The Bishop Is Crossing aka To be or not to be... A Kardashian: How does celebrity for celebrity sake
Recently I posted a rhetorical question on Twitter/Facebook saying "How do we raise daughters to value an education when so many young women are making good money as "Instagram models?". Well that sparked a nice exchange about morality, self-esteem and the like. Which I found slightly disturbing and sexist even coming from women who describe themselves as "feminist' were reduced to slut shaming in part. But the post got me thinking about the macro impact of our celebrity culture.
From our politics to our economy the “look” is more important than what is tangible. How do we continue into the next century when flash and sizzle is more important than what is in the pot? It is obvious that America is more concerned with being entertained then being governed. We want someone that makes us feel good about ourselves rather than one that encourages us to improve our station in this world. We prefer to be titillated then educated or informed and that is very dangerous in today’s troubling times. The rise of Donald Trump as a viable candidate for President should give us all pause. I don't think Trump's front runner status is merely due to his celebrity status, there is something to be said for today's political climate craving someone who doesn’t appear tethered to the oligarchs or the status quo. But we must admit his entertainment value helps.
This “Political Entertainment” culture isn't anything really new. It goes back to Ronald Regan and arguably back to John F. Kennedy. In the modern era Bill Clinton & Barack Obama both ascended to the Presidency because they looked and sounded good on Television. However Regan, Clinton and Obama at least had some substance. These new bunch of presidential contestants at least on the Right have none. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and the bunch all have the depth of understanding in regards to history and current events as a gold fish. The state of affairs are so dire that Kanye West can announce his presidential run on an award show not for this cycle but for the next Presidential cycle of 2020 and people actually think he is serious.
Kanye West Announcement for the 2020 Presidency
We are not a serious people anymore.
Since the 90s when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act in 1996, the "News" was allowed to be placed for the first time under the "entertainment division" of networks. The result was the news then became a source of revenue unlike before when it was simply considered something broadcasting companies had to produce to maintain their charter under FCC regulations. Now arguably news divisions becoming profit centers began in the 70s way before Clinton. The legendary movie "Network" illustrates how the media plays on fear and sensationalism for ratings and really foreshadows what would eventually become 40 years later. But in my opinion the Clinton law allowed infotainment to not only be legal and open but put it on steroids.
Well what does that have to do with the Kardashians? News producers no longer produce the news the people need but they produce the news the people want. In a sense the news has now become reality television. When you try and get someone to watch alternative news such as Free Speech TV, RT or Democracy Now etc. folk would say something to the effect of; “those programs are boring” or “I can’t get into that”. I had someone say to me that said they prefer to watch Fox News over the rest because CNN and MSNBC are boring. Now I agree complex issues should be delivered in a manner that holds the audience's attention but what the mainstream media does all too often is to play to our base instincts. Violence, sex, gossip and of course fear is always the lead. Last week when the Daily News front cover was the last moments of that terrified young journalist Alison Parker’s life proves that the media has no shame.
But it’s what we want. They say art imitates life as well as to reflect culture but now our news and political discourse has become an "art".
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has constantly chided media outlets for their focus on scandals and optics instead of real concreate issues. The Senator is constantly baited into attacking Presidential rival Hilleary Clinton or Republicans on insignificant issues. Some people say Senator Sanders looks "cranky and turns the voter off". In contrast Donald Trump or Ted Cruz never misses an opportunity to make character attacks or jokes about someone. The cameras love it and many voters love it as well. Unfortunately this is where we are at as a society. We lack substance and depth in all things we have become a "Candy Crush culture”. We are obsessed with likes and shares over substance and longevity. Even our economy is hollow. This new "share" or “freelance economy” is not sustainable. The Federal Reserve keeps interests rates low in an attempt to keep the economy stimulated. However the effect is that corporate CEOs, CFOs, Presidents etc. instruct corporations to buy their own stock for cheap based on these low interest rates. Then stocks are given to executives as part of their salary this inflates the stock price then they cash in for huge profits.
It’s all about the look. While reading a New York Times article about the August Job numbers, I was taking a back when the author mentioned that even a “slight uptick” in interest rates would be bad for the “Psychology” of the market. It is unfortunately all junk food, where are the meat and potatoes? The Emperor truly has no clothes. Everyone knows the old fairy tale about the naked Emperor strutting around bare and no one said a word until one day a small child pointed it out and then he lost his power. Even more analogous to our current situation is The Wizard of OZ. The wizard was no wizard at all but he positioned himself as great and powerful. In other words he hustled. America loves the "hustler" we admire people who hustle. Hustlers were once considered low lives because everyone new in order to be a successful “hustler” you would be harming someone else either financially or worse. Today it’s embraced.
Jay-Z made “Hustler” a good thing
When did the “Great Gatsby” become the hero and not the fool to be pitied?
Adam Smith said the wealth of a nation is based on its ability to take raw materials and produce goods of value which can then be sold to others. This more and more is no longer the case for the American economy. On a macro level our economy is all for show and all about gaming other people out of their money.
You have Wall Street speculation of basic commodities (oil, food, etc.), inflation of the stock market, and elimination of pension funds in favor or IRAs which is then gambled in the market. Then you have the intellectual property “shell game” where law firms or “venture capital” firms buy up patents of things that haven't been created yet or are on the verge of being invented and then charge the inventor a huge fee for that patent or trademark. Even worse this practice is a major focus of big pharmaceutical or tech firms which then enter into unfair partnerships with the inventors.
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” (Scene from Network)
Because we as a country no longer produce anything the world buys accept of course our weapons and our entertainment; which by the way is a policy choice by our elected officials that has been continuous for the past 30 years. Because of our lack of a manufacturing base we must resort to selling each other crap or setting up situations where the average person has no choice but to pay for or buy into things they don't need. You see this unscrupulous behavior on its most basic level with these "multi-level marketing" aka pyramid schemes that suck in poor and working people then force them to bother and harass their friends and family in an effort to sell “legal aid” or cheap or bogus financial instruments. This practice use to be reserved for Tupperware or cosmetics which people would only venture in such practices side money now increasingly folk think they will get rich or consider “multi-level marketing” scams a viable employment option mainly because the economy is so bad.
Because of the stagnant economy we also must contend with debt collectors who buy debt at pennies on the dollar and try and go after people. Moreover, we have predatory lending companies that charge formally illegal interest rates which lock the poor and working class in a cycle of debt and repayment. In addition the new “thing” is sub-prime business loans which I am sure is trading on the derivative market in the same manner as houses were back in 2006 and 2007.
Worst of all in my opinion are the companies who buy installment based settlements from victims for a fraction of what the ultimate value of the settlement would be.
These are all indications of a society that is sick and frankly faking it until they make it. We must take a serious and sober look at the very foundation of our society and fast. Our schools are no longer interested in teaching history, critical thinking, creativity or even science. They focus only on math and reading only and in some states "Christian” religion. This is dangerous to the long term survival not only of our nation but arguably our species as this new educational practice is beginning to make its way around the globe.
Barbara asked the question and got the answer..
Years ago Barbara Walters asked frankly of the Kardashian clan during an interview: "What is it that you do? You don’t really act, you don’t sing or dance you have no talent. Khloe’s response was; “We are still entertaining people..”
That pretty much sums up our state of affairs.. - J-Didda
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