Fluff overload: We're in it
The Yahoo! homepage is on the laptop or smartphone, and you're ready to check your email. Before you can sign in, you see news of the day. You read “the latest” aloud to a friend:
“Miley Cyrus has something to say about twerking. Casting shockers (!) for the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey' movie. U.S. military action against Syria… Ooh! A Kardashian did something! Hmm … foods that naturally whiten teeth!”
“Whoa! What now?” the friend responds as you begin to repeat the offerings. “No, no, not Fifty Shades. That Kardashian thing.”
As seen on the cover of the Tribune-Review and in most other news outlets, the United States is considering military action against a country whose government stands accused of using nerve gas to kill its citizens, including hundreds of children. Such stories rarely become the most-popular or most-read on news sites these days.
One of the most popular videos on CNN is about how President Obama put his feet on his desk in the Oval Office, and it offended some people. I know, right? How could he?
Here we are, on the brink of military action, which should spur much more serious questions: Using nerve gas on innocents is horrible, but why is it up to the United States to step up? Aren't other countries with capable military forces also capable of outrage and action?
Good questions. And though it's not necessary to spend every moment reading about weightier issues of the day, at least we should show more interest in Syria than in Kelly Ripa's hairstyle.
Pittsburghers are focused on another monumental event: the Pirates dispatching the demons of 20 losing seasons. The first 10 trending Twitter topics in Pittsburgh as of noon Wednesday were about the Pirates, according to the online service Trendsmap, which tracks popular topics in real time. Topic No. 11 was Bill Nye, one of the new Dancing with the Stars contestants.
Does this make anyone else nervous? I asked Matthew Donahue, a Ph.D. lecturer and instructor at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University's Department of Popular Culture, about America's seeming fascination with fluff. He and I reviewed CNN's home page together and discussed news of the day, including a story about the reflection from glass windows of a London skyscraper that partially melted a car.
“On one hand, there is a socially conscious public out there,” Donahue said. “But what the mainstream media is throwing down people's throats is entertainment and celebrity — and it is a major distraction.”
Donahue said he thinks change will come. When people realize the seriousness of the Syria situation, for example, their focus likely will turn quickly to more important news, he said.
Right now, though, Donahue compared the major media obsession with celebrity news to the Bruce Springsteen song, “57 Channels (and Nothin' On).”
“Except now … there are now 157 channels, and nothing is still on. Yet, we are still watching.”
Nafari Vanaski is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates win bidding for Korean infielder
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Steelers’ Beachum, Williams hurting but could play vs. Bengals
- Blues-rock singer Joe Cocker dead at 70
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Judge holds for trial 1 charge of theft against Pittsburgh homicide detective
- Marcellus driller Vantage Energy to pay nearly $1M for Greene County well problems
- Penguins’ Sutter, Downie, Greiss being tested for mumps, out tonight
- North Korea experiencing severe Internet outages
- North Side drug den can be demolished, judge says
- Steelers offense learning to slam door