Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rise of the Celebrity

This week Roger Ebert rants on Chicaco Sun Times, about how the AP degrades newspaper film critics by making them write about celebrity gossip. What better way to drive up ratings for the dying newspaper than feature Justin Timberlake's dog walks?

He asks, why bother with antertainment beat at all, if all the audience wants is the juicy celebrity in every aspect of the media? Ebert quotes:

The CelebCult virus is eating our culture alive, and newspapers
voluntarily expose themselves to it. It teaches shabby values to young people,
festers unwholesome curiosity, violates privacy, and is indifferent to
meaningful achievement. One of the TV celeb shows has announced it will cover
the Obama family as "a Hollywood story." I want to smash something against a
wall.                                                                        photo courtesy of
                                                                                            Palin the celebrity.

One may ask, why is the actor or actress' personal life more interesting to cover than the movie that they are star in? The movies storyline, cinematography, and their acting abilities seem to be trivial compared to the tabloids. More to the point, the celebrity culture is infantalizing readers, says Ebert. he says, "it is about the failure of our educational system. It is not about dumbing-down. It is about snuffing out."

Take the 2008 presidential campaign, for example. If the election was a movie, then everything that led up to it, seemed more or less like tabloids on the celebrity candidates. if you think about it, what really made Palin's character? Her infinite number of scandals like how her campaign spent more than 150K on her clothes or her teenage pregnant daughter have driven enough traffic for both presidential candidates alone. According to PEJ's news index, 24% of the newhole consisted of Palin as the VP candidate. So feeding the public infantalizing news may be boosting sales. But it is driving entertainment and even politics down the drain?

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