The freak show that is entertainment news seems dead set on debating who will die first: Britney or
Feigning concern, reporters, commentators and talking heads (and it’s getting increasingly difficult to tell one from the other) vie with each other for the latest ‘unauthorized’ videos or inside peaks at the two tortured starlets.
‘Brit’s a threat to herself and those around,’ waxed one pundit. ‘Farah’s courage in the face of certain death from cancer is laudable,’ sighed another. Faux feelings, to be sure. And, yet we stare intently as the news media chop block one another to get the latest, greatest videos of each failing (and fallen) star. The ratings, one would assume, must soar in direct correlation to each celeb’s descent into hell.
Who’s to blame for this macabre dance? It certainly wasn’t always this way. The 24/7 news cycle is one obvious culprit since it needs constant news to feed hungry viewers and listeners. Then there’s the perpetual dumbing of America, with each new reality show slightly more idiotic than its predecessor. And, let’s not forget America’s increasingly manic obsession with Hollywood itself. It’s a toxic combination that seems to just spiral more and more out of control each day.
Once upon a time, I thought this to be a uniquely American phenomenon. But, now, when I travel overseas, I routinely see Hollywood gossip leading the local newscasts. In fact, the lead stories on Arusha, Tanzania, TV sets on January 1, 2008, were (in order):
– Britney’s latest breakdown
– Benazir Bhutto’s assassination
– Civil unrest in nearby Kenya
The dead pool descriptor seems to work equally well for the Hollywood circus and the slow, but steady, death of responsible journalism. And, it seems to me we’re all to blame.