Save Me

This is a plea for help. Just as Richard Gere cried out so convincingly in An Officer and a Gentleman, I got nowhere else to go. Someone please reach out and lend a guy a hand.

Our country is run by fascists, we're on the brink of war, and JAG is still on, but the corporate media machine has decided to let us know what it thinks is really important. The J.Lo and Ben b.s. is going strong on all fronts, and even KCTS is still full steam ahead on the Josh Groban gravy train. (My favorite moment from his TV special? The singer disingenuously asking cheese-monger record producer and mentor David Foster, "Why me?" Indeed, Josh, indeed.) But nothing prepared me for the pummeling upside my head that is the Justin Timberlake Campaign.

Don't pretend you don't know him, liar. Lil' Justin? The curly-haired, muppet-faced boy from 'N Sync who has gone solo and is now making like Michael Jackson by way of Corey Feldman? You cannot escape him; you are his. Justin on Barbara Walters' show. Justin on the cover of Details, the Out magazine for closeted homosexuals, wearing a look that is some gay makeup artist's idea of a real dangerous street tuff who's just robbed Spandau Ballet's wardrobe. Justin on the cover of Vibeā€”Vibe! Vibe??!!--just hangin' in fur-trimmed leatha and an MC5 T-shirt and, you know, givin' a surly stare just to let choo know he's a brutha (in an issue also featuring Dru Hill, Aaliyah, and AIDS victims in Uganda, in no particular order).

This isn't right. And, what's worse, I give. I admit it. Uncle already. I've fallen into some pop-culture sinkhole from which there may be no return. Justin's Rolling Stone cover came out last week: He's wiry and shirtless, and I found myself feeling very unclean and promising myself I'd buy it just as soon as I could pay my cell phone bill.

"Like I Love You," the video for Justin's first single off his debut album, Justified (no comment), has Justin riffing on Michael's "The Way You Make Me Feel" video. He's kickin' it in a parking lot with his home boyz and hitting some high notes while cruising some chick in the manner of a horny 15 year old. He gets to whisper come-ons directly to the camera; he sounds like a phone-sex operator on some fraudulent line promising erotic skateboarder talk. He's sneering his lips and dropping his consonants now cuz he's fly ("Gettin' scared now, righ'? Feel goo', righ'?"). I'm this close to covering my face and buying the CD maxi-single, even though I know how very wrong that is. Even though I know Justin's the kind of guy who's gonna take you to TGI Friday's and make a big deal out of it when he says, "It's on me, baby."

According to the Internet Movie Database, Justin is most afraid of sharks, spiders, snakes, and "dying unloved." Somebody hold me.

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