I spoke today to two former broadcast news co-workers, both still in mainstream media, one in television news and the other in network radio, both imprisoned in Santa Maria, California until there is a verdict in the all-important Michael Jackson trial.
I asked both the obvious -- how likely is it that Jackson is treated to the obligatory California celebrity acquittal? -- and both acknowledged that is what they expect. They also agreed with me the verdict is destined to reinforce the cynicism and apathy of "We The People", resigned as too many of us are to living in a country where the rich, the famous and the too-well-connected-to-get-hurt simply pay their legal fees and move on to bigger media exposures.
If there is any momentum building toward a legitimate revolt in the blogosphere, it must necesssarily include a seroius look at how we worship celebrity. Oprah as God, Paris Hilton as sex goddess, Michael Jackson as a martyr to persecution -- no wonder we have given new meaning around the world to the phrase "Ugly American". No wonder our teenagers have body issues and anxiety disorders like never before. They feel voiceless in the new order, the one in which mainstream media have been castrated by conservative ownership and relegated to sycophantic coverage of "celebrities", muzzled on serious issues by an administration which doesn't mind showing the world we really needn't concern ourselves with the health of our planet or the future of our children.
I write these words with a renewed sense of my own vulnerability as a very minor celebrity with a small but inescapable disability. I've always had a love/hate relationship with both these realities in my life. I sit here, trying to type with one digit, recovering too slowly from a bone infection in the only opposing thumb the universe saw fit to give me. It's given me new kinship with the voiceless, being one step closer to the animal kingdom as long as my left paw is all bandaged up.
I feel sorry for the voiceless creatures who are forced to emigrate or die by the global warming the administration says doesn't exist. I feel even sadder for our young people who have chosen not to care about politics because they take their cue from mainstream media, which direct their attention away from real issues and toward "events" like the Jackson trial. Shut out of the world of celebrity, big money, warmongering and political deceit, they burrow inside themselves and focus on the torture of their own narcissism. It's the only place they feel empowered.
Ted Turner says he is ashamed of what CNN has become. Does anyone at CNN care about that? Or are they too busy waiting for the verdict?