You turn on your TV on a Monday night to watch what? Maybe it’s your favorite drama series, a comedy show, to put in a good movie, catch up on Netflix, watch your favorite professional sports players, or even to watch an awards show such as the Grammy’s or the Oscars. You look at the people on these shows and maybe, you envy them. They seem to have everything anyone could ever possibly dream of or want. In fact, they may have things that you didn’t even know existed. The coolest gadgets, the newest cars, the most luxurious clothes—it makes sense that they get so much attention.
Now think about why they have all these things. What do they do? They sing, they act, they tell jokes; they play sports. They all have assumedly more enjoyable and lower-stress jobs than the average American. Sure, getting that last take of the movie in before the deadline may feel like a bit of a time crunch, but it is not like these people are acting in any extraordinary life-or-death situations. So why are they paid so much? Stadiums, retailers, and record labelers make hundreds of millions of dollars off of these people each year and the celebrities themselves are paid inordinate sums of money– All for doing what? Putting on a show; kicking a ball; singing a song. Now look at your next door neighbor who happens to be a policeman or firefighter, or maybe, a retired American soldier. His house is pretty normal; he wears decent clothing, and drives a car that is about six years old. His life looks like nothing special; however, his job is. Last night he pulled over a drunk driver to protect the citizens of your town and tonight he will save the little boy that you babysit from perishing in a burning building. His actions seem pretty extraordinary. Yet you don’t see him making millions of dollars a year and living in a high rise apartment. And you certainly don’t see him on TV endorsing the newest type of Gatorade. You take him for granted even though he may be the reason that you weren’t in a fatal car accident last night.
Now, turn from the entertainment channel to the nightly news. What’s that? Yet another one of your favorite singers has gone to rehab for cocaine abuse or was arrested for a DUI. You continue watching and the story changes from the disgrace of America’s celebrities to foreign affairs and the troops that are still stationed overseas. There is a young soldier who was just killed. The television flashes pictures of his family and friends mourning the loss and a voice-over describing the great person that this man was. You feel bad for this man and his family and are maybe even amazed by his impressive actions. But despite this impressive story, this is all you hear about this young soldier and you forget his name within the next day or so.
This all seems pretty theoretical but let’s take it into real-life context. Just this past week Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, and his wife Gwyneth Paltrow, announced that their marriage is over because of “irreconcilable differences” and that they will soon be getting a divorce. If this is the first time you have heard this bit of juicy tabloid meat, then you have probably been living under a rock for the past few days. This piece of information has been all over any sort of news or entertainment site that you can possibly find and will probably be the main topic on television shows like “E!” for the next month. It is no doubt, sad news. Any breakup of a marriage is a tragedy in and of itself but it is it really important enough to make fans distraught for the next three months? And while you may have been lamenting the breakup of this power couple you might have missed some other very devastating news that happened over the past week. This past Wednesday Will McKamey, a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, passed away after collapsing at a football practice. It was an extremely sudden and devastating loss that no one saw coming. Or maybe you heard about the huge fire that happened in Boston on Wednesday– the fire that took the lives of a father and a retired marine while injuring many others. However, if you haven’t heard about these honorable people who passed away during the week it was probably because it was never talked about to the extent that you would hear about it on every radio or television show. Or in other words, it wasn’t publicized to the level that Chris Martin’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s breakup was.
There is certainly nothing wrong with catching up on your favorite celebrity gossip or talking about it with friends, but what people need to realize is that there are people who are just as deserving of the attention and respect that the average pop artist gets. Unfortunately, the media may never change. There is no telling when one day the top stories will be those of brave soldiers dying in the line of combat or the valiant actions of the state police. However, as individuals we can try to remember these everyday heroes and maybe pay a little more attention and respect to their stories.
– Kaitlyn Powell