Talking 'Bout My Generation

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ENTERTAINMENT AS NEWS, NEWS AS ENTERTAINMENT

Man oh man, do we love our entertainment news. Lohan, fresh out or rehab, seen entering a club with her new beau, a fellow addict and previously engaged man. Spears booked for her hit and run at a local LA police station.

These are the things that make the top news stories these days. Why? Because people watch it. People are fascinated by it. These people don't care to hear about how many of their fellow countryman died yesterday in the Iraq war, or whether the 1915 massacre of the Armenians was ruled a Genocide, or even how women's health rates have declined across most US States. These things aren't funny or entertaining like celebrity news stories. On the contrary, they're problematic and disconcerting.

This isn't to say that people don't care about these issues. Such is not the case, but the complacent American public, in general, seems more content to leave these bigger issues up to the policiticians to report on and resolve, while they kick back and turn up Entertainment Tonight.

CNN, MSNBC, and FOX NEWS reports on Paris Hilton

Still, you might be surprised by how much these young purveyors of culture actually do keep up on what's going on beyond the gossip. Sure their primary news source isn't CSPAN or MSNBC (who continually headline these same celebrity stories that comprise the gossip mags), but rather Comedy Central. Yep, you heard me right. If people want entertainment news, well then give them news thats entertaining. Shows like "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" ultimately serve as major world and national news sources of my generation.

Through all the witty banter and political jeers, a kind of real authentic news sources does emerge. Lately, its not uncommon to hear discussions of General Petraus's report before Congress or the rise in value of the canadian dollar over its US counterpart. These are serious military and economic issues that took the forefront of the young american consciousness primarily through these "fake news" stations. Sure, we love to laugh at Fox News' depiction of lapel-pin-free Obama as "anti-american," but its more about laughing at the absurdity of politics in general while soaking in the basis for major political issues. The difficulty here, and the reason this form of "fake news" thrives, is that my generation values authenticity and politics are anything but. It may seem like an oxymoron for an authenticity-loving generation to turn to a "fake news" network, but it makes practical sense. The shows themselves and their commentators, the great Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, are able to mock themselves and their shows, they don't have the stiff effrontery of their real news counterparts; therein lies its authentic value. We can laugh at the absurdity, the apparently insanity of it all, while still getting our daily information dose.
posted by Megan Anhalt at 2:03 PM

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