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Tabloid Media Claims Another Victim

August 4, 2009

I’m not going to mention his name and risk getting a lot of traffic I don’t want, but you can probably figure it out. It’s been more than a month since he died, and several celebrities have died since then, but he’s the only one who still shows up in the news every day. And the irony is, I think he might still be alive if the media wasn’t so obsessed with him.

They keep looking for sensational angles: drugs, conspiracies, murder. Not really any different from when he was alive. But they never quite get to asking the question, “Why?” Because if they did, the obvious answer would be that he wasn’t comfortable having every detail of his life reported in the media. He hadn’t looked healthy in years, the stress was clearly wearing him down. Maybe there was some other factor that was the immediate cause of death, but odds are that he didn’t have much time left regardless.

Fame may be a double-edged sword, but that shouldn’t be the same as carte blanche to take away every last vestige of someone’s privacy. Every celebrity seems to have a different level of tolerance for the prying eyes, but the thing about the tabloid media is that it’s their job to cross the line and go where the celebrity doesn’t want them. That’s the only way they can get their Exclusive! Shocking! Scoops! Celebrities these days are probably under tighter surveillance than any criminal.

The consumers can’t claim total innocence either. Somebody did buy enough of that tabloid media to keep it profitable, so the cycle of sensationalism continues. A classic case of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, where everybody had a hand on the axe. But in that tale you can’t discount the role of the instigator that sets things in motion.

The media always defends itself by saying they’re only giving the people what they want. I’ve always thought that’s a bit of a cop out. They spend plenty of money marketing that stuff, convincing people that what they want is what they’re being given. If something doesn’t sell now, the solution is always to up the shock value. And then the mob mentality of the competition drives everything straight to the bottom.

Anyone who blames the media for their problems is automatically dismissed. When you blame the media for reporting something false, everyone assumes that the report is actually true and you just wanted to keep it hidden. It’s a not-so-inside joke, to the point where the media is always happy to note that someone is blaming them. But there are other ways they can do harm besides misreporting. The issue isn’t always truth vs. lies, sometimes it’s triviality. Just because they have a bunch of facts they can report doesn’t mean that information has any value to the viewer. Maybe if they pulled back just a bit, the public wouldn’t really miss that stuff and the celebrities could live longer, happier lives.

Yeah, I know. Fat chance.

P. S. I never really had any interest in his music. But it’s kind of bugging me how even after he’s dead, they’ll use any excuse to get his name in a story, just to try and sell their product.

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