Well, to be socially responsible. To make a statement. Statements.
Jake Halpern in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal tells us about being bumped from an on-air CNN appearance to discuss his book. The book is about why we're so obsessed with celebrities, and ironically, he says, he was bumped because the station had a more pressing "news-breaking" story.
Britany lost custody of her kids.
But there's really little irony in that he broke his story on the editorial page of WSJ. So who's the opportunist?
Britany's heartache has been the feature on Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, Nancy Grace, and Showbiz Tonight, according to Mr. Halpern. She rates.
I'm not criticizing, honest. How can I? I'm at the end of a 500 something page chick-lit novel about powerful women (Lipstick Jungle, Candace Bushnell, real junk, or as the kids say, brain candy). One of a female power triumvirate is losing custody of her kids because she's the working, as in absentee, parent.
Not exactly the same, but still. I'm opting for brain candy by reading that, right? I could lie, tell you that I'm reading Barbara Wertheim Tuchman. She's in the pile by the bed. And I do, I do. But when I'm tired I reach for the sweets.
Concern for Britany is pouring out from compassionate stars who relate to her dilemma, writes Chris Lee of the LA Times. He tells us,
And judging by her curious behavior -- like going shopping instead of attending a divorce court hearing -- the singer seems compelled more by impulse than reason.The stars, including Dr. Phil, blame her vulnerability to addictions. Shopping's one of them. You'd think he might rule out various other Axis I diagnoses, no?
Then there's Tatum O'Neil.
Speaking to "Entertainment Tonight," O'Neal, the Oscar-winning former child actress, likened her experiences as both a young mother and a recovering heroin addict to what Spears is going through. "I relate to her and feel really sad for her," O'Neal said. "I did everything . . . that she doesn't want to do. I did the drug testing. . . . It was very humbling. . . . I wanted those kids in my life."It must be like group therapy, hearing these stories, Britany.
Come on, Obie Wan! How could I pass this stuff up?
I bring it up here mainly because perhaps the media does have a responsibility to bring us what appeals to us. We have to sit through the commercials. Surveys project that we're into people. We want to know about private lives, much moreso than rape, violence, murder and genocide, unless we know who's doing the dastardly deed. We need a face. Like OJ.
Except the We isn't universal is it? Some of us would rather know about Darfur, for example. We go to the Huffingon Post and read Mia Farrow's blog.
I, for one, like to know the news behind the news, too, as in exactly how did the French press fool us into believing that the Israeli army deliberately murdered a young Arab child, (otherwise known as the Al-Durah hoax). France-2 doctored hours of videotape to "prove" that Israeli soldiers did this, then sold the lie to millions of viewer seeking news-breaking news.
Natan Sharansky's story is quite impressive.
It's like corrective surgery. But it'll never make up for that first impression, thanks to France-2's bastardization of what could have been real news. There's a story in there somewhere, but millions won't ever hear it and certainly won't forget the original story. They'll never hear the correction and will always think, when they think of Israeli soldiers, that they kill Arab children. And like doing it.
It's indelible, you know. Imprinting takes on new meaning in the media-world.
So no matter what we read about, we really have to wonder about the veracity. Anyone who has ever been in a PhD program knows that the news is full of outright lies, that it's not based upon research, and even stories about research tend to be poorly conceived.
Which is why Mr. Halpern's not so shamelessly veiled plug for his book on the editorial page of the WSJ doesn't really bother me. At least he brings to our attention that network television is just a consortium pandering to our cravings.
And he works for a periodical that for the most part reaches for newsworthy if not news-breaking nuggets, and foregoes the candy. Somebody has to keep us straight.