Excuse me for a minute while I climb onto my soapbox.
Yesterday, I was doing my usual Sunday morning routine: nothing. I was trolling Facebook, playing Candy Crush. As I was scrolling through my news feed, I saw the headline that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died, apparently of a drug overdose. When I read that, I got a serious case of the sads. I loved him as an actor. He was in some of my favorite movies, in particular The Big Lebowski. Super talented, quirky….he could play such a range of characters. So, I was really bummed. He was only 46. I remembered reading recently that he had checked himself into rehab, but it wasn’t because he was using again. It was a preventative measure because for some reason, he felt as if he would have a major relapse. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop him and here we are. But, that’s not the overwhelming tragedy to me. The real tragedy is what I am reading in the aftermath of his death. Reports are saying that he was found in his bathroom, alone in his boxer shorts, with a needle stuck in his arm. It’s this last detail that has really made me sick; not because it happened, but because I know about it.
I’m not sure when it happened, but the “news’ is no longer legitimate news. Gone are the days of journalistic integrity. Now it’s just stories that are filled with nonsense, like what Justin Bieber did at a strip club, who Kim Kardashian is sleeping with, and whatever fuckery Miley Cyrus is getting into. Of course, I read these stories. I can’t help it. These headlines grab you and you find yourself reading, subconsciously absorbing the shit that they put in there. It’s sickening. I shouldn’t know/don’t care to know what these assholes are doing. I shouldn’t even know that someone has checked into rehab for an obviously personal issue. What’s worse, these stories aren’t relegated only to TMZ or People. CNN is now joining the ranks because I get them as alerts. I almost threw my phone through the window when I received a breaking news update from CNN about that twerp Justin Bieber’s arrest. It was a sad reminder that you just can’t escape, even if you’re trying to.
This constant feed of bullshit “news” is reminiscent of the Bread and Circus of ancient Rome. The origin of this term is that the politicians would satiate the public by giving them free wheat and provide circus-like entertainment solely to gain their votes. It didn’t matter what these politicians were about; as long as the masses were appeased, they were in like Flynn. It’s the same concept now. The news publications/tv/radio only care about their ratings; it doesn’t matter how they get it. Celebrities become more (in)famous the more they are mentioned in the news. Rinse, repeat. They’ve discovered that the more personal details they can expose of a person’s life, the more viewership they will get. It happens over and over and its getting worse and worse. People aren’t stopping to say, “You know what? I don’t really need to know that David Carradine died from auto-erotic asphyxiation”, or “maybe I don’t need to see the pictures of Whitney Houston dead in a bathtub.” Our society has seemingly lost it’s dignity and we’ve become almost cannibalistic towards each other.
Here’s my point: he’s a father to three kids, a loved one to many. Publishing the dirty details of his death doens’t help anyone, especially those close to him. It’s something that is now stamped into my brain. His children will not only have to deal with this horrific loss in their lives, but also the fact that the entire world knows just how it happened. I just don’t care to know about it. I really don’t. I admit, I am a pop culture junkie. But, over the years, I’ve just had a bad taste in my mouth about most of the stuff I read. I feel like my brain needs a break. So, I will gladly pass on the free wheat that these outlets are passing out and instead watch videos of puppies making babies laugh. There’s no harm in that, right?