ABC News ran a story today
warning informing us that Sarah Palin may in fact be running for president. As a news junkie, my immediate thought wasn’t (to the shock of many) “wow” or “isn’t that interesting” but “who cares?” I mean, honestly, this is such a non-story that the level of ridiculousness borders of a word that would have to be more ridiculous than “ridiculous”. Maybe super-ridiculous. Let’s be honest for a moment here, kids. Sarah Palin has as much of a chance being elected president as I do. Yeah, not kidding here. I have as much chance of being elected president as Sarah Palin does. The only way she would ever be elected president is if 70 percent of the country had a lobotomy the day before the election, which is exactly, not surprisingly, the requirements it would take for the American population to write me in as a write-in candidate in all fifty states, garnering me enough electoral votes to finally call Starving Students to move my furniture into the White House. Then again, with a $400,000 a year salary, I’d probably just leave all my stuff in place and buy all new shit, because I’d definitely be living a completely different life. I’d keep my stuffed animals, and maybe my Playstation 3 (because it gets my streaming Netflix movies, and you know I’d be wanting Netflix in the White House). But the rest of it can go to Good Will, or Good Will Hunting, or wherever it is that you send things when you finally get elected president by a write-in vote because the country has decided it doesn’t want Sarah Palin in the White House.
But I’m starting to digress here. What I really wanted to talk about was Taylor Swift and her new album. Oh wait, that’s not what I wanted to talk about, although I will admit it’s a great album, and I really have enjoyed continuously playing it in my car each and every time I get into it. No, what I wanted to get back to was the subject of how the news seems obsessed with such unimportant stories.
Take Charlie Sheen for instance. Why has the news spent so much time talking about him? Before his ridiculous melt-down, he was really unimportant, insignificant and compartmentalized to a television show that relegated itself to the importance of appearing next to Big Bang Theory. Seriously. And somehow, because he blew up one day, he’s the next most important thing since, well, I don’t have a comparison because it still doesn’t make any sense. Yet, the news, for weeks, was obsessed with all things Charlie Sheen, and honestly, he wasn’t all that significant before it all happened, and now that it’s finally blowing over, I wonder if they’re not all thinking to themselves, “how exactly did that happen?”
Which is what brings me to the obsession itself. Why do they get so obsessed with such unimportant figures in celebrity? We live in an era where people are becoming famous for being famous, and I just don’t understand it. Kim Kardasian recently announced she’s engaged to be married. Who is this person? Why is she a celebrity? Why do we care? Why is she getting so much attention when she hasn’t done a single significant thing ever. Yeah, I understand she was some kind of reality star, but really, is that enough to substantiate all of the attention? Yeah, she’s a bit attractive, but so are a lot of people. They’re not made into media sensations that require booking agents and sit down sessions with David Letterman.
Why aren’t we hyping people for doing great things? That’s one thing I’ve never understood. If a scientist discovers a property that might change humanity and civilization, that person is important and should be considered seriously significant. But rarely is such a person treated that way by anyone outside of his or her scientific discipline or academic community. Instead, we over-hype really ridiculous characters who perform stupid antics, and then make a media career out of that one moment in time.
Could this be a symptom of our need for a 24 hour news cycle, but the reality is that we don’t have 24 hours worth of news to fill that cycle? Is that the problem here? Are we so obsessed with pretending that we have news that we’ll do anything to sell an unimportant story because we don’t want to admit that on a daily basis, nothing really significant tends to happen? Congress can’t come up with a budget. Is that news? Not really. But the day that they do come up with a budget IS news. Then it should be reported. Instead, because we have no news to report, we’ll focus endlesslessy on gridlock as if that’s a story itself. It’s not. Gridlock means you can’t make a decision, or a consensus of a decision. Try to sell that as a story, and you start to see the problem that we seem to be experiencing in our daily lives. We have nothing to report, so we report unimportant events as “events” and then we hype the hell out of them until the rest of us suddenly feel it’s important.
So, what’s our solution? Stop paying attention. Really. That’s it. Discontinue watching news that hypes stupid shit as actual news. It may mean looking for alernative avenues of news because the old avenues don’t know how to stop hyping crap as news. However, I suspect that most of us are addicted to this crap, so we’re kind of doomed to a continuous process of receiving fake news as news, and our attention will continue to be focused on unimportant people doing unimportant things while the rest of us are told to treat it as important. Mainly because we don’t have any other way of looking at the situation.