I’ve been behind on my blogging lately, and it isn’t because I’ve been watching the news. Today’s Prompt “Connect the Dots” on The Daily Post said, “Scour the news for an entirely uninteresting story. Consider how it connects to your life. Write about that.” In an world where sports updates and entertainment gossip are passed off as news, for me at least 50% of “The News” is entirely uninteresting. I didn’t have to scour anything to find stories of no interest to me. I have given you some screenshots of the most boring things in the world to me.
It’s Just a Game!
First, sports are games. The outcome of a game doesn’t affect anything. Ever. Really. Unless you’re actually playing the game. Then you know what happened and don’t need to see it on the news. So, nothing pertaining to sports is news. If you cared about the game, you watched it. If you missed it, your life will go on exactly as if you had seen it. You can probably ask someone who did watch it if you simply cannot go on living without knowing who kicked, threw, hit, or smacked the ball, puck, or whatever. I mean, where’s the nightly Monopoly update? I got to 34 rounds of Endless Vasebreaker in Plants Vs. Zombies; that took quite some determination and willingness to ignore more important things. I Googled it, and some people have gone over 70 rounds! Where is the media coverage of this astounding feat of the triumph of obsession over reason?
Obsession Robs Men of Reason.
I understand the role of sports as a means of stress release in an overly stressed world, but obsessing over it to the point that we need to have “news” coverage is just creating a new point of stress, a new obsession, an excuse not to think about something real. When Lewis Black did a concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, he noted as he was given his tour (which included Neyland Stadium where the University of Tennessee football team plays) that he got the impression it was like Jesus himself was buried there (Yes, I know, but Mr. Black was raised Jewish; cut him some slack.) by the reverence with which the football field was mentioned. I went to UT; I saw the way students there for an education are shunted aside any time those boys want to play with their balls, so Mr. Black was not guilty of hyperbole! I wish I could find that interview and give you the direct quote with attribution, but I promise I’m remembering it correctly since it was strange hearing my own thoughts expressed in Lewis Black’s voice.
Psst, Hey, Did you Hear…?
Celebrity Gossip: Well, that’s precisely what it is. Remember when you were in fifth grade, and you whispered about the perfect kid everyone was jealous of? Remember taking such satisfaction in seeing that beautiful girl walk in with toilet paper on her shoe? The popularity of celebrity gossip proves that a great number of people never matured beyond that point. I love watching television and movies. I love music. But I don’t care whom these people date. I don’t care if they get divorced. Sometimes celebrities, both sports figures and entertainment icons, support causes or discuss an issue in their personal lives, using the reach their fame provides to help make a point; that is different. Then, the point they address is newsworthy; their celebrity status is the bait to attract more fatuous viewers to give attention to a serious topic they would otherwise ignore.
How are these dots connected to me?
I teach literature, and this obsession with the trivialities of life is one of the themes of The Hunger Games. Collins takes on our culture’s obsession with watching people fight and fail, and our desire to replace thinking about anything of substance with things we embue with false gravity. Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss in the film version of the books said that she viewed “The Hunger Games primarily as an indictment of our obsession with reality television. ‘I was watching the Kardashian girl getting divorced, and that’s a tragedy for anyone,’ she said. ‘But they’re using it for entertainment, and we’re watching it. The books hold up a terrible kind of mirror: This is what our society could be like if we became desensitized to trauma and to each other’s pain'” (qtd. in LATimes).
I remember watching the news when it was intended to inform viewers about local and world events. I even remember watching In the News, a Saturday morning news show for kids anchored by Christopher Glenn. It was just short segments, but I found it interesting and informative. It was easy to understand, but never simplistic or insulting to kids.
My parents used to talk about current events at dinner; those current events never had anything to do with which celebrity was marrying which other celebrity’s husband as soon as the divorce was final. My dad watches football and racing, but he isn’t upset if he misses a game; it isn’t an obsession.
Below I have a video of one of the In the News segments that I watched growing up. Maybe it’s why I did grow up.