Posts Tagged ‘McKenzie Phillips’

Reality TV makes us dumb; smarten up and watch the news

December 2, 2009

The following is an editorial I composed for Colby-Sawyer’s student newspaper, The Courier:

UnknownThe continuing “Balloon Boy” saga has perpetuated two evils brewing for years in this country: our unquenchable thirst for fame, and a focus on entertainment as news.  Without knowing it, Richard Heene began a national conversation that, as a nation, we should be engaging in every day.

The 2000s are going to be commemorated as the “reality television” decade. TIME magazine first called attention to the craze in their June 26, 2000 cover story entitled “Voyeur TV.” Our decent into an unrecognizable world had begun.

The need to be famous has risen to unprecedented levels. Everywhere we look; there is coverage of a “celebrity” who is nothing more than someone who achieved fame due to a starring role or appearance on a realty show. These shows are good television that reel us in with frivolous idiocy and make us feel better about our own lives. What we have failed to grasp, and now need to engage in, is the danger in this type of programming. What Heene exposed to the world, is just how fame hungry our culture has become.

The danger lay in one simple fact: we began to care. Our fondness towards lives of these non-celebrities has added fuel to the fire for families like the Heenes to be able to pull off elaborate hoaxes, like the one we saw with the balloon. They are being held accountable for their actions even though we’re the ones to blame for this whole mess in the first place.

At what point are we going to stop and reevaluate? America needs to wake up from its long hibernation. The fact that we know intimate details of Jon and Kate Gosselin, or McKenzie Phillips’s experience with incest speaks volumes about where our head is at as a nation.

Non-reports about celebrities have seeped into our national news coverage and pushed us away from the issues that matter most. For example, CNN committed a Sunday afternoon to Britney Spears and her newly shaved head. More recently, coverage was dedicated to Maria Shriver for not following her husband’s law banning cell phones while driving. Are these types of stories really that important?

There are two habits that need to change: what we are given and how it is received. The American people need to focus on the important issues that affect us all. Information is power and the more informed we are, the smarter we are.

The domination of national news coverage by the likes of Kanye West, The Heene family, John and Kate, and other superficial garbage needs to cease.  The American people need to send a message, loud and clear, that they will not tolerate the brutal dumbing down of our culture.

As a nation, America needs to re-engage in the type of conversations that led to a change of public opinion about the Vietnam War. To not be informed about issues that matter (health care, global climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iran Nuclear crisis, etc.) is ignorant. We have turned a deaf ear to our biggest problems because we either do not understand them, or have grown fatigued by them.

America needs to be concerned again. Only we can effect change in this country. The problems plaguing our nation are up to us to fix, not the legislature in Washington.

I challenge you to really learn about the issues of the day. In the end you will be better for it. At the end of the day, our national issues mean more than who John Mayer may or may not be dating. Put away the gossip magazines, turn off MTV, and watch the news.

Thank you Richard Heene for starting the most important national conversation of our lifetime. America, it is time to continue it.