Gorging Ourselves on Media Pop Tarts

By Jason Menard

So, after months of speculative bombardment – headlines shouting from the covers of the magazine racks infiltrating us through osmosis as we wait to pay for groceries – Nick and Jessica have officially split.

But it’s not the glossy celebrity rags or trashy tabloids that are spouting off this news – it’s the respected sites: CBC, CANOE, CNN, and MSNBC that have chosen to feature this minor piece of fluff on their respective front pages. On a day when the gauntlet has been thrown down in order to disband our Canadian minority government and on a day when the U.S. is celebrating Thanksgiving, Nick and Jessica’s breakup is on the marquee.

In fact, why can I comfortably refer to them without their surnames and be reasonably confident that you, the reader, will know who they are? The reason is that we’ve let the banal and trivial become relevant!

All the news that’s fit to print – no matter if the substance is so light that it will blow away with the next gentle breeze. Which all goes to prove that, no matter how fluffy the meal may be – or no matter how full we are — if a meal is wrapped up in a pretty package we’ll gorge ourselves at the buffet of banality and head back for seconds!

Did you hear? Pamela Anderson is now pressuring the Loblaws grocery chain to label which eggs have come from caged chickens, in order to allow shoppers the freedom to choose whether they want to buy their eggs from free range, happy chickens, or continue to support the oppression and cruelty of evil doers who would force these helpless hens to pop them out in sub-standard conditions so that you can enjoy a nice omelette.

Really? Why? With all the people in the world who are eminently more qualified to speak to issues – or even clutter our airwaves – why are we so focused on these vixens of vapid (in Nick’s case he’d be a fox of vapid, but that doesn’t have the same cachet.)?

At least in Anderson’s case, I’d like to think that she’s using her powers for good. With Nick and Jessica, this he-said-she-said, on-again-off-again questioning, reeks of nothing more than a way to keep their names in the headlines for yet another week. Perhaps now we can state ourselves through the holiday season by being regaled with the inevitable reconciliation rumours and next round of spats.

And we buy it, hook, line, and sinker. In both Simpson and Anderson’s cases they’ve translated a paltry amount of talent and an ample bust into relevancy. But they’re not the first and they certainly won’t be the last, because when it comes to cornering the market on being newsworthy for nothing, women corner the market. In fact, although Nick Lachey is often tabloid fodder, it’s more as an appendage to the media machine that is Jessica Simpson (see, they do have last names!). On his own, he can now count down the remaining few ticks of his 15 minutes and start looking back at what was.

Yes, women mount the publicity pedestal and we can’t stop watching. The sex-kitten Madonna begat Whitney Houston and her drug whispers. Houston begat Mariah Carey and her breakdown. Carey begat Jennifer Lopez and her serial marriages. Lopez begat Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Jessica Simpson who moved from chaste, virginal paragons of society to publicity-grabbing, borderline-jailbait, sex objects. This unholy trinity begat the over-exposed — in every sense of the word — Paris Hilton. And this is hardly a comprehensive list: the names Lohan, Doherty, Kournikova, Reid, Jolie, and Aniston have all hog-tied the headlines for nothing more than being themselves.

Guys are few and far between – although what we miss in quantity we certainly make up for in quality (a relative term): Michael Jackson anyone? Paging Mr. Simpson and Mr. Blake – the real killers are waiting.

No, our hunger for banality is only sated with a side order of salaciousness. Our Q&A needs to have a little T&A to have any, uhm, legs. And it’s only going to get worse. The Wired World has opened up new avenues for investigation and insinuation. The advent of 24-hour news means that each and every topic has ample time to be analyzed – and over analyzed – to death.

And with each of these stories, the accompanying images are always as lascivious as standards will allow. With almost every Simpson story, we are greeted with yet another image of her in a bikini taken from her acting debut. Yes, while only a handful of people subjected themselves to the horror of The Dukes of Hazzard, millions more have been exposed – almost fully – to Jessica’s acting assets. These starlets are always shown in various states of undress – as if they’ve never stepped out of their homes in a T-shirt or, perish the thought, a pantsuit.

While the eye candy may be sweet, ultimately it’s unfulfilling. And in the end, when all is said and done we’re left with disposable, fast-food trivia. What do we remember in life: wolfing down drive-through out of a paper bag or the well-prepared meals of substance that take us more time to enjoy?

Both we and our newsmakers decide what we want out of life. Do we want something of substance that takes time to chew over and digest, but allows us to fully enjoy a variety of flavours and textures?

Or do we simply want a Pop Tart?

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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