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FORGET GOD, we pray to hollywood
06/25/09 at 05:38 PM by MattRM
this is a post from my own personal blog that i felt was appropriate to post here. tear it to pieces if you feel the need to, i can take it.

this country is lost.

we've all grown up around celebrities. well, okay, not literally around celebrities, but we might as well have been next-door neighbors with them. chances are, if you have a poster in your room, there's somebody on it. and that assuming that somebody isn't a cartoon or something, that's a picture of an actual human being on your wall. we forget so easily that, even though they're on our walls, even though they're in movies and tv shows that we enjoy and identify with, even though they're on the cover of all the trashy magazines at the grocery store checkout lanes, even though they're filthy rich and could probably end a good majority of the problems currently facing the modern world if they pooled their money together and, say, saw to it that the hungry are fed and the homeless are sheltered and the innocent are removed from the war zones, we forget that they're really no different than us. sure, they might have a talent that we don't have, they might have opportunities and chances that are simply not available to us, but nothing physically separates us from them. they have diseases just like we have diseases, they struggle through life just like we struggle through life, they make bad decisions just like we make bad decisions. yet we seem to be outright refusing to accept that as a fact.

when jon and kate get a divorce, it's everywhere. its effects on their children will be televised. their own lives, post-divorce, will be televised. it will be, it is, the cover story on the trashy magazines. the headlines will read "BREAKING NEWS", it will be described as a "TRAGEDY" or a "DISASTER".

the rest of the divorces in this country, in this world, go unnoticed. children are affected, they are thrown into counseling with their parents, their lives are drastically and permanently different. except, nobody outside their immediate circle of family and friends takes notice. it's not reported on CNN. they are left to struggle by themselves.

when a news reporter is taken prisoner in the middle east, the entire country grieves. other news reporters who report on the situation give us the impression that their own brother or sister, their own flesh and blood, has just been captured. when we read these emotions, some of us feel the need to take action, which seems to equate to taking on these emotions ourselves. we give others the impression that someone we deeply care about and have known for our whole lives is in life-threatening danger, when in reality, we don't know this person. we most likely never will know this person. and while it's perfectly reasonable to grieve for those we don't know because some sort of injustice is being committed to them, some sort of crime against humanity, it is completely unreasonable to focus our attention on one person with these grievances, pretend that they're the only person in the world who is suffering, pretend that their singular act of suffering has a direct impact on our lives, pretend that we somehow owe them and only them our sympathy.

when the imprisoned news reporter is released, we rejoice. we breathe a sigh of relief, we feel whole again. we ignore the rest of the prisoners of war, the ones who were not released, the ones who will not be released. we rejoice.

michael jackson died today, if you were not yet aware. i am aware of this because every single website i visited from about 5:15pm on informed me that he had been rushed to a hospital after paramedics arrived to find him completely unresponsive. i would like to share with you some of the ways i was informed of this.

from foxnews.com:
BREAKING NEWS: HEALTH CRISIS: Jackson Rushed to Hospital, Possible Heart Attack
URGENT: Legendary music icon Michael Jackson in hospital after reports say he stopped breathing; family unsure of his condition, but say he's not doing well.
VIDEO: Michael Jackson Rushed to Hospital
PHOTOS: King of Pop's Tumultuous Career
BIO: Extraordinary Life of Michael Jackson
WATCH LIVE: Outside Hospital | Jackson's Home

from abcnews.go.com:
BREAKING NEWS: Michael Jackson Suffers Cardiac Arrest, Rushed to UCLA Medical Center
Jackson, 50, reportedly rushed to hospital after suffering cardiac arrest.
Full Story | 28 Comments |Related:
* WATCH: Jacko on Comeback: 'This Is It'
* PHOTOS: Michael Jackson Through the Years
* WATCH: King of Pop Backs Out
* REPORTS: Michael Jackson Seeks Comeback in London
* WATCH: Michael Jackson's Neverland on Display
* PHOTOS: Thriller: King of Pop's Auction
* WATCH: King of Pop Announces New Concerts

from news.yahoo.com:
BREAKING NEWS: Michael Jackson is reportedly rushed to hospital
LOS ANGELES Michael Jackson has been rushed to the hospital, a fire department official told the Los Angeles Times. Capt. Steve Ruda said Thursday that Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper. Full Story
* Slideshow: Michael Jackson

this last one, the yahoo news home page, was the one i found most disturbing. when i first saw the news on a different website, i went to yahoo news because i had a feeling i was going to write something about this, and i wanted to look at how different websites were handling it, and i was relieved to see that this story was not the main story on yahoo news, it was in a small rectangular area to the right, while the main story on the page, the one that immediately caught your eye, was about iran, and read "Iran reform leader says he won't end his challenge." i refreshed the page to see the stories had been swapped, and the iran story had now been pushed off to the side and was now less than half the size of the michael jackson story. i took a screenshot of this one to show you - i had the rest of the websites up as well, but they automatically updated before i could catch them and save them as images (ie: fox news is no longer calling this a "HEALTH CRISIS", thankfully).

i would also like to mention that while i was writing about divorce several minutes ago, i was looking for some sort of quick statistic, a solid number that showed the current divorce rate in the country, and although i wasn't able to find it, when i clicked on a link from google to an article about divorce on msnbc.com, i was greeted with, guess what, a large red header that read: "BREAKING NEWS: NBC confirms Michael Jackson pronounced dead" (screenshot).

i guess i don't really have a solid argument that i'm trying to drive home here, i don't have a single, concise point to convince you of (i'm not sure if you've noticed this yet or not, but i'm not very good at being concise). but from what i see, this country as a whole has its priorities all mixed up, and many of us do as well. i want to stress that i don't believe we should all be emotionless rocks, that we shouldn't feel anything at all when we read of a celebrity's death or a family's divorce or a news reporter's capture, because those are all sad, unfortunate events.

i do believe, however, that we are belitting ourselves and people like ourselves immensely when we grieve for an extended period of time over a single instance of misfortune or death, especially when that specific incident will have no true effect on our own lives. we are all the same as the celebrities we read about. deaths occur every day, and it is flat out unacceptable and ignorant and offensive to call a single person's death a "HEALTH CRISIS", or their unexpected rush to the hospital "URGENT" or "BREAKING NEWS".

i'm not trying to convince anyone to stop reading the trashy celebrity magazines, or stop watching all the major news channels that have cameras and helicopters circling hospitals when a celebrity is rushed inside, or stop going to the websites that place a large, eye-grabbing banner on each page conveying the "breaking news". i am trying to convince you to think about what you see and hear, though. just because it's the main story on every single news website, just because the story has 500 comments on TMZ, just because the tv news anchor's demeanor seems to implore you to feel sad and grieve about it, don't give in to what or how the media is pressuring you to feel. there is nothing different about michael jackson's death than the death of everyone else who has died or will die from a heart attack today. they are all equally devastating to families and friends and loved ones, and you're only belittling the deaths of your own loved ones by pretending that a celebrity's death is somehow more tragic or unfortunate. think for yourself, don't let hollywood grieve through you.

thanks for your time,

update: i spoke too soon, it turns out that fox news has decided that michael jackson's death is, in, fact, urgent:

Tags: death, hollywood, celebrities, opinion
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