Tuesday 7 July 2009

Exit from Celebrity Culture

I cannot believe that the lead story on Sky News today was the funeral of Michael Jackson, a black man who tried hard to turn himself into a white man, judging by his increasingly bizarre appearance. I was not a fan. His singing voice did not impress me though his dancing did.

Yesterday the news of a fresh agreement between USA and Russia over nuclear weapons was overshadowed by excited speculation over who might be attending the funeral of this celebrity and who might win a lottery to the following Memorial Service in the Staples Centre. Indeed, since the poor benighted man died last week the media has been filled with repeated reports and videos of his rather sad life. It was interesting to note that Elizabeth Taylor, a friend of the deceased, declined an invitation to attend what she referred to as a 'hoop-la' event.

Meanwhile, there is serious unrest in China, Burmese dissidents are still being repressed, soldiers are being blown up in Afghanistan, there are further clues to the origins of whales, talk of hominids that died out thousands of years ago, new discoveries in space . . . there are so many fascinating and interesting things happening in the world but they are eclipsed by 'celebrity'. I think celebrity news is a gift to lazy journalism – the researchers do the work of tracking down appropriate stills and video clips while the presenters regurgitate tired facts. However, they have to report what they're told to so perhaps it's management that needs to wake up, shape up or ship out.

Is it surprising that when children are asked what they want to do when they grow up many of them reply that they want to be pop singers or simply famous? Is it not time that 'reality shows'- an invitation to the voyeuristic – were replaced with real entertainment?

Michael Jackson – Requiescat in pace – if you're allowed to.

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