While cleaning out my backpack on the last school day before break, I came upon something that induced a bit of déjà vu. A copy of People magazine poked out of the front zipper compartment, the glossy cover an open invitation to the snark and gleefully nasty articles inside.
The bold print flashed like a coming attraction, and the “Sandra and Jessie Split!!” cover promised much gossip. No details were held to advertize that this was important news, down to the double exclamation point. Yet its blaring cover story seemed a little familiar.
And then I realized: I had seen almost the same exact headline last month, except it was about Tiger Woods. Or was it Kanye? No, it was definitely DavidLettermanJohnEdwardsChristianBaleChrisBrownJonandKateJeremyPivenBallonBoy. Right? To make a bit of an understatement, this year has been so full of pop-culture scandals, they have all seemed to blend together.
Our media fixation on this issue reflects much about our culture. We take pleasure in reading about the plight of others, either for a good story to tell, or because beautiful people having emotional trauma makes us feel somewhat superior.
Unfortunately, our generation has become jaded to the fact that these scandals are extraordinarily outrageous. Similar to how the more times you watch R-rated movies, the less you flinch when someone is shot in the head, the more we all read about repulsively devious husbands/wives, the less we notice how horrible these scandals are.
But at the bottom of it all, these people have become famous simply for outraging the public enough to end up in a magazine. I bet anyone at Latin can tell you the names of Jon and Kate Gosselin’s eight children, but I doubt most people could name the top ten CNN heroes of this year. I can rattle off exactly how many mistresses Tiger Woods had (apparently nine), but I was unable to recall who the ninth president of the United States was (William Henry Harrison).
Not only does the broadcast of celebrity scandal influence our common knowledge; just as art imitates life, magazine gossip is emulated in real conversation. Us Latin students all have ‘learned’ that it is okay to target someone with a missile attack of words, and therefore we feel free to pass around stories of our friends’ personal wrongdoings like a tissue box during flu season. Sadly, this attitude can have serious consequences. A student commented that “the gossip at this school is ridiculous; so many rumors are started for such stupid reasons… and the people at the center of the gossip have to face so much anger.”
If these scandals cause so much backlash in a small private school, it is hard to imagine how hard it is for people in the public eye. We all know how much drama these celebrity scandals can cause, and by talking about them, we are in effect causing much of the spectacle these stories create (and also further contributing to their fame).
Though many have simply argued that to prevent the downward spiral caused by scandal and gossip, we should simply not talk about it. But for our generation, this is far easier said than done. With our Internet, iPhones, instant messengers, and email, celebrity scandal is not going to be spread any less in the near future, and quite frankly neither is Latin School gossip. Perhaps next year, looking back, I will remember more current events not having to do with the front page of a People magazine. Maybe my months will be measured in good deeds instead of good cover story leads. Until then, I can only hope. Although in the meantime, we can all help out pop culture by finally forgetting about DavidLettermanJohnEdwardsChristianBaleChrisBrownJonandKateJeremyPivenBallonBoy.]]>