Thursday, August 24, 2006

All the 'News' That Isn't Fit to Print

When standing with his mother and me in supermarket checkout lines, my son delights in reading to us the headlines in the tabloids displayed beside the cash registers. You know, those disgusting rags that trumpet lies like "Teen Mother Gives Birth to Pups," or "Tom Cruise Behaves Like a Fool." Hmmm... I guess even a tabloid headline can be truthful on occasion. At least Sumner Redstone seems to think so, about Tom Cruise and his behaviour.

Many tabloid headlines are at worst absolute hogwash, and at best gross distortions of the truth.

"How can they get away with saying things like that?" asks my son.

How indeed.

The reality is that fighting nonsense like this is rarely worth the time, trouble and expense. Most of what is said in the tabloids is so ridiculous that no sane person would grant it any credibility anyway.

The more important issue, I think, is what my son noticed too. A lot of the stories are about well-known politicians, actors, musicians, and other luminaries and they are invariably unfavourable, critical, and often libellous. What is it that makes tabloids fill their pages with such horrible drivel?

Why, that is what the readers want, of course!

My wife explained her theory on the subject to my son. Many people, she said, are envious of others. They resent the fact that others are, (choose any combination, or all of the following:) more handsome, more beautiful, wealthier, sexier, smarter, or more famous. Rather than exerting themselves to remedy whatever deficiencies in themselves they have some control over, these people choose instead to tear others down. It's easier and faster. Yes, I know that not every woman can give herself movie star looks. Nor can any man bestow easily upon himself the grace and speed of an accomplished athlete. But, everyone can read a book, take a course, work harder and longer, or do any number of things that might help improve their lot in life. No, that is too hard, too much work. It is easier to tear others down and then to revel in the resultant misery.

Unhappy? Make your neighbour unhappy too. And don't forget your spouse and your children, your lover, your doctor and your dentist. Spread the misery. Misery loves company, after all.

Me? I don't like misery. I would rather lift people up than tear them down. I would much rather interact with happy people. Am I being pollyannaish?


I don't care. Why walk around with a scowl when I could be smiling instead?


  1. I completely agree with you on this and your wife is right on the money with her explanation!

    I work with someone who is constantly tearing down people in order to make himself look bigger, better, more intelligent, etc. I used to consider him among my friends, but stopped after he decided that I too was a target for his teardown.

    In general, I try to avoid people that believe that tearing someone down makes them better.

    My personal favorite of the supermarket tabloids is The Weekly World News. How can you compare 72 point headlines about Bat Boy, the Pope having kids and Saddams Gay Lover to the antics of Tom Cruise, etal.

    There aint nothing like good old fashioned entertainment I tell you.

  2. I've known a person or two like that too, Pope. Spending time with someone like that is exhausting emotionally. The negativity is overwhelming. Who needs it? I would almost rather spend my time with the stereotypical simpleton, someone who smiles all the time only because he doesn't understand what is going on around him.

  3. I completely agree. Completely. I enjoy helping someone feel better, inspiring someone with an idea or paying a compliment. It takes nothing from me or of me. And, we all feel better in the end.

    That banal criticism you describe is time wasting and detrimental to a person's overall wellbeing.

    TDOW watches a hell of a lot of STAR channel and I am constantly on him about it. Who cares what these people are screwing up in their lives these days? Only someone looking for a reason to feel better about where he/she is or isn't.

    It matters not.

  4. I agree with your wife whole-heartedly. But, may I also suggest that the tabloids publish what they do, in fact exist, merely for profit? There seems to be no moral dilemna for them about what they print.

    For that matter, how about much of what is broadcast on television? Am I the only one who thinks that there is very little difference between such shows as Fear Factor and prostitution? Afterall, they're doing what they do for money.

    And people actually buy the paper, or watch the show. It's unbelievable to me.

  5. There is a dearth of simultaneously family-oriented and intelligent material in every medium -- print, film and TV. Why is that? I agree with Bellezza in that I too wonder why people produce crap and stay away from more wholesome product, especially since the financial rewards can be substantial.

    The answer, I think, is that many people have been raised in profane and morally-rudderless environments and they produce material consistent with their own experience and values.

    Too bad. I am adamantly anti-censorship becasue it is one of those slippery slope things. Prohibiting porn can change to a prohibition of religious books and films, depending on who wins an election. The better way is for parents to guide their children to be discriminate in what they choose to read or see or do.

    Teaching kids is tough. I am perpetually frustrated in my efforts and often feel like I am failing. Then, occassionally, I see an intelligent choice or a kind action from my son, and I feel a little better.

  6. My mother used to read that excrement all the time, and watch soap operas. They have the same thing in common: The crap they will dwell on 20 years from now will be the same as what they are cranking out now.
    Kinda' like politics, isn't it?