The Evolution Of Levi Johnson
There are thousands of creepy male models who would maim or wound you for just the opportunity to get a photo spread in Vanity Fair, the jet-set bible most often featured in dentist offices (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Yet the honor went to Levi -- no connection to the hot-pants -- "Johnson," the sort of trailer-trash-tastic babydad of former Governor Sarah Palin's daughter. Levi, who has sort of achieved a sweaty niche for himself on the American social ladder as a stupid but well-meaning slice of "bohunk" is following up Vanity Fair pictorial with one for Playgirl, the bible for Chelsea boys.
There is, we cannot fail to note, a pop-cultural symmetry and genius to this. "Levi," with the Old Testament name (Averted Gaze), was immediately pegged as a dumb son-of-a-bitch. In fact, he declared on his MySpace page, "I'm a fucking redneck."
He also warned that if anyone messes with him, "I'll kick ass."
In other words, Levi was a stereotypical red state punk-ass. A fucking Stalone. Insecure, stupid and corn-fed. Rescued from the obscurity of the fields, he was consigned to be an accidental ornament for the hyper-fertile Palins -- like "First Dude" Todd. The fact that he was still on MySpace alone confirms that assessment of Levi's fundamental beefishness.
So what were his options?
There is no way, no matter how much coaching, that this Id-type Alaska Manchild could ever morph himself convincingly into an intellectual. That, of course, would have been the ideal post-Palin media incarnation. Zero percentage, though, of that actually happening. You can lead a horse to Shakespeare ... Levi is congenitally -- and probably genitally as well -- dense. But that doesn't have to be a drawback. The art of media redemption involves doing the unexpected. Surprising the Chattering Classes of NY-DC-LA is like providing a religious experience to an unfortunate in Appalachia (Averted Gaze).
The next best scenario other than an improbably intellectual conversion for Levi Johnson would be to liberalize him a la Marky Mark formerly of "The Funky Bunch." If you'll remember, Marky Mark was a punk, a Southie, a racist. A nugget, a bullet-head, a neo-maxie-sum-Dweebie. He was a phenomenal stupid-ass ("Marky" once famously compared Madonna to "Beetlejuice") Brooke Shields famously pulled down his fucking pants at a party, which tells you what a beefish non-serious Player he was among the jet-set. Levi, incidentally, is so beefish that he probably sweats his own off-brand broth. He could have been a Vanilla Ice. But in the fullness of time -- and some skillful PR maneuvering -- Marky evolved into Mark, a tolerant man, an acclaimed producer, a likeable everyman character in the screen and a father.
Levi, it seems, is following that paradigm, starting with getting his bona fides among the taste makers. How long before we see Levi on the newsstand staring at us from the cover of Paper?