Home CommentaryOpinions Britney vs. Burma and the issues that matter

Britney vs. Burma and the issues that matter

by Archives October 16, 2007

Read the news recently? If you have, you’ll surely know about the price of oil passing $84 a barrel. How about the conference on genocide which opened in Montreal last week? The split between rebel groups and the government in Sudan? No? If you had trouble recalling any of these three stories, you’re not alone.
The media today has become globalized, logically you would think that would mean the rapid diffusion of information across the world. Well, that’s exactly what has happened, kind of.
Headlines on many of the homepages of media websites such as CNN.com, FoxNews.com, or CBC.ca can include any of these types of stories on a given day. But what’s often there right alongside it, and indeed sometimes above it, are stories about celebrities.
That’s right, apparently Britney Spears’ latest trip to the 7/11 for a microwave burrito is just as important as the Burmese military cracking down on pro-democracy protests. At least that’s the impression one would get when visiting these websites.
But this is part of a much larger problem. Celebrity worship culture has become the latest craze, especially in America. And mainstream media are feeding fuel to the fire not only by running celebrity stories in the first place, but by giving them the kind of importance and prominence that should be reserved for issues that actually matter; issues like global warming, the war in Iraq, and hunger and disease in Africa.
With people paying so much attention to celebrities, the issues that matter get completely swept under the rug. Education is so important and vital to ensuring a better world for tomorrow, and we are squandering our opportunities to promote this in favour of Britney’s Burrito escapades.
Imagine if aliens were to intercept a broadcast of FoxNews or CNN. They would probably be under the impression that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are the supreme rulers of our world. Or, on the other hand, they would think we are so backwards and primitive for worshipping a few token individuals when there are other more important issues, they wouldn’t even want to make contact with us.
“Who cares that we’re razing the Amazon, that’s not sexy. Did you see what George Clooney was wearing last week?!?”
My point here is that if people paid even half as much attention to the problems that actually mattered instead of glorifying a few trivial and irrelevant actors or musicians, the world would be a much better place. Collectively, if everyone put all of their energy and attention towards these issues, we would have a much better chance of getting them resolved.
I’m not suggesting that if celebrity culture disappears altogether, so too will the world’s problems. But media are the gatekeepers of information for the vast majority of the world’s people; this is where the vast majority learn about what’s going on in the world. Is it any wonder people in Africa think North Americans are spoiled and indifferent when we are seemingly ignoring their plight?
Education is the only answer. Change the way people think and you change the world. These are wise words. Britney isn’t going to play any role in solving world hunger or eliminating political oppression, so do you part and ignore her the next time a story gets run. If we ignore celebrity ‘news’, maybe it will just go away and we can get back to the issues that actually matter.
But then again, what really matters to you?

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