Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More Than We Need to Know

I had a few minutes to kill so I read a few pages of the Parade magazine that comes with many Sunday papers. It starts with Walter Scott's Personality Parade, a feature where readers write-in and ask questions about celebrities. Have you seen it? It makes me embarrassed to be a member of the human race. Questions are invariably posed in a smarmy manner using phrases like "gal pal", and the answers are just as bad, or worse. Ugh.

I don't understand the popularity of Personality Parade, People magazine, the Entertainment Tonight TV show, and the hundreds of other celebrity-obsessed offerings from the entertainment media. Who cares who is dating who? Who cares that Tom Cruise married some actress?

Worse yet, you can't turn around without bumping into some advice from a celebrity. Who cares about the political views of Barbara Streisand? Does having some singing and acting talent qualify her as a political analyst? Who would ever seek or take advice from movie stars, athletes, or other famous people? Their lives are so different from the average person that their advice is worse than useless. They deserve credit for success in their chosen field, but in love, politics, or just about any other subject, they have no credentials and their unusual circumstances corrupt their point of view.

I don't blame the stars for the constant coverage, for giving advice, or for airing their political views. I don't blame the media, either. The fault lies with the buying public. People buy the magazines, and they watch the shows, and the more they do that, the more will be offered.

The troubling thing is, because the cult of personality dominates the media, less attention is given to more important, more interesting, and more relevant subjects.


onthefly said...

Couldn't agree more; when one thinks of how much time i expended on the views of 'celebrities' and sportspersons on subjects not in their field it makes one despair.

Unknown said...

But popularity does count; the principle of democracy says the person with the most votes wins, and often the person with the best-known name gets the most votes. The trick is to prevent popular people from believing they are bigger than life, and then abusing their power. The internet is the best tool to come along which lets the less popular be heard as well.