Thursday, February 12, 2009

Disgusted With the Media

I first caught glimpse of the power and influence of the media during the Columbine shootings. I was home on the couch watching the news when the switch to live coverage happened. I was floored at how quickly and deftly the media could maneuver coverage and gather information. It all was unfolding real time right in front of my eyes. What really struck me during the aftermath was how some information was accurate and some was not. Some reports were dreadfully wrong. Regardless of accuracy, I learned that what I am told on the news I believe whole-heartedly. I learned that my assumption was that the news was objective and the media reported proven facts only, stripped of bias and haze. Since then I have gradually learned and adapted my understanding to what it is today: The media is a circus that is interested in one thing and one thing only. Viewership. Right and wrong mean nothing. The story is everything. Below are three recent monumental media failures:

1) Nadya Suleman. This woman should be arrested and tried for neglect rather than paraded all over the media. She is unemployed. She has been living on now-exhausted student loans allegedly totaled at $50,000. She is in school pursuing a career in social work. And she unethically had SIX embryos transplanted instead of the typical maximum of 2-3. She now has 14 children to raise by herself in a two-bedroom apartment with no income, no husband/partner, and $459 per month for food stamps. Her infinite medical bills will inevitably be taken care of through taxpayer funds, not to mention her cost of living.

The sickening thing is that the media blitz is likely falling in line with her diabolical plan. She wants attention. She wants money. And the media will lap it up and shell out the dough. Ann Curry’s interview made me sick, overstressing the point that NBC was NOT paying Suleman for the interview. Memo to Ann: She doesn’t care. Your show/network/interview was nothing more than a launching pad to put Suleman in the crosshairs of countless programs and periodicals that WILL pay top dollar for her story and photos. You have enabled and promoted her scheme of profiting from her neglected children. This is no “John and Kate Plus Eight” or “18 Kids and Counting.” Those kids were born into legitimate families that love and support them without taxpayer funds. They were responsible and ethical decisions. Without the media attention, Nadya Suleman would be forced to do the right thing…place those children in the care of families that have the ABILITY to love and care for them. Shameful.

2) Pregnant man. How ridiculous. My beef with this deal has nothing to do with moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding sexual orientation, civil unions, or gay marriage. My personal opinions on those subjects are just that…personal. And they probably aren’t popular with either side of the issue. My problem with this story is from a medical or physiological viewpoint. THIS IS NOT A MAN. It is a woman in a wicked-clever and highly expensive man suit. Gender is not a state of mind. Gender is not misplaced or improperly assigned. You are born with the equipment that you have and that characterizes you as male or female. Penis=male. Vagina=female. You can have parts lopped off or surgically attached, but you are still the woman or man you were before the alteration. If you are a man attracted to other men, that’s fine. If you are a woman attracted to other women, that’s great. But you can’t whack off your wiener, take some estrogen, and magically become a woman. It is a costume. That is all. So, memo to “Pregnant (wo)Man”:

womb + ovaries + vajaja = WOMAN

The media has made this far more interesting than it really is. This is a lesbian woman in a man costume that had a baby. Pretty bland really. I'm also pissed that her beard is better than mine.

3) Michael Phelps. This dude is a stud. He is a national hero (if you subscribe to Olympic athletes as heroes.) He eats 12,000 calories a day and has an upper body that has to be greased down with Crisco to get him through doorways. And guess what world…HE’S A KID. It is unfair that we force young national figures to live by pristine adult standards. I can think of very few examples of young people that miss their childhood/teenage/young adult years that end up ok. Just look at teen actors.

Michael Phelps hit the bong. Who the hell cares? Punishing a kid for something he did at a party five months prior to the 4x6 photo that some jealous tool posted and leaked to the media is a waste of time and taxpayer money. I’m pretty sure that if I posted a picture of myself hoisting an apple bong over my head to Flickr, Facebook, and this blog, I would get ZERO legal heat. It’s unfair that Michael Phelps is being focused so hard. The young man already did the right thing by sacking up and publicly apologizing for poor judgment and irresponsible behavior. Let the kid go. He's actually losing sponsors over this. He deserves better treatment after having brought so much pride to an entire nation. Is Phelps a role model? Yes. Do kids look to him as an example? Yes. Is marijuana illegal? Yes. Should it be punishable by law? Yes. Should Phelps receive excess heat because of his public status and role model position? Absolutely not. The law should apply to all people equally, with equal ferocity and callousness. And Phelps is receiving undue ferocity and callousness from the law, pushed relentlessly by the media.

The media has no moral compass. There is no right or wrong to them. Only stories. They do not report fact. They do not pursue truth. They sell information, often swayed and always spun. There is no social responsibility with the media anymore. It is corporate-sponsored propaganda. The unfortunate reality is that we, the intelligent audience, have to exercise our best judgment when being fed information, wading through the spam to get to the guts of the message, because the media is certainly not going to course correct and actually report with a conscience.


Anonymous said...

Woah. I agreed with you on every one of those stories. It's like you're my twin from a different mother...

Snyder-mom said...

I also completely agree with you. It's crazy how some stories are so sensationalized, and in some cases inaccurate. And when people use and abuse the system, it makes you really wonder how much of the story is actually fact. Too bad most of the retractions don't ever get noticed.

jacksonx03 said...

pregnant (wo)man-agreed
Michael Phelps- Disagree

While I don't think they should be going on these which hunts to find someone who was at the party to testify as a witness so they can bring charges against him, I do think it's quite shameful. He's not a kid, he knows full well what he's doing. He's no dummy and he knows how to handle the media, knows what he represents and knows his role. Because of that he knows that even something as minor as hitting a bong could have serious and heavy repercussions. Not for one second do I doubt that he is fully aware of what his actions could bring, he's not a kid. He's an Olympian, a diplomat to the world and representative of his country. The DUI thing was a little disappointing, what's more disappointing is that he didn't learn from that situation. I am just glad that Phelps did not use performance enhancing drugs.

jacksonx03 said...

P.S. I just feel strongly about the roles or positions people fulfill and how they represent themselves in that role. My opinion can even be extended event to these huge wall-street brokers who are robbing the country of money, even the big blackwater case that was in the news big a month or 2 ago. I feel terrible for the blackwater guys who are taking a hit for that entire company and every other blackwater guy, but somewhere there has to be justice. Blackwater ignores rules and act as renegades. Just because blackwater is not "military" does not give them unleashed control in a combat zone. Same for soldiers in general, they have a role to play and several abuse the role and the rules and I feel they need to answer to that.

Tyler said...

I respect your point of view very much Amy. I read your Phelps blog post and enjoyed it very much.

I can't agree with your point that he's not a kid. He absolutely is a kid. His DUI came at, what, 18 or 19? I'm relatively certain that the vast majority of 18/19 year olds outside of our LDS bubble have gone to questionable parties, had too much to drink, and did something stupid. Because they are kids. The fact that Michael Phelps swims really fast does not mean that his judgment and decision-making abilities are any wiser or stronger than normal teenage kids. He will make mistakes and we, as a nation, should cut him some slack. Teenagers don't learn from their mistakes. I sure didn't.

He is absolutely an Olympian and a representative of our country...when he is swimming. When he laces up the speedo and slaps on the goggles I am intensely proud to be represented by such a fine athlete. What he does in his personal life, outside of the pool, is not my concern. If he used drugs to enhance his performance, then I'd call it shameful. If he drank alcohol or smoked pot I'd think he was being other drinkers or smokers. It is fair that he be pursued and prosecuted for illegal activity, just like any other American. It is not fair that he be overly pursued and criticized because he swims really fast.

On a level playing field, Michael Phelps has done the right thing. He has been open and apologetic. I don't expect anything else from him.

Mandy said...

I totally think your beard is 100x's better than hers. Hers looks like she drew it on with my eyeliner brush! I agree with the "You're a SHE" bit.
Nadia- Totally irresponsible. You cannot make up for being an only child by having 100 kids. What you can do is go to therapy. I'll give her a phone number to a great one.
Phelps- Yeah, give the kid a break. The Kellogg’s deal was ending anyway, and to make a point that they "canceled" it was just a publicity stunt. Good one.

De-Rail said...

1) Nadya Suleman - Agree
2) Pregnant Man - Agree
3) Michael Phelps - Disagree

Should Phelps receive excess heat because of his public status and role model position? ABSOLUTELY

While we are each "special" in our own right there is nothing newsworthy about the average American kid. Average kids work at Subway during their teen years to scrape together money for gas, movies, MP3s, whatever. Michael Phelps was making $5M a year heading into the Bejing Olympics. He was projected to be worth over $100 Million over the life of his endorsements. And what are companies paying for with their endorsement dollars? IMAGE, Michael Phelp's image. If he doesn't live up to that image he is in breech of contract, doesn't matter matter how old he is.

I agree that the person who sold the image is a sucker. But that doesn't excuse Phelps actions. About 25% of US teens have tried pot. Phelps could easily have chosen to be in the majority of teens and not hit the bong. In fact, he has an obligation to "Just Say No". He is paid millions of dollars every year to say no and to be a role model. If the majority of teens can make it through teen years, I'm sure superhuman Michael Phelp's can too. And I don't think he will grow up any worse off. If he doesn't want to live up to the image he is being paid to portray, fine. But no one should cry for him or jump to his defense. Guess he'll have to live off the millions he's already collected. Like it or not there are consequences for our actions.

Now excuse me while I go pay my $180 photo radar ticket. Damn pictures!

Paul said...

Sack lunch issues are only the tip of the iceberg here in the Land of Enchantment i.e. the welfare state. People here talk about the state having the highest child hunger rate in the nation--I wouldn't doubt it. Poverty is rampant here, along with a healthy dose of DUIs and crime. But hey, we have green chili.