The sadness and feelings of despair have invaded the deepest part of me. It is hard to concentrate on anything else but the loss I, like millions of others, am enduring. How will we function now? What will fill the void? We’ve all suffered losses in the past, but this seems particularly hard to overcome. It obviously affects everyone, but it will hit hardest among the young ones since they will never really know the value of what they have lost. They will hear stories from their parents, but how can that make up for experiencing the real thing? As the grief permeates me, I too want to lay flowers and write my condolences and pray for a miracle resurrection.
I’m not talking about the loss of Michael Jackson. I’m talking about the death of education in California as funding is slashed with the broad strokes of a legislative machete.
But so few people seem to be upset with the loss. Of education, that is. Millions are pouring out their hearts and souls over the tragic death of the King of Pop, but where are the mourners over the draconian cuts in education that is tantamount to a death sentence?
Don’t misinterpret my words as you read them. I am sad to see the passing of Michael Jackson, a person of unbelievable talent. But the non-stop memorializing for nearly a week only makes it obvious that we are a society that is obsessed with stardom and largely blase to all else. God rest his soul, but Michael Jackson is not a President, not a exiled spiritual leader such as the Dalai Lama, not a Dr Martin Luther King, not even a person of sustained inegrity such as Mother Antonia
who shed her life of privilige in Beverly Hills to move into a Mexican prison to minister to the forgotten. He was a pop singer with questionable moral fortitude. In other words, let’s appreciate and mourn the loss of a talented pop star, but let’s not canonize the man.
Perspective is so lacking in this celebrity-consumed society. You can’t necessarily blame the media either since the media are feeding what the public wants to see, hear and read. That is why, according to the Project in Excellence in Journalism at The Pew Research Center posted the following: “From the time of the announcement of [Michael Jackson’s] death through the end of day Friday, more than 28 hours (60% of news coverage studied) was dedicated to Jackson’s passing. Cable news led the coverage, devoting 93% of airtime to the icon on Thursday and Friday. The story captured 55% of online coverage and 37% of front-page newspaper coverage. All other stories vied for attention amidst the biggest celebrity story in a decade.” For the complete story from the Project in Excellence in Journalism, click here.
Yes, it’s a big story. But is it the most important story six days later? Is it more important than the drastic cuts to education in California that will affect millions of students? In terms of a measurable affect, it’s easy to reason that the firing of teachers, larger class sizes, and the elimination of programs will have a much more profound and direct impact on people than the funeral arrangements for a pop icon.
Perhaps if our society showed the same amount of interest in non-celebrity news, such as the cuts to education, the unrest in Iran, or health care reform, then maybe the satellite trucks and morning talk show hosts would set up their makeshift studios not at Neverland Ranch, but in front of the Board of Education or City Council. There they could demand answers and request reports about the cuts in the same exact manner they do now when reporting about Jackson’s will, custody issues and prescription medications. Imagine the possibilities, but don’t hold out hope this will happen. After all, there’s always Jon and Kate, and their exploited 8, to fall back on.
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