The Value of Celebrity News
Why Celebrity News is an Asset
A Shortage of Newsworthiness
Why Celebrity News Hurts Awareness
January 28th, 2018
John Stuart Mill, one of the most influential British philosophers of the 19th century, noted: “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”
We, as consumers of news media, must be aware. To ignore the myriad misfortunes in our world is to be the pig satisfied—to ignore what Socrates is aware of. But what some people might mistake this philosophy with is the idea that we should avoid all pleasure in the face of plight. But this logic is mislead and naive. Yes, as Mill says, it may is better to be a human dissatisfied, but who could pass being a human, satisfied? I sure couldn’t. And what this means is that every once in a while, instead of reading up on the latest mass shooting or terrorist attack, keeping up with the Kardashians might not be the worst idea.
Distraction is a valuable aspect of our mental health. After a bad day at school or work, we aren’t made happier by trying to fix whatever went wrong that day. We distract ourselves. Engaging in anything that absorbs our attention is a more efficient as a technique in dealing with grief and upsetness than many might think. One of the chief factors of distress in life is the now-constant stream of negative news. Murder, terrorism, drugs, war, poverty, disease. They plague our world, and we aren’t ignoring them—but this kind of news is unprecedented in human society, and we are not prepared to deal with it. At least not without distraction.
This distraction can be done through the exact same medium with celebrity news. Some critique this kind of news for its superficiality, but it’s authenticity is not in question. In question is its efficacy to ease troubled minds, and celebrity news is very efficient at this. Celebrity news surpasses other forms of distraction in its relatability to both young and old: like music, or a series of books, celebrities serve as conversation topics. But in a growing industrial and mobile society, music and literature are ever diversifying, and it is becoming harder and harder to relate over them. People are constantly moving around, changing, meeting new people. Being up to date with the life of a famous actor, singer, or athlete could mean the difference in making an important new connection with a stranger.
Another facet of celebrity news that other forms of distraction lack is the kind of role model they offer to young people. Celebrities offer inspiration and various life strategies to those who follow them, and they surpass other kinds of role models in that they represent a kind of role model that is more tangible and real than any character in a book. The simple fact that they are real people makes the celebrity ever more inspiring than any kind of fictional character.
It is also important to address the fear that reading celebrity news could lead to less political awareness. But keeping up with celebrity news does not take away from reading political and world news. The tasks are separate, and we all do things beside reading the news. Keeping up with celebrities is a distraction, not a replacement, for more pressing issues. In fact, celebrity news can actually be a factor in higher political awareness. When celebrity news is in the same places as other kinds of news, someone who doesn’t pay attention to these other kinds of news might be encouraged to start reading more and become more aware than before.
The focus of this issue should not be the reduction or prohibition of celebrity news. Akin to taking away other forms of art, limiting access to celebrity news is not American. Freedom of access to information is a right, and if the issue is political awareness, our job should be to find ways to encourage more people to spend more time paying attention to what is more “newsworthy.” Our job should not be limiting rights in access to other forms of information that are worthy in their own right, whether that be through their efficacy in distraction or in guidance.
No one wants to be a pig. But no one wants to be executed for corrupting the youth, as Socrates was, either. We are not philosophers, and we do not have a responsibility to depress ourselves by only thinking of the problems with our world. It is important to distract, and celebrity news is a great tool for this.
Newsworthiness is… newsworthy. In this new age of technology, media is at the peak of its accessibility by readers and writers alike. The whole world can now know something in a matter of minutes after it happens. One difficulty with all of this accessibility is making decisions on what should be shared globally, and, of the millions of stories we could spend our time reading, which should we pick? When scrolling through major media providers, a reader can find celebrity news right alongside news of terror attacks, bombing, epidemics, and political catastrophes. While this is not necessarily bad, it places a lot of responsibility on the reader to choose what articles to read
When Ed Sheeran’s engagement is placed right next to a story about conflict in Syria, it is hard to know what that means. It almost seems that the media provider is placing the same amount of importance (“TOP STORY”) on both events. The more desirable topic to learn about is probably the celebrity news—Ed Sheeran’s engagement—and as a reader, it is more pleasant to simply pick that story to read. When celebrity news is so present, readers can gravitate toward those stories and not only miss out on staying informed on everything else going on, but also become completely oblivious to the strife all around the world.
It makes sense to read celebrity news as distraction from the mournful news, but the best way to achieve distraction can be more diverse than reading about the drama and romances of the few people whom we consider celebrities. There is nothing wrong with enjoying happy news, such as an engagement, but we do not have to be limited to celebrities. Regular, non-famous people do not often make the news. However, if the news is to offer a diverse perspective of the globe, there should be stories of love and loss, victory and failure, stories of the small towns that make up a large portion of the globe. All that is interesting is not limited to the hot political and cinematic scenes, and I would like to read local stories from somewhere far away. Global news can include local news from around the globe.
Spending significant amounts of time reading about celebrities can give us relatable experiences, but it can also make us think that somehow our lives are supposed to model those who are always in the news. It is not healthy to think this way, and it is not healthy to think that one life is more important than another simply because one person is more famous than another. Why is one couple’s engagement global news, but another’s is not? Global attention can be difficult for celebrities and their families as well. They are certainly entitled to a certain level of privacy, and constantly discussing their personal affairs is unfair.
It is only natural to want to avoid thinking about suffering in the world, but we can only resolve problems if we acknowledge them. Educating ourselves empowers us to help, but never learning
about the problems only perpetuates them. If we read only celebrity news, the age that is supposed to be the most connected yet will only separate us into bubbles of thinking only about what is
pleasant. Neglecting global awareness narrows our minds and reduces our abilities to empathize with others and understand that bad things and good things are happening all the time. Celebrity
news is fun and a big part of the world, but it is important to stay connected to the entire world. With the Internet in our pockets, we have the ability to do this. Let’s get reading!