I should be used to it by now, but I remain irritated by news media attention given to celebrity antics which takes attention away from the vital issues of our time. Their abusive behavior (real or alleged) makes for popular copy. For example, comedian Jimmy Kimmel finds humor (and an audience) in an ongoing YouTube series, “I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy.” Parents are told by the TV star to steal candy from a baby. They then joyfully participate in the psychological abuse of their own children. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell wrote about these people a couple of generations ago. Presumably, the abusive parents watch late night TV rather than engage in late night reading.
I recall Bill Cosby from early comedy records and I Spy. He is known to younger generations for a sitcom and cartoons, Ford car commercials, commitment to youth education and the tragic death of his son. He became a vocal moralist lecturing us on use of foul language and bad behavior in general. It is important to have someone to remind us of these things. A recent biography claims that his reach was such that he made America ready for a black president. Was he, however, at some point tempted by his considerable power to assault the powerless?
Cosby’s attorney (although not the actor himself) denies the allegations against him. Kimmel would almost certainly deny that his antics are harmful to children. These offerings are symptomatic of a larger culture of humiliation. In reality TV (including celebrity scandals) participants willingly do stupid or absurd things; viewers participate in their own humiliation by agreeing to watch.
IF ONLY the abuse and humiliation of wild nature garnered similar coverage by the media and the same attention by listeners and viewers. Canadian caribou starve when icy rain rather than soft snow covers the lichens they eat. All wildlife is disappearing from Tibet because the Chinese occupiers don’t have the same respect for nature as the original Buddhist inhabitants. Where is the outrage? The wild animal victims can’t do interviews. We can look away from pictures of starving hoofed creatures while from Tibet we get almost no pictures at all thanks to government censors. Not that American media is likely to give more than passing notice to such issues even when images are available.
The humiliation visited upon abused women and children is not unlike that meted upon the earth’s harmless wild creatures on a daily basis. It is easy to abuse that which we devalue. As to the devalued themselves? The abused children of the Kimmel world perhaps will grow up to take out their repressed anger on the earth itself by becoming executives in coal, oil and natural gas companies.
<October 2014 partial solar eclipse, dlw photo>