Jordan and Obama: Exclusive Pictures!

From the Telegraph, ironically

From the Telegraph, ironically

‘Big, fat, hairy deal.’ That’s not a quote from the papers last week about G20 leaders capping bankers’ bonuses. Mainly because newspapers are not Garfield, but also because the media have, with the help of patrons like Rupert Murdoch, overcome their silly obsession with truth and replaced it with a far healthier obsession with celebrities, trivia, mindless anger and breasts. Sometimes all at once.

Big issues, questions of truth, and (the primary justification for press freedom) holding the powerful to account – giving citizens the information they need to vote intelligently – these things are either ignored or simplified into soundbite irrelevance. They are not as interesting, apparently, as the ‘he-said, she-said’ high-school melodrama that passed for news last week over whether Obama and Brown are ‘still in love’.

No, in today’s media, personalities trump policies and celebrity break-ups, boob-jobs and binge-sessions beat examinations of our society’s core values almost every time, so why would the press identify the G20 news as a red herring?

After all, when a radio show in which the most serious issues of the day are given a maximum of five minutes’ coverage is the flagship of thorough engagement with thought-provoking issues and no-one thinks that’s shallow, we’re in a bad way.

And let’s be fair: the media may well have stooped to a low level, but it was our level, after all. We buy, watch and listen to this rubbish, avoiding anything serious that cannot be reduced to a one-sentence quote or a caricature polemic and then act startled when that is the majority of even what serious media outlets produce.

You can only chuckle so long at how hateful the Daily Mail is before you have to actually decide never to buy it again, no matter how good the free DVD is. Women can only complain so many times of being treated like airheads before they really have to reconsider ever buying Cosmo or other such drivel again. We can only claim, as Christians, to care about the world, if the media we consume cover something other than the exclusively Christian ‘world’ of worship leaders, female minister debates and the latest charismatic controversy.

Because if my favourite magazine is either a glorified gadget catalogue or a publicity brochure (complete with reviews) for Hollywood or the music industry, I am not helping. If it’s a buyers’-guide to what new cosmetics and new clothes (they must always be new, the GDP and animal testing labs around the world depend on it) will make you less of a failure as a woman, you are not helping. If the paper we habitually buy is more concerned with Jordan the glamour model than Jordan the home of the terrorist captured in America last week, then we are part of the problem.

The papers and media, in their role as our watchdogs and our voice should have said of the bonuses issue, not just occasionally, but in big, bold, Maddy-level letters, followed up by pages of argument and real investigation: ‘This is not enough. This entire system is rotten. You are just throwing us a bone, not changing anything. You’re about to cut public spending on human beings in order to buy WMDs. We can see what you’re doing and we won’t stand for it. We’re not idiots.’

But they didn’t. And we sit placidly by. So we probably are.

Here’s a bit from Jon Stewart’s America, which you should either read or listen to, about the Media. Funny but not clean 🙂


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