January 10, 2011

HERE IS WHY THE MEDIA IS BROKEN: DID YOU HEAR? SHOT CONGRESSWOMAN IS COUSIN OF GWYNETH PALTROW! OMG!


While Fox News is in damage control mode (see my previous post), pundits left and right are talking about what a wonderful woman Congresswoman Giffords is, it's almost Congresswoman Giffords all the time, every channel, every hour, on the hour...

... there were only a comparatively few stories about the nine-year old girl who got murdered. Barely anything about the five others who are dead and just happened to be at the wrong time at the wrong place. Their existence? Their lives? An afterthought in the media frenzy that is going on. Because in the end, we don't care about them. We, that means the media. Unless they had something to contribute dramatically, they are not important and only serve as a backdrop, just as they served as a backdrop at this appearance in Tuscon.

Every life is sacred, we are taught when we are little. But that's not true. Not really. Not in the media circus, not on the airwaves, not in the newspapers and magazines. Where's the story, eh? Where's the story in that hard-working elderly person, who always paid his taxes, who was kind to his children and grandchildren, who was so much like you that you would pass him on your way to work in the mornings, with just the slightest of nods to appreciate that you are not alone, that there are others just like you.

Where is the drama in that? Can we cast somebody famous? Can we get a good cast of characters for the inevitable TV movie here? While the people in the media vow, remind themselves, on the air for the most part, but also on websites, that this was a crossroads, that this time things are going to change...

... they are following their own rulebook that was established long ago.

Every life is sacred, so our parents told us.

But that's not true, as the media widens its net, finds the tangents, finds a reason to talk about the shootings in places where they shouldn't be talked about, mustn't be talked about, where media coverage becomes crass and gross and without shame.

The example being Entertainment Tonight's distasteful and completely useless "story" that Congresswoman Giffords is a distant cousin to Gwyneth Paltrow. Not that they ever met, hell, who cares? Look, it is another opportunity to get some air time or web space out of this, it will make us look relevant, if only for a moment or two. Because, see, Gwyneth, that girl is on fire. She has had so many fucking stories placed out there in the past six weeks or so, it isn't even funny. She had post-natal depression! She is a country singer! She is going to be on Glee! She feels the pain! She is on covers! She just had a movie released. Talk about me! Talk about me!

Sometime this week, six people will be put into the ground. There will be the perfunctory news story about them here and there, which will all end with "well, tough shit, that was", before the vultures return to the meat, and by that I mean their usual mind-numbing and soulless "political reporting" and their atrocious "Look who celebrity X is dating right now".

And two weeks from now, these six people who got killed will become numbers.

Two months from now, most people will not even remember that number.

And half a year from now, nobody will remember the shootings, outside the vague, slightly uncomfortable feeling at the back of your head, that thing that is nagging you every now and then, but that you push back, because you don't want to think about it, not really, your own life takes precedent, and you give just the slightest of nods to your neighbour on your way to work and try to make it through the day.

Because that nagging feeling inside?

It tells you something. It tells you something you don't want to know.

That it could have been you. That one of the six people could have been you. That it could have happened where you live, where you work, and hell, who wants to think about that? Because you also know that nobody in the media, nobody anywhere really, will give a damn if it is you.

Here, have some Gwyneth Paltrow instead.