Yesterday, Arizona police were called to Frankie Muniz’s home to for a domestic disturbance call. Quickly rumors of assault and suicide attempts began flying, despite police reassurance that they were simply intervening on an escalated situation between the Malcom in the Middle actor and his girlfriend, Elycia Turnbow.
Even though the details of the situation remain blurry, one thing is clear- the media isn’t throwing this former teen star under the bus. While the world of gossip sites is usually quick to go for the jugular, most bloggers have refrained from going in on the actor, choosing not to accused but to ask, “What’s really going on?”
Now, our question is this: where was this sense of journalistic wonder when R&B star Mario was accused of assaulting his mother last October? Though the “You Should Let Me Love You Crooner” was later cleared on any charges, the blogosphere had already sentenced him through their reporting which chose to jab first and ask questions later.
It would be easy to call the discrepancy a case of discrimination. White Boys Gone Wild usually get rosier treatment than stars of color. And if you have your doubts on that theory, close your eyes and try to imagine a black Charlie Sheen…
However, we’re prone to think the media’s mercurial slayings could be something more. Muniz’s run as Malcom on the FOX sitcom lasted nearly six years, making him America’s poster child for much of the early 2000’s. Though the initial reports of the domestic disturbance certainly suggested the worst, I don’t think the media that had embraced him and known him for years was quite ready to give up hope on the actor yet.
On the other hand, Mario- a well known star in R&B circles had yet to really have the crossover effect where middle America could feel familiar with him yet. Even Chris Brown, who had come so close with his Wrigley Double Fresh “Forever” commercials wasn’t close enough. Even in the minutes after ‘the incident’ with then girlfriend Rihanna, the media held no punches reporting even before there was real evidence against him. While we refuse to defend actions taken against any woman, we have to wonder why the media quick to walk some male stars down the green mile faster than others.
Does the media’s familiarity and affinity keep them hesitant or keep them honest?