January 26, 2008

When a star dies...

The cult of celbrity is a mighty powerful thing. Where once the death of an actor would have been regulated to Entertainment Tonight. MuchMusic, and the like, in our fame-obsessed culture Heath Ledger's passing was the lead on every major television news station and top-of-list of every global news websites. The same day Heath's death was announced in the media, a major report was released with the nearly incomprehensible news that since 1998, 5.4 million people have been killed in Congo in its onging civil war. Unfortunately, you didn't hear about the fact that 45,000 people continue to die each month in Congo because all of your news sources were competing with TMZ and Perez Hilton to cover an actor's death. I am a news junkie and I can attest that I only found out about the Congo horrors because I stumbled across the report. In other words, that 5-million people have died (equivalent to the entire city of Bangalore being wiped out) in Congo was not being screamed from the rooftops of our stewards of the truth is a sad, sad state of affairs.
I suppose the response from the mainstream media news editors/directors is that they are merely giving their audience what they want and, in light of the proliferation of the all-celebrity-news-all-the-time alternatives, they have no choice. Silly me, I thought the role of said news editors has always been to give the audience what they need to hear.
I write this not because I wasn't affected by Heath's death. I write this because I was overly affected by Heath's death; so much so that even when I learned about the horrific tragedy in Congo my grief remained disproportionately balanced towards Heath's passing. I am not sure what to do with that fact, or what is says about me. So a black rose then, for Heath and for each of those who have perished in a terrible war that no one has ever heard of.

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