kane

NOW THAT THE angst, agony and grieving are over, now that John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and her sister Lauren Bessette have been buried at sea, there's one last bit of business that needs addressing: taking to task those grouches who complained about the news coverage.

You know who you are. You're the ones who waxed churlish about the "excessive" media reporting of the crash of JFK Jr.'s plane, the search for the bodies and the subsequent burials and memorial services. You're the ones that called the assorted media outlets and complained, at length, not to editors and policy-makers who are responsible for such decisions, but to folks who weren't involved in the process at all.Oh, how you ranted. Oh, how you raved. Oh, how you bored us, frustrated us, infuriated us and left us hoping that someone would break into your houses and slap masking tape over your mouths.

You asked all the wrong questions. One caller to The Sun wanted to know what JFK Jr. had done to warrant all the coverage of his death. Wrong question. The right one should have been why the death of James Farmer -- the founder of the Congress of Racial Equality and a giant of the civil rights movement from the 1940s until the 1960s -- didn't receive coverage on a par with that of JFK Jr. and the Bessette sisters.

Farmer died about two weeks before JFK Jr. Farmer, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights figures forced white Americans to look in the mirror, confront their evil side and change. In that regard, Farmer did more than JFK Jr., his father, President Kennedy, and uncle Robert F. Kennedy. The latter two had to be dragged kicking and screaming into America's 1960s struggle for human rights.

But you never asked that question, probably because you haven't the faintest idea who James Farmer was.

Another cogent question would have been why President Clinton had the Coast Guard pick up the cost of retrieving the bodies when families with far fewer bucks than the Kennedys would have had to foot their bill.

The Kennedys aren't exactly hurting for money. It's a good bet they've never had to eat Spam, poor folks' filet mignon. The free ride was justified on the basis of the service that the Kennedys, as a family, have performed for the country. Fair enough. But should they get extra consideration not given to the working-class families of those men and women who served in Desert Storm, Panama, Vietnam, Korea and the Big One? All of them served the country, too.

But you never asked that one, either. You just whined and moaned about the media obsession with celebrity. You may have been on to something, but again for the wrong reason.

Let's just get rid of the potatoes and gravy and go right to the meat, shall we? Let's be as brutally honest about this as possible. Take a good look at any picture, film or videotape of JFK Jr. Good-looking guy, huh? And that's understating the matter. In fact, there are plenty of good-looking guys. But then there was JFK Jr., who stood alone when it comes to good looks.

"Because he was a hunk, that's why I cared," one woman confessed. Thank you, madam, for giving us a much-needed reality check. But again, there's a bit of understatement there. Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise are hunks. JFK Jr. was in a class by himself.

Now you grousers take a good look in the mirror. You're guys, right? And ugly guys at that. And not just ordinary ugly. I'm talking "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi" kind of ugly. I'm talking ugly so awful you couldn't have gotten a pity date from Mother Teresa.

Listen, trolls. Everybody knows television programming is geared toward women between the ages of 18 and 35. And any woman in that age group would be lying if she said her heart didn't go even slightly aflutter at the sight of JFK Jr. Is it right for a society to be so obsessed with good looks? Probably not. We should value character, integrity and intellect more.

But as the noted wit and sage Joan Rivers has noted, no guy ever went up a girl's dress looking for her library card. Marilyn Monroe didn't become a sex symbol based on her erudition about the plays of William Shakespeare. And no woman ever looked at JFK Jr. and said to herself, "Boy, I'll bet he's really good at solving differential equations."

So, trolls, the most basic answer to the question of why the media gave "excessive" coverage to JFK Jr.'s death is simple: He looked damn good. You don't.

Any more questions?

Pub Date: 07/31/99

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