What Is Wrong With Our Culture?

What is it about our culture that makes us care so much about one dead pop star, and so little about so many others? Why do you have to go back two hours on Twitter to get twenty mentions of the Uyghurs, but you only have to go back one minute (!) to get twenty mentions of Michael Jackson?

Twice today I counted the occurrences of the word “Jackson” on cnn.com. The first reading caught twenty-seven instances. The second reading caught twenty instances. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China/Uyghurs got one mention each at most, and all mentions were pushed down to a much less prominent part of the page.

Our mass media is broken in that it promotes insignificant stories and neglects extremely important stories. It is also broken in that the stories themselves are filled with propaganda. But the mass media isn’t the only thing that is broken. Our culture is broken in that, when people go to cnn.com and see it plastered with “MICHAELJACKSONMICHAELJACKSONMICHAELJACKSON” they don’t have a mental gag reflex that says, “What the hell is this? I came to this website to see the news, not this crap. Surely there is a better source of news. I am going to go look for that source right NOW.”

What is it that causes this blatant disregard for the rest of the world, the significant things that are occurring in this world, the horrible injustices that are being carried out, many of them in our names?

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  • i think there’s a lot to be said for MJ — maybe not the entire corporate media forgetting about the rest of the world — but the dude was definitely someone/something special. Black & White, man! 🙂

    besides, his coverage pisses off wingnuts — that’s pretty cool, in my book.

    i haven’t read this article yet by Hedges, but seems like it might be good:


    Our economic crisis—despite the corporate media circus around the death of Michael Jackson or Gov. Mark Sanford’s marital infidelity or the outfits of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest incarnation, Brüno—barrels forward. And this crisis will lead to a period of profound political turmoil and change. Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor must begin to mobilize quickly or we will lose our last opportunity to save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to demonize movements of social change and empower proto-fascist movements such as the Christian right.

  • @shmooth: I agree with you that MJ isn’t entirely irrelevant, but yeah, just pointing out that the whole thing is entirely overblown, like you said “the entire corporate media forgetting about the rest of the world.”