the hypocrisy of tabloid media and why the shame is ours

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie Heath Ledger has ever been in and if so I don’t remember it. The truth is most movies don’t get my attention any more. Going to a movie theatre isn’t a pleasant experience between high movie prices, teenagers running amok and young parents bringing babies and toddlers out with them because they spent their babysitter money on popcorn.

So I would say I was more surprised than saddened to hear of the actor’s death a few weeks ago. Sorry certainly that he left behind a daughter who now won’t know her father and a family who mourns their tragic loss.

His death did generate some portion of outrage from me though, in what was initially an unexpected way but upon further review shouldn’t have been so unexpected.

The tabloid media, in this case Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, paid what I believe was hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain video of Ledger’s past drug use. The faux-news shows teased (hyped) their exclusive content for some of their future broadcasts. It was content born of the sadly dysfunctional marriage between the portable electronic devices and some people’s soulless devotion to either making a quick buck or garnering their 15 seconds of fame no matter how they do it.

Paparazzi trying to videotape or photograph celebrities doing mundane or illicit things, it really doesn’t matter which, are selling to broadcast and print outlets feeding a public’s insatiable appetite. That doesn’t make it right.

Such video could not be considered news as it was understood the actor was a drug user who had sought treatment so obviously he used drugs…do we need to see something he’d admitted doing? Further his death was not related to drug use. Above all else: why would any of this be any of our business anyway?! The purpose of the video – for both the seller and the buyer – was to titillate and destroy.

Then, out of the oddest circumstances, the video was not aired. Certain high profile celebrities threatened the shows by saying they wouldn’t be seen on them or provide them access. I’m not sure which is more pathetic – that the shows would be so scared by such a threat or that celebrities could actually have any power by virtue of their participation on these programs.

And shall I even broach the saga of Britney Spears? In what has become clear via mainstream media accounts portraying a woman suffering from some kind of mental illness, her problems are terribly personal and none of anyone else’s damn business! While I don’t own any of her music I’m am certainly well versed in the drama that is her life. Yet I’m not actively searching for that information. That fact is simply ridiculous.

If there was some smaller degree of mental instability within her, I’ve no doubt that it was dangerously exacerbated by the war like media coverage of her every move. The real insanity here are the hundreds of media swarming this singer whether she went for coffee or to dinner.

What is the point to the madness of these two stories? Why do the media need to show videos of dead actors doing drugs and of a young mother whose grasp on reality is currently faltering?

Sadly, the answer is because there is an audience.

Multiple these two stories by one thousand and you’ll not come close to the number of similar celebrity stories covered each day around the world. Paparazzi trying to videotape or photograph celebrities doing mundane or illicit things, it really doesn’t matter which, are selling to broadcast and print outlets feeding a public’s insatiable appetite.

That doesn’t make it right. If it were you or someone in your family, would you really want to be treated in this way?

The only way to gleefully kill celebrity journalism (as it likes to be inaccurately named) is to eliminate the audience. Are we globally strong enough to universally endure a 12 step program to overcome this celebrity addiction? Can we even try? It starts with one person…you.

Here’s how you can start to beat your addiction….

• Stay away from celebrity web sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton, filled with content from video and still photo parasites
• Turn off the TV when Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition or the like come on. And don’t ever watch Entertainment Television, VH1 or MTV….these networks are chock full of gossipy programming
• Do not subscribe to or even pick up to look at in the check out line magazines like People, US, National Enquirer, OK or any other celebrity rags

No one would produce this crap if there weren’t an audience hungry to absorb it.

Start with small steps and add more with time until the issue of celebrity and the coverage of same has a rightfully much smaller place in our collective consciousness, until we learn to save glorification for deities and until we realize we should never measure our value, worth or lot in life against a computer enhanced image of celebrities who really have no true understanding of how they got so successful in the first place.

4 Responses to “the hypocrisy of tabloid media and why the shame is ours”

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  3. Peter, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have no idea why people feel it is their ‘right’ to invade someone else’s privacy in such an egregious manner. This whole argument that they are ‘celebrities’ therefore give up the right to a private life is absurd.

  4. Elaine:

    That’s right. Likely its a growing pain of having all the portable, high-end electronic toys at our disposal combined with so many tools through which to broadcast this crap.

    Oh well, I hope everybody stops buying and reading this stuff…but its an uphill battle.

    Best always,
    -Peter

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