by Ben Cohen
The saturation coverage of Jackson’s death is an example of our
collective flight into illusion. The obsession with the trivia of his
life conceals the despair, meaninglessness and emptiness of our own
lives. It deflects the moral questions arising from mounting social
injustice, growing inequalities, costly imperial wars, economic
collapse and political corruption. The wild pursuit of status, wealth
and fame has destroyed our souls, as it destroyed Jackson, and it has
destroyed our economy.
Chris Hedges, Truthdig.com
While Michael Jackson’s funeral was being given 24/7 coverage by all the major networks, allied troops in Afghanistan were being shot at, maimed and killed. While the press sought interviews with the monsters claiming to be Jackson’s friends and family, thousands of people lost their jobs in an economy teetering on the brink of ruin. While we wondered who would gain custody of Jackson’s children, the insurance industry dropped millions of dollars to prevent working people accessing affordable health care.
Because News is no longer about News – just a reflection of consumer desire. The networks covered Jackson rather than issues that really affected their lives because they could make more money. Covering Jackson meant ratings, and ratings meant dollars. The corporate heads of CNN, MSNBC and Fox know that we’re more interested in the lives of celebrities than the lives of those in the armed forces, and can sell advertising at a much higher rate to bored housewives with multiple credit cards, and the coveted teenage demographic plagued with insecurities and eating disorders.
It’s a tragic state of affairs that our media institutions are not only criminally negligent in their coverage of current affairs, but are also complicit in fostering the dangerous celebrity obsessed culture that values fame over everything else.
The media is going through a huge transition at the moment, and an alternative culture sick of the garbage that passes for news has a chance to take over where the MSM is failing. But to do that, it will have to take risks, and that means rejecting celebrity gossip and rejecting the easy money. Right now, the task is even harder due to dwindling advertising spending and the lack of major political drama. But in the future, we can have a robust press capable of cutting through nonsense, and above all, behaving responsibly. It’s a war for our collective sanity, and one we must win.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.