“Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!” – “Clairee Belcher”, Steel Magnolias
This week’s Hump Day Hmmm is about the viral nature of news and gossip. I couldn’t agree with her choice of adjective more: VIRAL! As in illness inducing.
There are so many ways to attack this topic. I could go at it from a personal angle. Talk about how I have been harmed/harmed others by breaking the Ninth Commandment. Or I could go into detail about gossip and the internet and how fast things spread these days. Or I could get on my soapbox about a topic that has been driving me insane for about two years now….
WHEN DID GOSSIP BECOME NEWS!?!?!
Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Anna Nicole, OJ – I could go on and on and ON! In fact, if you go to CNN.com right now (10:45 Tuesday evening), you will find the Hulk Hogan divorce as a major headline. WTF! And there are two other of the “headlines” that I would scarcely qualify as “news”. I understand that there have always been gossip rags and tabloids, but since when did stuff like this become worthy of a spot on legitimate news outlets?
How can some of these “journalists” report this crap with a straight face? Fortunately, there is at least one who couldn’t stand it anymore. I caught this live, but here is the video of Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC if you haven’t seen it:
Why do the news outlets think we care about this stuff? I no longer watch much news on TV because of this, but apparently I am one of the few who is voting with my feet. Not that print journalism is a saint in this regard, but at least I can read the Wall Street Journal without reading about K-Fed. At least for now; we’ll see what ol’ Rupert does to it.
So why has it come to this? Is the reality TV culture becoming reality? Or is it more sinister?
The Conspiracy Theorist in me thinks it’s a plot to distract us from (fill in the blank). Make the water cooler talk about the latest celebrity rehab stint instead of the heath insurance crisis or the war in Iraq. The more bandwidth we spend on the crap, the less we’ll have available for what actually matters. There is only so much airtime available in a newscast, so what isn’t getting aired when this crap is?
It’s just like in the Roman Empire. Feed a few Christians to the lions, have a few fights to the death, a couple of chariot races, and everyone is happy. Now, we’re voting people off the island, giving out the roses, and dancing the night away, and the people who participate in this entertainment become the major headline of the day. And just like it was then, the infrastructure is collapsing, there are poisons in the water, corruption is running rampant, and the foreign policy is untenable. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain boys and girls….
What do you think? Is the “gossip as news” as damaging as I think? Or do I need to lighten up and enjoy the pabulum that is tonight’s news feast?
For more on this topic, check out Using My Words.