No Peeking . . . especially you NPR

January 31, 2008 — Leave a comment

Remember what I said in October?

Okay, I barely remember what I said in October, so there is no reason that you should.

Back then I was ranting away on the unhealthiness of the Britney Spears obsession. I suggested her mental status was such that we should avoid buying her albums and continuing to put ridiculous gobs of money into her pockets. I also suggested that we simply leave the child alone so that she would have some space to get her act together.

Since then, the Britney saga has gotten more bizarre, to the point that the LAPD has so develop action plans to get this person to the hospital due to the paparazzi. What should have involved a short ride in the back of a squad care to the local psychiatric ward instead became a major production involving God knows how much money and time.

By now, I expect that the local Clear Channel Top 40 station has no choice but to go on about the latest Britney event, especially on their morning drive 57 Seconds of Sleaze segment.

But when National Public Radio gave in to what they called “a guilty pleasure,” then I knew thing have gone too far.

Oh, of course being NPR they wrapped the story in cultural relevance, reporting on a new opera opening in London based on the tabloid life of the former mouseketeer. They attempted to make light of their report, keeping things tongue in cheek, and barely hitting the basics of the most recent events.

Yet, when even NPR is reporting on this “story” (no matter how cheekily) then we have a problem.

As I said in October, the Britney situation is not funny. It is not a morality play about the failure of the rich and famous to retain their sanity. It is not something that we should be peeking in on, for this drama involves real people with serious consequences. There are two kids involved, forced to watch their mother implode and seeing that implosion both detailed and belittled on the evening TV. There is a woman whose mental status is so fragile that she can’t even sit inside a court room and talk to a judge about her relationship with those kids. The circumstances of this family crisis aren’t unfamiliar to those who hang around the juvenile court building in most any city, and those circumstances are simply sad, not anything to be reveled in.

I once had a professor who called the daytime soap operas “…soft core porn for shut-ins.” I wonder if the celebrity gossip fixation isn’t fulfilling the same role. Are we so needy for titillation that we have no choice but to peek in, opening the centerfold of these folks lives while buying the magazine “for the articles”?

So let’s make a pact. Let’s stop peeking. We either need to devote a full court press to seeing that these persons are moved to wholeness, taking a full and complete look at every pore and blemish on their airbrushed lives, or we need to stop looking entirely, passing by the shows and magazines of titillation for something a bit more redeeming.

Yes, Britney bashing is fun. It is, as NPR said, a guilty pleasure.

But do we really want to be guilty?

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