Thursday, 14 July 2011

Drinking from a fire hose.

I entered a newsagent's in Cheltenham yesterday in search of a newspaper. I scanned the racks of dailies, weeklies and monthlies, eventually picking up my desired paper and coming to a certain conclusion: We have far too many celebrity wank rags on sale.

In the 1440s when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, did he ever ponder the sheer height of devolutionary mass-print media that would come several centuries later in the shape of gossip magazines? Endless space on the shelves underneath the single pornography and men’s interest section of the newsagents are taken up by magazines with names like Heat, Hello, Look, Stare, Twee and Bum, all of which have pictures of Cheryl Cole, Katie Price, Peter Andre or all of the above slapped on the cover, like shallow, real-world Alfred E. Neuman type caricatures.

The personal lives of the rich and well-known is really none of my business or interest, so I have a real difficulty coming to a conclusion why anybody reads this shit. Especially considering the only reason why two of the aforementioned people still have careers in media, is because they both fucked each other in a jungle once. As far as I’m concerned, Peter Andre should have been ostracised from public thought and executed quietly in, fittingly, a jungle somewhere immediately after the release of Mysterious Girl in 1995.

Other pressing issues the magazines cover include celebrities without make-up, the best and worst dressed public appearances, weight loss/gain, stalker-esque snaps of well known faces walking through town taken by a paparazzi shitehawk, and “real” stories about “real” people that sound more like police rape and homicide reports then actual stories.

There seems to be a certain correlation between these magazines and the recent News Of The World/Murdoch/News Corporation scandals that link to people being obsessed with useless information. The personal details of celebrities, bereaved mothers and dead teenagers don’t have any weight on the way we live our lives unless we are a part of the story ourselves. To suggest otherwise is outrageously stupid.

One of my theories puts simple human progress at the forefront of the blame. The way current events and other media is presented in the modern world moves at such a bewildering pace, that it’s impossible for the conscious mind to keep up with all or any of it. It is because of this, that society decides to distract itself with brightly coloured piffle instead, and big news stories break and die as quickly as they were sprung. Once the worlds most wanted man was executed earlier this year, news of the Royal Wedding was wiped from the headlines faster than you can say Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Now, I don’t claim to be a feminist, because coming from me that may sound a bit ‘pussy-whipped.’ But I safely assume that magazines like Heat or Gawp or whatever the fuck they’re called, have a majority audience of females. So maybe my female readers can tell me why on earth they buy millions of these magazines every week. Does pointing out the blemishes of high society help you forget your own? Probably. Do you take a genuine interest in what these people are doing at all times? Maybe. Please feel free to let me know. I’m all ears.

In the best of times, keeping up with all of the world’s news can seem like drinking from a fire hose with the constant updates and developments bleeding out of every television, computer and hand-held mobile device. The civil unrest that built up over decades in Libya, Syria, Egypt and other areas of the middle-east seemed to erupt in the blink of an eye once coverage of the first protests broadcast, and an unparalleled feeling of ignorance is only to be expected once something like that pops out on you all of a sudden. But you shouldn’t replace ignorance of important issues of the world with pointless, masturbatory obsessions with the lives of the rich and famous. If you choose to shut yourself off from the news, here’s a list of more rewarding ways you can do so:

  • Read a book that speaks to you in ways that you never thought possible, or that changes your outlook on life, if even slightly. You remember what books are, don’t you?
  • Listen to a groundbreaking, revolutionary record that can make you feel angry, sad, in love, ecstatic, or simply alive. At least a piece of music with more meaning than something Will.I.Am thought of on the toilet last week. Better yet, go to a show and connect with the audience in a way that a ‘Like’ on Facebook can never truly convey.
  • Create something yourself, whether it’s music, poetry, a short story, a painting, or an angry blog post. Not to satisfy or show-off to others, but to gain a sense of excitement or self-fulfilment.
  • Further connect yourself with planet Earth by exploring it. Why spend your whole life rotting in the same place you were born?
  • Stop jabbing at your ultimately fragile iPhone for a while and actually have a conversation with someone. We’ve got into a state of knowing so many people, yet knowing so little about them on a human level and keeping little to no close meaningful friendships with our likeminded acquaintances.

Life may be a meaningless, godless chore, but by keeping any of my five suggestions in mind, it doesn’t have to be any less enjoyable. I’m as guilty of picking holes in the aesthetics of others as anybody else, but using that as the main focus of your existence can turn you into a pretty useless individual yourself, maybe even as useless as Peter fucking Andre.

Photo courtesy of the Guardian.