A flood in Jakarta, Indonesia has killed at least 5 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Yet the top story on many news reports is either Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, or that football guy who was either the victim of a cruel hoax or the perpetrator. I may have mentioned this multiple times on this blog, but our priorities are really strange. I know that the news doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, but in the grand scheme of things, a natural disaster that damages an entire city is more significant than the indiscretions of two athletes.
Speaking of which, it is sad to see a great, respected athlete go down in such an extraordinary fashion. I don’t believe that people are “punished” by God (or “the universe”) for wrongdoing, but I do believe that everything we do comes with a set of consequences–good and bad. Eventually, we all live with the after-effects of our decisions. Even elite athletes.
This is the last time I’m going to mention this topic on this blog (I hope). I watched part of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, and he doesn’t give off the appearance of contrition at all. It isn’t my job to gauge the inner-workings of a man’s heart, but I think, given the impact his lies have had on multiple peoples’ lives, that he would at least feign remorse.
However, I also think that a bit more grace has to be extended toward anyone in the public eye who makes a mistake. You and I have the benefit of screwing up in private, where we only have to answer to friends, family, and acquaintances. Actors, politicians, and pro athletes have to have their mistakes exposed to the public, where they will inevitably be scrutinized and ridiculed.
We expect these people, who are just as human as the rest of us, to be saintly paragons of virtue, and when they fall short, we chastise them for being what they are–human. No man or woman is meant to be held up and worshiped the way athletes and entertainers are, yet we do it all the time. We expect them to live up to our expectations of them with no room for error, and when they do fall–which they will–we descend upon them like vultures on an animal carcass, and pick at them until all that’s left are dry bones.
I am in no way condoning malfeasance by celebrities, but let’s be honest hearing about the failures and weaknesses of famous people does nothing to improve the quality of our lives. It’s sad because we’re the ones who have placed them on the pedestal to begin with, yet we’re just as eager to kick them once they’ve been knocked off of it.
This is indicative of the era we’re living in. I’m old enough to remember when there were separate entities for celebrity news (Entertainment Tonight) and world news (Everything else). Today, they’re one and the same, with celebrity headlines being featured prominently on nightly newscasts. (You can also tell when a broadcaster is from the old school. They always look vaguely embarrassed to report on, say, the status of Kim K’s baby bump)
In the end, the networks are just giving us what we want, but I wonder, who decided we all wanted this, and why didn’t I get a vote?
I watch the news to keep me informed about the world I’m living in. I want to know it all (every ugly, strange part) because if something happens, I don’t want to be caught totally off-guard. If I sound preachy about this, well, it isn’t my intent. If I want to hear celebrity news, which I do, on occasion, I go to the places that specifically offer it, but when I watch the ‘regular’ news, I want to hear about everything else. Every awful, depressing, uplifting, and hopeful thing.
There are more commonalities between us than there are differences, so in watching the news, I get a small window into how the people I share this planet with exist. Also? If I know how the rest of the world lives, I can help because I am aware of their needs, rather than focusing purely on my own.
As much as I’d like to live as though the world is my personal oyster, I have to acknowledge that my birth, and privileges that came along with it rendered me responsible for helping to care for everyone else–particularly those who aren’t blessed with the same rights and freedoms that I take for granted. I watch the news because it is a reflection of real life. It’s informative, scary, worrying, disturbing, hopeful, happy, and peaceful in one slickly produced package, and I’d rather be prepared by knowing every depressing thing about the world, than ignorant.