Celebrating Celebrity

What do you really care about?  What’s important to you? We like to think we determine our own focus, make our own decisions about what’s important, and what isn’t – but do we?

Animals, as near as anyone can tell, don’t worry about the past, and plan for the future in only the most limited ways (storing up food for winter, or building nests in anticipation of caring for young.)  For an animal, what’s important is what is going on herenow, in it’s immediate environment. Partly, that may be a matter of limited brain capabilities, but mostly it’s a matter of survival.  Prey animals must be constantly on the alert against predators. Predators must be constantly alert for prey, or scavengers who might interfere with the important business of securing their daily sustenance. Even if they had the brain power to focus on something else, they simply couldn’t afford to do so.

Things are different for human beings, particularly in the information age. Most of us do not live our lives in situations where we are under constant threat, or nor are most of us required to be constantly alert for a chance to eat. We have huge chunks of brain that are specifically geared for gathering information, and pondering things not of immediate survival value. Originally, that facility had a survival value all its own:  ancient men gathered information about weather patterns, and the passage of the seasons, and the movements of game, and experience at how to hunt, and farm, and a host of other activities that can be better accomplished if one thinks ahead and plans for them.

Once, that facility served people in much the same ways that a Lion’s knowledge of his hunting ground served his pride.  If there were rumors of plague, or famine, or drought, or war, steps could be taken to insure one’s well-being, or limit one’s risk. And, to some degree, we still make use of that capability:  we listen for rumors of economic troubles, and outbreaks of violence, or storms, or epidemics, and do what we can to prepare for them, or avoid them.  For the most part however, our lives are relatively safe and secure, and our attention is captured, not so much by what’s important for survival, but by whatever the news media makes available …

This morning, for example, there are stories regarding violence in Islamic countries against American embassies and consulates. There’s news of a volcano erupting in Guatemala, and actions by the Federal Reserve to aid the economy, and questions about tourists maybe dying of poisoning:  all stuff that is arguably of some importance …

There’s also news of an actress being arrested for driving under the influence, topless pictures of a British Princess, and a teen idol discussing his manliness.

WTF??? At what point was it decided that we should give a damn about Charlie Sheen, or Lindsey Lohan, or Kim Kardashian?  Who decided that it was important that we keep abreast (pun intended) of what’s up with Kate Middleton? I can understand the concept of paying attention to what world leaders say and do (though I really could give a damn about their sexual escapades), but, in what way should it be important to anyone how frequently Lindsey Lohan ends up in court???  Are there really people in America who are avid to follow the life and misdeeds of a c-list actress? Or is it just something the media does to fill space on their websites, and newspapers, and air time on their TV shows?  If the latter, who decided that these particular excuses for stories should be featured? And what does the media get in return for featuring such tales?

News organizations are not, after all, out there to keep us informed:  they are there to make money!  So, in some way, it must be profitable to report on this or that celebrity’s high-jinks, must it not?

I don’t get it. Probably I never will. But I don’t know if I have a right to complain about it … maybe the news that Charlie Sheen makes use of prostitutes, and that Prince Harry likes to party, is of vital importance to some segment of our society:  it may be that depriving these people of celebrity gossip may fuel riots or lead to mass-shootings or random acts of violence …

Perhaps enquiring minds do want to know, and my scorn of such stories only goes to illustrate how cut-off I truly am from the mainstream of American culture. Hell, for all I know, these sorts of stories may serve as a sort of protective talisman! Maybe if the media held back stories of Senators spreading dick pictures, more newsworthy things like hurricanes, or terrorist bombings would occur to fill out the blank spots in the papers and on the web! Perhaps if there had been some new stuff about Kim Kardashian on YouTube, the trailer for an obscure anti-Islam movie might not have inspired brutal assaults on our diplomats!

It seems pretty farfetched to me, but, hell, this is a freaking complex world, and I don’t pretend to understand the way it works!

Maybe it’s worth a try, just for the sake of experimentation – I mean, seriously, if there’s anything we can do to lessen the flood of horrible events, shouldn’t we do it?  I think the media should devote one solid news-cycle to report only events of the most trivial and idiotic nature, just to see if all that other shit might somehow be warded off!

To be perfectly scientific, however, that week should be followed by a week in which no bullshit of any sort gets reported on, just to see if it does result in angry mobs of frustrated citizens storming the CNN News-center in Atlanta, howling for the blood of the Editors, and more information about the Kardashians!

If that does happen, though, I freaking quit! I’ll once and for all renounce any ties to humanity and actively lobby the aliens to come take me home.

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~ by dourscot on September 14, 2012.

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