Thursday, April 12, 2007

a sign of the times?

A little break from life in my "Garden of Eden" to wax (un-)eloquent about media and culture. Indulge me for just a minute and take a look at the following "news" headlines:
- Wife doused with gas, set afire; son also hurt
- Smith's baby's dad? Answer may come soon
- Coyote attacks young boy playing in back yard
- Mom admits trying to drown 2 daughters in tub
- Fleeing suspect caught after fake leg fell off
- 2,000 stolen wedding gowns seized at border
Looks typical for the National Enquirer, no? Or perhaps some other supermarket tabloid like Star Magazine, or The Sun in the UK? Sadly, the headlines above are (apparently) considered legitimate top news stories taken straight off the website. What's worse, this is not the result of an isolated slow news week. While all of these "news stories" have appeared in the last 48 hours, this particular week hasn't even been as bad as the usual drivel that has appeared over the past six months. How we can put "American Idol sends another contestant packing" in the same short list as "Iran may have nuclear weapons soon"?

General nausea aside, I'm not quite able to discern whether this is more upsetting because of the commentary it makes on the state of our media, or the commentary it makes on the state of American culture. (Maybe it's not either/or: maybe it's BOTH). Is it because the media think these nuggets of information are honestly worthy of our time and attention, or are these headlines really the things about which we want to be informed? Does knowing that a woman tried to drown her child or that a man's fake leg fell off make me a better, more informed citizen of this community, this country, the world? It's as if we are so in love with ourselves, so infatuated with our own dysfunction, that we are utterly blind to the things around us that actually do matter. We're like the spoiled teenage debutante obsessing over the state of her makeup and the gum that's somehow gotten tangled in her hair and the bad shoes that her friend has decided to buy for $400 and the boy who's run off with her best friend...all the while completely oblivious to the fact that she's standing in a house that's burning down.

Admittedly, I don't know the cause for this sensationalism, and I'm even further away from having a solution. But this I know: the line between cheap entertainment and real news shouldn't be so blurry.

1 comment:

lauren said...

chris, it's time for a new post.