On June 26, 2007, Associated Press writers were busy covering everything from United Nations nuclear inspectors in Asia to Brazil's new approach to birth control. Still, the AP did not miss the opportunity to report the results of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) annual "World's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebreties" contest.
In case you were wondering, the winning female figure is 24-year-old Carrie Underwood, American Idol and country singer. She also won the title in 2005. Her male counterpart is Kevin Eubanks, 49, and he has a musical background in Jazz and is a key figure on Jay Leno's The Tonight Show.
Now, the vegetarian lifestyle is clearly not a key topic in the news media, and rightly so. If there is no actual news to cover, an issue should not become a topic of media concern. However, since this guideline does not seem to apply to various other issues, such as entertainment, with figures like Paris Hilton making news headlines for weeks, I admit that I prefered reading the AP story about a vegetarian-boosting contest as opposed to the AP story about an ego-inflated woman.
Vegetarianism fits the criteria for news far better than entertianment does anyway. Something is defined as "newsworthy" if it is timely, significant, in close proximity to its audience, prominent, and/or human interest related. Vegetarianism, expecially as related to health, is certainly significant, timely, a cocern to the entire population.
Still, even renowned activist groups, such as PETA, have found that raising awareness about health-related issues is much more effective when it is passed through entertainment first. PETA obviously understands the influence of entertainment, because they list the entertainment industry as one of their four specified areas of concern?
Entertainment has always frustrated me personally, because I have never understood its significance. I appreciate a good film or musical talent like anyone else, but see no purpose in spending gobs of money to supply myself with a steady diet of entertainment "news"- which any remotely legitimate newspaper must literally translate as "gossip."
Besides, neither the entertainers nor the public seem to benefit from our current obsession with the lives of "famous" people. The National Inquirer does not even need to make stories up with a ready supply of the "messed up" coming from the lives of our celebrities. Divorce, addiction, mental illness, disease, scandal, etc. only seem to increase with the popularity of the person in question.
The truth is that enterainment affects us all a lot more than we can measure or admit. The dramatic and detrimental influence of entertainment, replete with loads of unsolicited advertisements, is nothing new. In Hitler's day, they called it indoctrination, but the process and results are really the same.
Entertainment monopolizes on and manipulates the God-given propensity for the young to admire the older, and for everyone to strive for the ideal. Instead of teaching that the proper lifestyle is one of self-control, entertainment exploits desire, teaching that what we want is equivalent to what we need.
Entertainment should not be allowed to take advantage of the news media, as simply one more platform for advertisement. Whether the message is "save the animals" or "buy this lipstick," be aware that, when it comes to entertainment, there is always message, and it is usually a couple hundred dollars more than just for the sake of the cause.