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Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin and predictable news

By Alexandra Petri

Forget the news cycle. This is the old news cycle. Sharks are terrorizing swimmers, just in time for the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. NFL sources say that Brett Favre is retiring. (Based on his performance in the quarterfinals last year, I assumed he'd already retired, but there you go.) And Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin have called it quits, again.

"He's just obsessed with the limelight," Palin confided to People magazine.

Make that two of you.

“I got played,” she added.

Make that three hundred million of us -- give or take the three sensible people who know better than to follow this sort of thing and those who live in areas without reliable WiFi.

But after all this talk of Chelsea Clinton’s happy nuptials, Americans were probably about ready for stories of break-ups and betrayals.

Someone wise once noted that religion is an effort to impose ritual time, circular and seasonal, on linear time. Cult figures and gods rose and fell with the seasons -- from Persephone to Dionysus to Jesus. Every year, history -- duly and reassuringly -- repeated itself. The sun rose, the sun set, the leaves turned various colors, and the cycle began again. We were getting older and changing, but our gods remained the same, constant in their fickleness or in their constancy.

Our religion of celebrity-worship falls right into the pattern. Larger-than-life figures supply us with the same comfortable narratives, over and over again. Rumors that Brad and Jen are back together? Must be April. Brad and Angie stronger than before? Yup, it's November. Bristol and Levi have figured out their place in the cycle. Next summer -- mark my words -- they'll be back together.

Along with Brett Favre and the sharks.

By Alexandra Petri  | August 3, 2010; 5:47 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Next: 'I got played' by Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston


Played? We all got played. Don’t worry Bristol, we’ll slaughter the cows moseying in our next door neighbor’s front lawn and say a sacrificial prayer for you. Oh the wretched tears…

Posted by: zoezoe123 | August 4, 2010 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Look WaPo why don’t you just spare us and leave Bristol and Levi in fact the whole Palin saga factory, to the pages of Trailer Trash Monthly were they belong. If people are Jonesing for a Palin fix there’s always the tabloids in the Super Market check out lines right next to the story of the two headed “Space Alien anchor baby”.

Posted by: notthatdum | August 4, 2010 3:25 AM | Report abuse

A clue - if there is anyone in the story named Palin, its not news, its not newsworthy, they are just people struggling
in a world where their wherewithal to struggle is woefully inadequate. Its like watching a trainwreck, and its not news.

Posted by: dutchess2 | August 4, 2010 5:06 AM | Report abuse

The Palin clan's constant manufactured drama is designed to keep them in the media. It's no different, and no more important, than Snooki's disorderly conduct arrest or Heidi Montag's plastic surgery. Of course Snooki and Heidi don't claim to offer anything beyond entertainment while Sarah Palin is a front for the most cynical, reactionary bad actors on the world stage and they hope to land their stooge in the White House.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | August 4, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Don't like Palin? Cool.

Attach her kids?

Low life, journolist prig!

Posted by: TECWRITE | August 4, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Writers, and I use that term in the broadest sense in your case, used to be critiqued and criticized by saying what they wrote wasn't worth the paper is was written on. Given the use of computers today instead of paper, I guess the correct comment would have something to do with the waste of electricity.

If you were a lawyer, we'd be talking about a baseless lawsuit. If a medical provider, unnecessary medical treatment. A used car salesman, well, I don't want to demean them with a comparison with you and your type of so called journalism. Wtih all the injustice that is going on in the world today, you pick on these young people and try to make some type of statement with a bottom feeding story. Shame on you, your editor, your publication, and your vocation as it is no longer worthy of being called a profession.

And that's just how I feel about it.

Posted by: IGotAComment | August 4, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The continuing saga of the Palins is mainly interesting in the general context of our celebrity fixation - as opposed to people that actually DO something!!

Anyway, the most interesting part of this post is the reference to religion and other attempts to impose "circular, seasonal ritual" on "linear time". Time, in a very real sense, is not linear. Linear time is an artificial human creation. Real life/time is circular/seasonal. Religion and myth and many other human cultural aspects reflect that.

Posted by: Curiousdad | August 4, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ok. I have to admit to a small bit of curiosity about one thing. Did Levi knock her up again before they broke up and if so, is she considering exercising her right to choose whether to terminate the pregnancy? Normally, this would be between her and her physician, but she and her entire family have intentionally thrust themselves onto the public stage.

Posted by: jokr8790 | August 4, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Time, in a very real sense, is not linear. Linear time is an artificial human creation. Real life/time is circular/seasonal."

I think that what you say is very true. The concept of time varies greatly in its meaning and use.

I'm certainly not a philosopher or a mathematician but it certainly seems to me that unfortunately most of human linear time could be expressed as "circular or seasonal." Our most frequent recent use of the term "linear time" is probably nothing more than the algorithmic recording of the events of human history. After all, without documenting events and then separating them by units (seconds, minutes, days, years, atomic particle decay or vibration, or whatever) there is a poor concept of time.

It would seem that we, as a human species, would have learned from previously unsuccessful documented time lines. That is, since we lived through previous periods of time and recorded in an algorithmic fashion the events that occurred, we would be able to see our mistakes or the errors of our ways and not repeat them. But that has not happened, has it? As an example, how many wars have been fought … only to be repeated again and again. We can actually see the beginnings of war and we cannot stop it from happening. On a smaller scale in our personal lives, how many times have we made the same mistakes over and over, never seemingly to learn. I won’t get into politics but there are many mistakes made there that were and are foreseeable but are allowed to happen. Look at our economy, spending more than we take in in taxes, fees and fines year after year in both political parties leads to more or more debt. What do we think is going to happen? That we’re going to suddenly genetically alter a goose that lays gold eggs, or that the Chinese are going to forgive us the billions we owe them.

We, and the world, seems to be stuck on this ‘circular/seasonal’ timeline and not be able to get off it. If we look at history’s timeline regarding Nations, we are bound to self-destruct. Two-thirds of American believe we are on that path and history verifies it. Can we create a new timeline? Maybe.

As far as these two young people go, they are just stuck on the same self-repeating, circular timeline the rest of us are, so stop pointing fingers, unless you are without fault.

Posted by: IGotAComment | August 4, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

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