If You Build It, They Will Come.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Annoyance does not equal apathy.

Going about my normal morning routine, I came upon Nopa's blog today and his entry about apathy. Rather than leave a long comment at his site, I thought I'd add my thoughts here.

It's a common thing to say that our generation doesn't care, we don't vote, we don't watch the news etc. etc. My contention is that it's not because we don't care, it's because it's disappointing. See, I used to write a lot of political stuff on this blog, I used to get in the liberal vs. conservative arguments with my uncle, but honestly, at 24, I've outgrown it. I've outgrown politics and I'm not even old enough to be elected to the House of Representatives let alone be a Senator. It's repulsive and immature, like nine year olds bickering. If candidate A goes to a restaurant where they serve eggs, candidate B makes a negative ad saying A likes to eat unborn babies. It's a group of people who treat the public like they're idiots, lie, cheat, steal, and then get to make the rules once they're picked as the lesser of two evils. Once elected, they aren't held accountable for what they said during the campaign, so they can sit comfy and go on vacation for four of the eight months they're in office before a national tragedy.

The war in Iraq. I care about it, I wish it were over. But following it is pointless. It'll be over when the politicians stop making money off of it. Whenever we question it, someone will inevitably come out and say, "Things are going well, and we hope to have them home soon." We'll smile and feel better about it, and then we'll stop bugging the politicians for a couple months. Is it true that they'll be home soon? Who knows. Public figureheads don't need actual data, they just need to say happy words.

As far as the news, I make an active effort not to watch it. It's all useless information, it's all mind pollution. I've avoided it for the last few months, and because of that, I don't know what's happening in the Michael Jackson trial, I don't know who Terry Schavio is (or was, I think she died), I don't know anything really about Laci Peterson other than I think she's the one who died and her husband killed her, I don't know what happened to Robert Blake, I don't know what's going on with Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and Angelina Jolie, I don't know if Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are together, I don't know if Martha Stewart is still in jail, I have no idea what's up with this runaway bride lady, in fact, the only reason I know about any of these people is because I pass newspaper stands on my way to Ralphs and I see the headlines. I can't imagine that the lack of any of that information makes me ignorant or uninformed. I guess I am apathetic to the "news."

I'm sure there are really important things going on in the world. Things that were I to know every single aspect of, I still couldn't change, affect, or would in turn have any effect on me. To quote Ferris Bueller:

"I do have a test today. that wasn't bullshit. It's on European socialism. I mean, really, what's the point? I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who cares if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists. It still doesn't change the fact that I don't own a car."

It sounds self centered and arrogant. I mean, I cared about the Tsunami, I cared about the Russian school massacre. But other than saying, "damn, that sucks" and dropping off some donation money at the local grocery store, there's not much more I can do.

Being apathetic to what Americans call the "news" is one of those societal faux-pas that really after consideration isn't that bad. Like not being an organ donor, or not voting, or not caring when a rare species of worm goes extinct in China. Everyone reacts to it like you've purposefully run over a cat with a lawnmower, but when you really think about it, who cares. I didn't vote in the 2000 election, and when my friends found out, they were like, "YOU DIDN'T VOTE?!?!" Nope. If I did vote, I would've voted for Gore. As it's set up, Gore won Michigan, and my vote wouldn't have mattered. Theoretically as it's set up, if only one person in the state votes and he or she votes for the candidate I want, neither I nor my candidate gains anything from my vote. I really didn't want Gore to be president. I really didn't want Bush to be president more.

We really don't care about politics in this country, to pretend we do is ridiculous. The governor of my state is the guy from Jingle All The Way, and Kindergarten Cop. The Minnesota governor used to wear feather boas to the ring before fake fighting other men in spandex. If Pee Wee Herman ran for president, he'd win.

We don't care anymore, and it's not really our fault. I think were all just sick of it. We're sick of being lied to by men who claim to be holier than thou, and treated as if we were idiots who can't figure out we're being lied to. I'm sick of the news, because it's become nothing more than a gossip rag. I don't care about Michael Jackson, Terry Schavio, Scott Peterson, a runaway bride, nor should I. These people are entertainment passed off as news. These are glorifed soap operas, and I almost feel guilty for knowing their names. Well not Jackson.

But what would the news be without these little melodramas? Imagine, no Nancy Kerrigan, no OJ trial, no Martha Stewart, no kid who got caned in Singapore, no John Bobbit, no Elian Gonzalez, no Joey Baddafuco. It might actually be news. Just leave those other stories to TV movies of the week, or a very special "Law and Order."

Yes, I'm apathetic to the "news." I'm proud of it.

-j

13 Comments:

  • I wasn't talking about Terry Schivo (although, that one is news worthy, if only because the government decided it was their place to step in on a family matter... but putting that aside), Brad Pitt, or the so called Runaway Bride. I'm talking about actual news. The stuff that mainstream American media fails to report much of the time. I'm not talking about US Weekly or Entertainment Tonight. I'm talking about the things going on in the world that, even if we can't affect them, we can learn from them, and possibly do something later.

    I was trying to make the point that with the Internet we have access to news, opinions and so much information that to not take advantage of the ability to be informed is bordering on criminal. The opinion of "my vote doesn't matter" or "it doesn't matter if I pay attention or not, I couldn't possibly make a difference ever" is tragic, and I share it. I just want to be better. And anyways, seriously, if our generation becomes apathetic to the world around us, don't' you think that the communists have won?

    -Jon

    By Blogger jon jon, at Wed May 18, 06:46:00 PM EDT  

  • While I do read CNN online everyday, I still wouldn't call myself particularly informed, for which I blame the following four things-
    1. The crap that they call 'news' is unreal- why is it that I can find out who won a reality game show on CNN the morning after, but a freaking news giant doesn't decide to start covering the British election until two days before it's set, something that's really important if you consider that Tony Blair is Bush's main ally (sp?) in the Iraq War. I know more about Brad and Angelina's secret Cancun getaway than I do about the British election, which to me says that we're getting some pretty selective 'news', here. True, I could go looking for the news in other places, places I would get more important info, but that leads me to reason #2-
    2. Isn't it amazing how fast everything moves now, basically because of how well connected we are thanks to the internet, cell phones, etc? While I think all that stuff was meant to make modern life more convenient, I think the whole world, instead of taking the conveniences and using them to make a work day easier, has used them to cram more into a day, and as a result everything moves faster-
    It is sad to say, but I have too much to do in a day to sit down and read a newspaper- With the internet and cell phone, I have the ability to cram twice as much into a day as I used to and I do, as does everyone else. I work 8 hours a day, leave my house at 8am and get home around 7pm and have to do a lot of writing, but still get in bed by 11 or so, so that I get enough sleep to get up and do it all again the next day. So, I think people are pretty selective about their time.
    3. Because we live where we do, we have the luxury of not paying attention to the news, which is either ignorant or lucky, or both, depending on how you look at it.
    4.Sadly, thousands have died in Iraq. Every day I hear about someone dying and after a while, it's hard to be surprised.

    By Blogger Laura, at Wed May 18, 08:50:00 PM EDT  

  • I see your point Jon, and to some degree, yes, I can understand your point. I can get online and look at the BBC site, and get my news from there. I could find Russian or Japanese news sources as well, but I don't speak Russian or Japanese. I can go online, Google "National Tragedies" and find a bunch of stuff happening in other countries that I'd never even heard of. The problem of course is reputability. I just posted a few weeks ago about the dangers of gothic society. I'm sure I could find a website devoted to the misjustice of Passion of the Christ not getting the best picture Oscar because of the Jews who run Hollywood. Just becuse it's available to be read, doesn't mean it's accurate.

    At the same time, just because it's on network television or CNN, or Fox News doesn't mean it's accurate either. This is basically why I've stepped away from the whole thing. If Fox News can be allowed to broadcast without a disclaimer, then the whole system is flawed.

    America as a society has never really cared about anyone other than itself. Republicans will say we went to war with Iraq because we cared, that's bullshit, we all know it. Not only do we not look at news that happens outside of our borders, we generally don't study history before this country had something to do with history. Anyone take a general history class in school that started before 1492? Anyone know who the last King of England was without looking it up? The previous prime minister of France? Anyone know who the Preisdent of Mexico or the PM of Canada is? These guys are right next door.

    Our news channels are too busy telling us about the new Star Wars movie, or about Britney Spears being pregnant to actually give us facts, and when they do talk about something serious, its prewrapped, prespun and biased. Then they get a bunch of pundits you've never heard of to give you their opinions and their spin on issues like why people shouldn't listen to Hollywood actors because all they give you is their opinions and their spin. Thus converting the national news to VH1's "The Best Week Ever."

    I don't watch the news, because I no longer trust the news media, nor do I trust sources I find online to give me accurate information, let alone decent information. I'm frustrated with the whole childish process. It's a babysitter. They report what keeps people interested, like who won Survivor, or who's marrying J-Lo this week, and not things that could be construed as upsetting or unpatriotic or meaningful. If you DO find this news, you need to question the source. Like, I won't hear about American atrocities in Iraq from Fox News, but I will hear it from Taliban.com.

    It would be nice if we'd use the Freedom of the Press for good instead of evil.

    By Blogger Joseph, at Thu May 19, 01:00:00 AM EDT  

  • So right after I got done writing this comment, I went to see if I could in fact find an article about how the Passion of the Christ was blocked by Jews in Hollywood. I found this.

    http://www.jonchristianryter.com/Two_Cents/2cworth.022805.html

    While this assclown never comes out and says "Jews" he does say liberals, and takes the overly typical conservative viewpoint on a bunch of movies: I truly hated it, it was garbage and out of touch with America, and I never saw it.

    Also, he said that Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't get an Oscar nod for best Doc. even though Michael Moore petitioned hard to get it in. Quote: "In point of fact, it wasn't nominated for anything even though Moore spent a fortune in trade advertising trying to get the film nominated." The fact is that Michael Moore withdrew Fahrenheit 9/11 from Oscar contention so that he could show it on TV to counter that Pro-Bush "Documentary" they were running on a bunch of stations two days before the 2004 election.

    So who knows. News, facts, opinion, spin, libel, slander, lies, gossip, hearsay, it all runs together. I just don't care anymore.

    By Blogger Joseph, at Thu May 19, 01:27:00 AM EDT  

  • All of you are right. Everyone that argues any side of this argument is right. So what's to argue? We can complain about the fact that we've progressed to this depressing and outlandish junkyard dog journalism so much so that when a politician does a good job, no one cares. Or we can complain that when reporters actually do a story on respectful "bikers" in downtown Royal Oak, it's boring and not really news. We could critque the news or politics or whatever until our faces turn blue but in the end, people are going to make the choice to watch or not watch anything they want.

    When it comes down to the nitty gritty, news stations are going to air programs that get ratings. What are ratings you ask? Well let me tell ya, they come from your neighbor, mother, father, sibling, uncle, aunt, grandparents, the guy down the street, coworker, boss, or your sister's brother's cousin's dad's friend of a friend of a friend who knows Britney Spears. In other words, they run the shows that you, the Bob General Public, enjoy watching. I honestly don't like what I see on the news so I don't watch it. I don't like some politicians and I'll vote against them at election time. I like watching the Real World/Road Rules - I don't know why - but I do. It's not that America has to change, it's that people have to continue to make their own decisions. If enough people stop watching the news - surprise surprise - ratings go down, news stations change formats.

    By Blogger Jack, at Thu May 19, 08:00:00 AM EDT  

  • I kind of disagree. People are going to watch TV, no matter what. I think though that execs have a difficult time seeing the difference between well recieved programming, and lack of better options. For example, network broadcasters think that reality television is very well received, because so many people watch it, so they get rid of other written sitcoms, and fill the airwaves with reality tv. Truth be told, it's my belief so many people watch reality tv because now there's nothing else on. Watch the ratings spike on 24, The West Wing, ER, Law and Order. These ratings spikes occur because these are quality shows, and the public doesn't often get a chance to see that, when bombarded with crap like "Who Wants to Marry My Dad?" or "The Bachlorette."

    The same principle follows I believe with the news, and it started with the OJ Simpson trial. It got good ratings, because it was the only thing you could watch. Since then, the news has become a glorified "National Enquirer." I think people (obviously Nopa, because he wrote the post that started this whole thing, and myself included) want decent actual factual news, just like people want quality entertainment programming, it's just not available, because shit reporting is all that's on, and people are tuning in.

    I've not met one person who actually gives a shit about the Michael Jackson trial, yet it's all over TV, and it's not even good reporting. It's Michael walking from the car to the courthouse, flashing a peace sign, and going in. On the same note, I've not met a person who owns a Nielsen box.

    Why is it still on TV? Because it's dirty and perverse. The public loves it, because American culture is EXTREMELY sexually repressed. We're a country founded by Puritains. Don't believe me that we're all pent up, ask Michael's sister. She was there the day the entire world almost ended, the day a single titty was shown on broadcast television for less than half a second. What a terrible day that was, indeed. Children wept in the streets, the stock market plummeted, terrorists around the world rejoiced, teen pregnancy skyrocketed... but I digress.

    I'll never forget I went to see Jerry MacGuire in theaters, and a mom brought her 7-8 year old son. She was fine with all the profanity, of which there is a lot, but it was the sex scene at the beginning that she quickly covered his eyes for.

    Anyway. Here's the best way I can seem to make my point. I get a lot of my news from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Why? Yeah, it's a little leftist, but it also reports the stuff you don't see on CNN or Fox News, and I think it's much better at holding people accountable and sifting through the shit and spin produced by other cable or network news stations. To me, it seems more honest. Not of course their special reports and stuff, but the headlines they go through at the top of the show. Plus it's really funny.

    If you ever want a really good laugh though, check out Bill O'Reilly. They'll give any phone sex pervert hack a show on FN and call it the voice of morality.

    -j

    By Blogger Joseph, at Thu May 19, 04:11:00 PM EDT  

  • my point.... our decision to watch the news or support politicians determines the direction or content of network programs and national policy. in other words, you watch the news, you support the content of the news; you don't vote, you support the politician by doing nothing to oppose him/her........I figure by reading a book by Joe Finder and showing up on voting day I'm quieting telling the world to shove it. :)

    By Blogger Jack, at Thu May 19, 04:19:00 PM EDT  

  • Yea I see your point, there's crap on tv but that doesn't MAKE you watch it. listen to NPR instead; it's not all that bad compared to tv news.

    yea people freaked out about Janet Jackson which in retrospect, is quite amusing I think. noticed at all that you don't hear many reports saying anything about Justin Timberlake - the guy who ripped JJ's outfit off? if you listen to jokes about that now, it's like he wasn't even there. Shouldn't there be any culpability on his part? guess not.

    you can't argue that Bob General Public doesn't want to watch crap because if BGP wanted a good show, Politically Incorrect would still be on and Scarborough County or Hardball would be surpass Desperate Housewives in ratings. All three of those shows are thought provoking, intelligent, and may be politically driven but challenging nonetheless.

    By Blogger Jack, at Thu May 19, 04:42:00 PM EDT  

  • Curse you, Bob General Public!

    Semantically speaking, Politically Incorrect got canned because Bill Maher said something after 9/11 that was not at all offensive, that sponsors thought might be offensive, and pulled themselves from the show. Then ABC cancelled it. It's now on HBO and called Real Time. It's better now because they can say f**k.

    People love Desparate Housewives because it's sexy. Maybe if sex in this country weren't so evil, we'd be less cranky and stop blowing up other peoples countries.

    And it wasn't Timberlake's boobie, he looked just as shocked as the rest of us did.

    I mean, come on, it's a boob. Half of the people in this country see them everyday in the shower, the rest of us try our best to see them as often as possible.

    Everyone says "oh my kids saw it! that's awful." Did you breast feed your kid? Did you cover their eyes while doing it? Seeing a boob for a half a second at the Superbowl will not corrupt your kid.

    I found a Penthouse magazine in the woods when I was in 5th grade. I'm not a sex crazed serial killer. People are too into protecting their kids now a days. Jaws was a terrifying, very intense, bloody movie. Released in the late 70's, it was rated PG. Granted, at the time there was no PG13 rating in existance, but even without, the amount of blood, and the fact that Quint gets eaten by a shark very graphically, and a little kid gets killed, nowadays, this film would be rated R. The Goonies would've never gotten made. A bunch of kids who swear and run away from their parents?! Not unless it was South Park.

    Oh well.
    -j

    By Blogger Joseph, at Thu May 19, 08:36:00 PM EDT  

  • Just one last little comment to add to all this -- going back to the news and not the BGP Jackassery. There are two good american news sorces... one is NPR, the other is the News Hour on PBS. They're both prone to being boring as hell, but hell, they're more informative about important issues than three weeks watching CNN. Anyhoos...

    By Blogger jon jon, at Fri May 20, 09:34:00 PM EDT  

  • I just turned on NPR. They're talking about the fight between the Pistons and Pacers.

    Now they're talking about a British band called "The Kaiserchiefs."

    By Blogger Joseph, at Fri May 20, 09:59:00 PM EDT  

  • Now I'm watching Newshour. You're right, this is kind of boring.

    By Blogger Joseph, at Fri May 20, 10:09:00 PM EDT  

  • jackassery?

    By Blogger Jack, at Mon May 23, 07:33:00 AM EDT  

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