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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Celebrity obsession may be our downfall

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I actually found myself last week reading about the Kim Kardashian divorce after a mere 72 days. I have tried very carefully to avoid any time spent on the Kardashian clan. But in our celebrity-obsessed society, avoidance is not always possible.

The 72-day marriage made in heaven (or Hollywood) jumped from the tabloid arena to the mainstream media last week only because of the near-record brevity of the couple's grand union.

So despite my best efforts and sincere attempt to limit my intake of drama, here they were - the happy couple - splashed across every media outlet. For goodness sake, they are still eating leftovers from the nuptials before they head to divorce court.

And thus, my friends, is the current state of American society.

Did it start with Jerry Springer? No, surely I'm wrong. Remember Joe Pyne? I have the faintest of memory of some talk show host whose calling card was his yelling at audience members. Or was I just dreaming?

Then somewhat later appeared Morton Downey Jr. in the same mold as Pyne. Downey elevated televised drama to a virtual art form but fortunately vanished about as soon as he appeared.

The key appeal of these early talk fests was purely the prospect that the drama on the screen would surely surpass the drama in the lives of the viewers.

The Kardashian reality program - or so I'm told - is based solely on drama. Without the faux drama, this would be yet another boring - although wealthy - family and no audience would hold any interest.

But add the element of real or contrived drama and for some odd reason, the American public is mesmerized. Mesmerization begets revenue and revenue begets additional drama.

There was once a time when the American public sought refuge from the humdrum events of their lives in television sitcoms or over-the-top Westerns. But when Pyne gave way to Downey who gave way to Springer, a new escape was born. The result is not just evident today, it is prevalent and abundant.

When history is someday written and future eggheads ponder just where this country went wrong, at least a footnote of this collapse will surely involve the decay in the social structure. Government holds no blame on this topic. The problem is facing you in the mirror.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen