Besides the obvious anticipation for my weekly column, last Wednesday was an important day. No, you didn’t forget your mom’s birthday or your parents’ anniversary – but Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys was accused of attempting to commit suicide.It’s always a curious thing anytime some big scandal makes headlines, speculation arises from the media’s talking heads to make things sound more significant and imperative than they really are. But has anyone stopped to think of how crucial these happenings are to our everyday lives?
On the evening news last Wednesday, it looked as though it was extremely crucial. I watched the entire news program, which was plastered with story after story about T.O., and realized there were only two “real news” stories, and frankly, I can’t remember them.
Since I’m not a football buff, there seems to be something wrong with the fact that I know all the intricate details of Owens’ alleged drug overdose but can only vaguely remember something about a school shooting in Colorado – shown on that same broadcast.
It seems to me our obsession with the lives of the rich and famous is a direct reflection of the skewed priorities of our society.
History graduate student Blake Williams said, “The only time I’ve ever seen CNN on in the Student Center is when they were running the story about T.O. The crowd of people watching subsequently got up and left when the real news came on.”
For an even greater example, think of the motto for VH1’s Celebreality: “Get a life. Theirs.” We are so intrigued with those who entertain us on-screen that we demand they do the same off-screen. And there are numerous markets created – and thriving – around this addiction. I couldn’t even begin to count or estimate how many tabloids exist today, but in their competitive market, they’re becoming cheaper in both price and content.
Perhaps the most saddening fact is the media feed us stories that are created in the news writers’ own back rooms. It is seldom that we see stories dealing with celebrities that are worthy of the nonfiction section in your local library. Each story begins with the smallest piece of evidence that is woven into a fabricated story of love, romance, deceit, heartache and the recent favorite: pregnancy.
Our thirst for tasteless and useless knowledge has caused us to feed the lucrative market of tabloids and TV shows that are devoted to celebrity sightings and fightings. By feeding this hunger, we indirectly create more buzz: A true businessman will always give the people what they want. And what we want tends to tear apart celebrities more than we realize.
For example, for those of us who believe Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson really were in love, look what years of the press watching every bat of the eyelash, every kiss, every embrace, did to their relationship. Would your marriage survive having its first two years videotaped, nationally-televised and marketed for DVD?
But these aren’t the only rifts created by our fixation. The amount of time we waste delving into a world where every ounce of truth in your life is ruthlessly converted into a false story that tears us apart from our own world: the real world. It’s a simple thing to watch the news every day and be aware of what’s happening around you globally, culturally and locally, but we still can’t seem to make it as important as the alleged suicide attempt of a man we’ll never meet.
Anahita Kalianivala is a freshman English and psychology major from Fort Worth. Her column appears every Wednesday.