The media pay too much attention to the private lives of celebrities, says managing editor David Donovan. They do it to sell us things and to keep us ignorant.
It is an unfashionable view in media circles but, like most Australians, I am not the slightest bit interested in the private lives of celebrities, the well connected, or the rich and famous.
I couldn't care less what they get up to. In all honesty, I wouldn't look out the window if I was told a celebrity was in my street, let alone go downstairs to get a closer look. To me, they are just people I don't know. Well, apart from the ones I do happen to know.
The importance of celebrity is vastly overrated by the media. Most people aren’t interested, but you can’t get away from it because the media offers celebrity “news” constantly on every station until you can’t help but become conversant in the private goings on of these people. It is literally jammed down your throat, even though it has almost no intrinsic news value at all.
Of course, in truth it is actually a con-job to extract money from our wallets and to keep us from thinking about what’s really important.
I have met my fair share of celebrities around the traps—actors, actresses, sports people, writers, musicians, politicians and such like. None of them stand out as being as anything particularly exceptional. Just ordinary people doing their thing. To be honest, they are no more interesting than the people you would bump into on a Thursday afternoon at your local Woolworths. Being self-obsessed and conceited, as many of them have become, generally leads to less interesting conversation— unless you are as fascinated with them as they are with themselves, which I never am.
It’s true that some, though by no means all, celebrities have a skill that gets them noticed by the media. They might be able to sing, dance, swim, run or paint well, for example. But if you went down to the Woolies crowd, you would find that each one of them had a special gift as well. Almost everyone does something really well.
In short, celebrities are just ordinary people put in extraordinary situations by the media. And most of the rubbish you read about them is downright fiction written by their PR people.
The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, however, is even less interesting. Some might say that it is important because he is an heir to our throne. But by the time his turn comes around – in, say, 30 years – we will well and truly be a republic—you can count on that. So, not much relevance at all.
No, the only interesting thing about royalty, and aristocracy in general, is that they have a long and colourful family tree and are generally well off. The wedding of a part-time helicopter pilot to a…well, I’m not exactly sure what Kate Middleton does—is she unemployed? Anyway, the wedding of a rich well-connected playboy to a spoilt rich girl whose only real claim to fame is that she sank her pincers deeply into some dilettante when she was at university is less interesting to me, and most people I know, than my son’s collection of interesting twigs. Much less, in fact—one of his sticks looks a lot like John Howard!
And, I believe most people feel the same way. Many people will watch it because of the endless promotion we have been force-fed for months now.
Oh my goodness, they have attended an event somewhere in England together.
Many will watch it because their curiosity has been piqued. A lot will tune in because there won’t be much else on, since it will probably be screened on four of the main free-to-air channels. Most people will probably just go to bed.
What a lot of hype for no purpose.
The Australian media contingent being sent to cover this event in London is said to top 100 and Channel Nine are sending over 40 on their own. What a despicable waste of resources when there are important and interesting events happening all over the globe that should be covered in preference to this. How many crew are in Libya? How many will be analysing the next budget? What is Channel Nine’s commitment to bringing us credible information about global warming? Running investigations into organised crime and Government corruption? Nowhere near 40, you can be damned certain of that.
Of course, the powers that be – the big corporations, the political parties and the media – want us to be disengaged from what is really happening, so that's why the continually serve up this sort of low-grade nonsense.
For the mass media, they want us to be interested in celebrities so we keep watching their TV shows and movies, keep buying their cheap supermarket magazines and whatever merchandise they have the celebrities selling or product placing this week. For the media, promoting celebrity is largely a self-interested commercial decision.
For the political parties – represented by politicians – and big corporations...well, they want to maintain the comfortable status quo that keeps them in power and to keep us ignorant about the activities they would prefer us not to know about.
To paraphrase the words of perhaps Australia’s most interesting twig, they want us all to be “relaxed and comfortable”. Read that to mean brain-dead coach potatoes.
Only by us turning our attention away from what they are doing behind our backs, and focusing it onto something trivial – like sport, celebrity news, reality TV, competitive cooking shows, royal weddings – can they work unimpeded at removing our democratic rights, entrenching their power and feathering their mates’ nests for their own future gain.
They're stealing our wallets while we stare zombie-like at Funniest Home Videos...or a foreign royal wedding.
It’s the old two card trick. We are being conned.
The thought that 100 Australian journalists and crew will be covering the royal wedding, at the exclusion of other vitally important world events, is an outrage and an insult to all of us.
Luckily most people are not stupid. Now we have alternative media and a savvy new generation that are more in tune and in touch with what is really going on. I see this as helping society move beyond being controlled like a herd animal by the mass media and into a new world of understanding.
A generation that will look for and find the truth, rather than accept a choice between product/party/philosophy A and product/party/philosophy B. Things that turn out to be, on closer inspection, the same stuff with different labels.
A generation that won’t accept the bland and unappealling TV dinner we have been force-fed for 50 years.
In the meantime, we will be given events like the royal wedding.