Tuesday, June 23, 2009
n. Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.
[German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from frō, happy).] cite
I've been feeling dirty lately. Maybe it's media overload, maybe it's my conscience waking up, maybe it's just about time. I've been doing the daily (multiple times daily) perusal of the t.v. news and entertainment channels, surfing local and other blogs, and going to my favorite news websites. I keep finding myself left with this bad taste in my mouth, as if I've consumed something that looked good, but didn't taste how it looked and now I feel guilty for consuming it.
My son actually made me notice this last weekend. While surfing channels during the commercials from Ninja Warrior, I happened upon some sort of celebrity biography show, it may have been on Brad Pitt, I don't know, but my son said, "who cares?" At that moment, I wondered, "yes, who does care, and why?"
I don't know Brad Pitt. I've never met the man, yet here I am being told his life story, with pictures, and learning all sorts of intimate details of his life. When did this become news? When did this become acceptable? We've always done this as a species, I believe, watching what our neighbors were doing, gossiping, talking and stirring up drama. This moved to a national and then international stage with the advent of media and celebrities. But it's still being nosy and in other people's business.
Some will say, "well they put themselves out there, what do you expect?" That's akin to saying a rape victim was asking for it because she dressed provocatively. Does anyone really ever ask for this level of invasion of their privacy, this level of disruption of their daily lives? You can say this comes with the territory of fame, but I disagree.
This became a certainty for me this morning while watching the morning news. The "Divorce" of reality t.v. stars Jon and Kate Goselin was the hop topic for all the stations. I sat there watching the interviews with Jon and Kate. (I'd already seen them last night while watching their reality t.v. show.) But today, as I saw the pain in Kate's eyes, in the clear light of day, I remember saying to M, "I can't imagine having to go through something like that and then have to have the world watching and explain it to them."
I don't believe Jon and Kate signed on to have people peaking in their windows, publishing their dirty laundry in tabloid magazines, or having paparazzi stalking their children with telephoto lenses 24/7. I'm sure they understood there would be some intrusion into their private lives, but they could not have anticipated just how much people, strangers, would invade the privacy of their homes and lives. I don't feel good about consuming this tabloid fodder.
I stopped buying tabloids for the most part years and years ago, yet I'm still guilty of looking at the headlines in the checkout line. I still stop on the celebrity news shows while channel surfing, and I don't know how to kick this habit. I can turn off the t.v. or change the channel. I can stop buying the daily rags. I can try to tune out whenever this stuff comes on, but it's on ALL THE TIME! EVERYWHERE! How do you stop a cultural trend? Unplug completely?
I feel guilty for participating in all this. I feel sympathy for Kate. Knowing how violated I felt the few times I was dragged onto local blogs for my political activities, I can't begin to imagine the stress she's under or how violated she feels. Because as bad as it is to have the facts of your life out there, there are also the lies. People do lie, they do it to sell their product and get rich. People also pass judgment from the outside looking in and their judgment is often more harsh than anyone deserves. How do you recover from something like that? I feel like an apology is in order to those celebrities whose lives have been turned into living hells and then we should all just turn our backs on this culture, this cult of celebrity, this diet of foulness that we're being fed and demand something else. Just say no.
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