the media skews us yet again.

I always get so frustrated with the media.  I always hated the media for the following reasons: 1. It skews our perception on what’s important news, whether it’s blowing a story out of proportion or incessantly jabbing on about idle celebrity gossip as if reporting what kind of toothpaste the second coming of Jesus used on his first day on Earth.  2.  It tears apart celebrity lives.  3. It skews how children and young adults perceive themselves and the lives they should be leading.  4. It exposes what I would often consider sensitive information to anyone who can get ahold of the articles or clips, this including reports on military strategy or even problems that are weakening the country (and thereby making them more easily targeted).  5. It often publishes photos of people suffering, dying, and crying which are completely personal.  6. I don’t care if you enjoy journalism, I still think it’s selfish to make personal gains on articles that “expose the truth” i.e. get you a higher ranking and plaster such private moments over everyone’s front page.  7. Sometimes, it just plain old reports a topic miserably and inaccurately, such as the skewed article that recently described the recording of the Daily Show mascot issue and how the non-Indians were “attacked”, defending them.  And now the media drives me even crazier because there are so many fake articles circulating and people blowing up over false alarms, like the one about Facebook beginning charges for its services in November.

Well, there’s a good, recent example of the media skewing our perceptions on current issues:  The Ebola outbreak.  IT’S IN THE USA OMG WHAT WILL WE EVER DO.  I get it, it’s bad.  People are dying.  Unfortunately, this is Mother Nature sending us to our rooms without dinner.  You think this is bad?  I’m confident it’s about to get a hell of a lot worse over the next century, and I don’t mean in terms of Ebola.  I mean all kinds of pandemonium.  But that’s okay, just keep living your “modern” life and leave the future up to the hands of the future.  That’s the American way.  Live in the now, take all that you’re entitled to and whatever else you can snag up.  I’m not even sure we can’t get through the next century without blowing each other off the face of the planet with weapons of mass destruction – but that’s not my point.  My point is that indeed this Ebola spiel is not what the media is making it out to be.  Yes, Ebola is also an RNA virus which spreads at a faster rate than Influenza, but its R0 (R-naught) value is actually fairly low.  It’s lower than HIV and way, way, way lower than Measels.  With one or two cases in the US, ones which have been brought here by volunteers in Africa, those have been well contained.

And that’s the key, really – containment.  I’m so saddened by this epidemic because of my many friends in Benin, Togo, and Mali.  I lived a short time in Ouidah just last year.  But that means I’ve seen first-hand the porosity of the international borders.  I literally walked across the border into Togo.  It took a few minutes to present my Yellow Card (to prove I’ve had a yellow fever shot) and to get my visa stamped into my passport.  I got my credentials checked on the Beninese side, then I passed through a door beside the car gateway to have the Togolese police take my currency, represent the money I paid with postage-like stamps, and place their signed seal over the visa.  On the other side of the border, it was a chaotic mumbo-jumbo of women in colorful cloth and head wraps, hacking coconuts open and peddling bananas off as people ran back and forth across the road.  Yes, in West Africa you carpool.  I literally would stand on the roadway between Nigeria and Togo near the Kpasse market in Ouidah and flag a car down.  Actually, I usually asked someone to do it for me.  When a non-black flags down a car, everyone rushes to try to rip them off.  When a black person flagged one for me, I could haggle the price with someone who may not have stopped to get an overpriced deal.  I would jump into the back and keep moving left, left, left…to fit more and more passersby as we progressed towards wherever we were going.  I’m telling you this to demonstrate the relaxed situation over there.  Yeah, I would get yanked out of the car at random police barriers and have my credentials checked, but they were just looking for non-Africans who they might be able to bribe.  Rarely did they do much policing.  Once we got to a country border, it was a chaotic scramble to get the passengers to pick up visas by foot and cars driving through the gate to pick people up on the other side.  When I went to Lome, I actually traded vehicles at the border.  The driver asked to split my fee with his friend.  Rattling, smoking clunkers would roll past us with 20 feet of bundles and bananas on top – and sometimes people – and up to 15 people crammed into small vans.  Oh, when in Africa.

Ebola is spreading rapidly in West Africa.  It’s spreading because of the porosity as I’ve described.  It’s spreading because people don’t have the same sanitation as we do in the USA.  That doesn’t mean the places are absolutely disgusting, not at all.  It’s just not so freaking sterile either.  Lome was actually probably the worst I’d seen.  It had sanitation systems, but the streets were backed up with trash.  I literally walked across a field of piles of burning trash on my way to see some soccer matches at the University.  Benin is a skinny country, just like Togo, so the short trip to Lome already put me within sight of the country of Ghana.  And a lot of the people out there, especially more rural peoples, have some fears of the incoming doctors.  Treatment isn’t that easy, even with the supplies.  Keeping everything sanitary is surely another horror.  And living in Ouidah, Voodoo capital of West Africa, I saw firsthand how very unsanitary practices can contribute to the spread of diseases.  While Ouidah villagers throw carcasses into the street and sell rotting animals for witchcraft spells, other groups of people are also known to wash dead bodies as tradition.  So what would make an Ebola-plagued body any different?

Yet probably the final sad thing about the way the media is reporting this outbreak is the complete neglect Cameroon is getting.  Again, I fear for my friends.  I’ve been to Cameroon twice now, having spent a total of maybe 3 or so weeks in rural reaches of the country.  The rural areas have a much more sterile feel, unless of course you walk through the market area where the trash accumulates or if you walk through the actual market day where what my group would call “fish that looks way too much like fish” and chopped-in-half goats would be lying out in the sun, accumulating masses of flies.  Yes, you could be standing in the beignet booth and be overcome by the stench of ruminating death.  But EBOLA EBOLA EBOLA – oh wait, 80 Nigerians at a camp died in Cameroon from cholera?  There’s an outbreak of that TOO spreading around?  Yeah, no one’s hearing about it.  Why is that?  It’s not “cool” enough or there’s too much to report on for Ebola?  Can’t divert the audience’s attention?  I don’t know, you could also run a story on “the end of the world”, portraying the two epidemics as wiping out Africa and coming thirstily for our continent.  Oh, and I’m sick of seeing pictures of these suffering people.  Does no one else feel bothered by it?  How would you feel if you were the front page story??

That’s just my lunchtime rant.  I’ll be thinking of my friends in those four countries.

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buzzcut season.

And nothing’s wrong when nothing’s true
I live in a hologram with you.

-Lorde, Buzzcut Season.

——————————————————————

I keep trying to picture this world in other times.  I only have music, books, journals, and what I can pull from history to tell me what life was like before this era.  As I mentioned in my last post, the Hollywood version of Noah’s story depicted what looked like the end of the world, what I would expect to be the last straw before humanity wipes itself out.

Oh, right…that’s what happened.  By the hand of God.  He restarted the planet.

Sometimes I get scared in thinking it’s really not that far off.  I’m not scared so much for the world coming to an end since fretting won’t help anyone, I’m more scared by people and how they can be so ruthless.  Survival of the fittest and competition is one thing, but not in a world where we currently have the means to provide for our global population.  We’re just not distributing it properly and neglecting immorality and inequity.

I like to imagine 100 years ago, with more moral people and less egocentrism.

I like to imagine 500 years ago, with increasing humility and simplicity in a positive sense.

I like to imagine…but it’s hard to imagine.  I mean, was there ever a time when people really were all good and perfect and they didn’t stray from living in harmony?  It seems so unlikely…and I’m not sure what sets off in the first guy’s head to do evil, but it sure sends around a chain reaction.

Explosions on TV, and all the girls with heads inside a dream…

All of the chaos we see around the world.  All of the people wanting to turn a blind eye and take up the lives of rich, well-dressed, fine-dining celebrities….

The men up on the news, they try to tell us all that we will lose…

But what is this pressure we feel?  To outrun the chaos and arm ourselves with riches?  And then the downtrodden feeling that only a select few are entitled to those privileges…

But you see, THAT is the HOLOGRAM.

It’s so easy to see the bad.  The good only ever seems to shine if it’s pure good, but bad taints it.  Because NOT EVERYONE is trying to obtain those things.  In fact, who really wants it anyway?  When you know that happiness comes from having a certain list of things that make you safe, sound, and comfortable, how many of your lists would honestly need materialistic things?

The media sure wants us to believe that.  And the media plagues the TV with horrible scenes.  If it can’t cause the audience to shed a tear or gasp, it’s probably not going to make enough of an impact to get whatever feedback quota or credit it desires for that given day.

So WHAT IS the hologram??

The hologram is not seeing life for what it is.  The celebrities live in a hologram because their lives consist of artificiality.

Now we live beside the pool, where everything is good….
It’s so easy in this blue, where everything is good….

Play along (make-believe it’s hyper real)…

And I’ll never go home again.

The hologram is living in that artificial life, or living in the ordinary life and not seeing the simple things that make it taste, feel, be, the things that make it real and NOT that artificial life.

We ride the bus with our knees pulled in…
I shut my eyes to the song that plays.
Sometimes this has a hot, sweet taste.

Cola with the burnt-out taste
I’m the one you tell your fears to
There will never be enough of us

But it’s not just rejecting the hoity-toity life or embracing the simple one, it’s also about seeing the good in something overshadowed by the worse.  Like how shocked I have been at times to realize how many people actually careabout finding peace and accepting people and who go out of theirs ways to help.

Anyway, just a thought.  And I really like that song.

 

Why Journalists are Some of the Lowest People on the Planet

With all of the headlines flying through the newspapers and websites regarding the Boston Marathon and recent catastrophe, I couldn’t help but be appalled by what I saw: Pictures of bloodied-up spectators lying in agony as they received medical attention, plastered all over the front pages of every paper.  All I could think of was, were that me, I would be absolutely FURIOUS and DEVASTATED by seeing myself in the news like that.

I would post an example of the pictures I’ve been seeing but, to be perfectly honest, I don’t support them at all and therefore I refuse to spread them around any further.

Seeing these images reminded me of how common grotesque photos are in the media world.  It made me ask myself, “Why do we publish such things?”  You don’t have to look far to find the answer.  First of all, it got my attention.  Often, the images make me want to cry.  I realized the strategy in this: Seeing the images drew me in to see the article and possibly read it, to maybe even buy the paper.  To make me care more about people I don’t know.  Then I thought, what does that tell us about the media?  About ourselves?

For one, are we such horrible people that we couldn’t take notice or shed a tear for people without seeing with our own eyes their pain?  Is seeing really believing?  Do we really need to ogle over distress, injury, and death to amuse ourselves and remember we aren’t that person on the front page?  Does it ever inspire us to actually change anything or get up and help someone?  Isn’t reading a newspaper often like… rubbernecking at a car accident?

But I think the real question is this: What is wrong with the photographers and the journalists who write these articles?  What is wrong with the person that stood there with a camera over a suffering human being so he or she could snap a photo and continue on to the next disaster?  What is wrong with the person that picked the goriest photo and zoomed in on a victim’s face to accompany a front page article highlighting the worst parts – if not very end – of someone’s life?  These people are doing this as a career for profit.  Is it for anything else?  I hope not.  How can you say “I want to be a journalist so I can take pictures of dying people”?  You don’t.  You say, “I want to be a journalist because I want to write and have my articles selected and make money.”

So you go out and write what it takes to get you that front page article.  You do it at the expense of others.  Meanwhile there are people suffering, medics working undercover, and you get all of the glory for someone else’s death.  It’s dog eat dog.

That’s why I think journalists are some of the lowest people on the planet.

The Nebby Media and Kristen Stewart

I figured this would be a good topic to start my new blog on: how much I hate the media, especially in light of a recent event.  That recent event is, of course, Kristen Stewart reportedly cheating on Robert Pattinson with the married-with-two-children director Rupert Sanders.

I have never been a particular fan of Kristen Stewart.  I never know how I feel about her.  She has always seemed to stay true to herself, which I’ve respected, but I’m not sure if really like her as an actress.  She seems to play the same dismal, depressed girl-in-distress in nearly every movie.  What I find particularly interesting in relation to this is the dynamics of the affair, namely how Kristen Stewart somehow manages to be the hearthrob to two very successful men.  True, she is topped the Forbes list in terms of actresses’ incomes, as found at http://www.hollywood.com/news/Kristen_Stewart_Highest_Paid_Actress_Forbes/31330760, but I still don’t know what beyond “thrill” (and maybe a big head) would cause an actress with so much money to cheat on one of Hollywood’s most desired young men.  And what about Rupert?  He just finished directing Snow White and the Huntsman in which Kristen played Snow White and Rupert’s wife Liberty played Kristen’s mother!  That’s a bit twisted.
Since all of this has errupted, Kristen has seemed to make attempts to define the severity of her “cheating”.  In all the downplay, it has been emerging in the media as more of a flirtatious fling than a full-blown affair.  Is this true?  I’m not so sure (and quite frankly don’t care).  To my utter surprise, however, Liberty Ross actually implies that she forgives her husband.  In this article on Entertainment Wise (http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/82987/Liberty-Ross-Forgives-Ruper-Sanders-For-Silly-Kristen-Stewart-Flirtation), Liberty has succombed to this downplaying and smoothed over the creases of what the media has made her husband’s doings out to be.  I’m just worried about the kids… “Mom, what does an affair mean?”  “Mom, does daddy like-like Kristen?”  I can only imagine what they’d say.  Surely they can’t help but catch wind of something plastered over every magazine cover in every store.
But the media is such a pain.  The Paparazzi should be illegal.  People bombarding other people’s lives to dig up secrets in ways that would be harassment if you were someone not making millions of dollars… yet, despite how much hatred there is for the Paparazzi, it continues.  Why?  Because there is a demand for the snooping.  People want the gossip.  People want to know what she eats to look that way, what he wears so they can be successful like him, what they did to cause their celebrity relationship to fall through… What I can’t help but wonder is this: If we didn’t have the media telling us so many of these intimate details, would the victim’s lives be totally different?  Does the media affect the outcome?  And how much isn’t getting turned up that could be?
 
Applying my questions to the Stewart-Pattinson-Sanders disaster: This “affair” came to light whenever the Paparazzi published some photos earlier this month that led to interviews and questions which Stewart and Sanders had to answer to.  Okay, maybe they could’ve walked away, but the tension in their relationships?  That question of what if, what if this isn’t just the Paparazzi?  What if there’s something really going on and you’re not ducking out of the limelight because you don’t feel like dealing with it?  You’re ducking because you’ve been caught?
 
So Sanders and Stewart have got to explain something.  In the meantime, Ross and Pattinson are getting pushed for answers and suspicions.  More and more turns up and so some small tidbits of what might have been happening spill out with more photos.  Suddenly, the media twists words into whatever it wants them to say.  Those pictures of Kristen hugging Rupert, what if, just what if, that was a happy hug about her success?  Nothing more?  Pictures can catch you in the most awkward times… I know that as a dancer because I could be doing all the right motions, but catch me mid-step and I look like I’m falling.
I’m not saying that Kristen didn’t do anything because I don’t know.  And quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.  I think the media should just burn in hell and let people be people.  How would you feel if your boyfriend/girlfriend was seen hugging someone else and you woke up to find the front page of the newspaper with “scandal” and your pictures plastered all over it?  Then you have strangers pounding on your door and blocking your threshold, trying to catch one word from your mouth or one photo of your stressed expression?
 
Regardless of what Kristen did or didn’t do, I’m sure the media will find a way to tear apart everyone’s relationships and marr their reputations… at least until something more entertaining comes along.  In the meantime, Kristen has still been periodically tweeting (about things unrelated to Rob or the affair), and Rob last tweeted July 19th about the TCAs – his first tweet in a couple of months.  (Curious to read his feed maybe?  I’d feel sick seeing all of the comments, good or bad.)  However, there is also rumored talk that Rob was about to propose to Kristen.  In this article http://globalgrind.com/entertainment/robert-pattinson-marry-propose-kristen-stewart-moved-out-details, they supposedly reveal from an “inside source” Rob’s secret motives.  But here’s the thing – they got this scoop from this “inside source” quote:
 
 “Robert hoped to marry Kristen and was making preparations to spring a proposal before she admitted cheating.  He had bought the house in Los Angeles to be their home and saw them staying there for a long time.  Now Rob is angry – h’es left the mansion and not spoken to her since.  They have exchanged heated text messages only.”
 
Okay, “making preparations”.  That could  mean exactly what the article is saying, that he was about to propose.  But it could also just mean he is serious about the relationship and down the road… … … My point is, the media snags any credible or non-credible bit of information, takes it out of context, and creates a new drama that stresses celebrity relationships and destroys people’s trust for one another.  It’s the same as gossip in school, or rumors on campus.  Except it’s much worse.  It’s your career, your life, your reputation, and everyone who does or doesn’t know you sees that tainted image everywhere you go.
My advice: Liberty, do what you gotta do.  Rupert, grow up.  Kristen, duck out of the limelight and get your life together.  Rob, as with Liberty, do what you gotta do and make those decisions based off of reality and not any media-inspired garbage.  Sadly, no matter what these couples decide to do, they’re still going to be judged for their choices.  My advice to them as a whole: Cross your fingers that something enormous will happen.  And, no, I don’t mean World War III – that doesn’t hit home enough for today’s society.  I mean, pray that some other celebrity couple gets a divorce or that Miley Cyrus does something stupid again.  And good luck.