It is weird that ever since I became a journalist, I find myself actually defending certain sections of journalism a lot more than I ever did before. It is with this in mind that I come to a strong bother of mine – one that I have battled repeatedly over the past few years: the interest in pop culture/entertainment news. More specifically, it has to do with what other people declare is a necessity for a push of “actual” or “real” news.
Today, while scrolling through my Twitter, I noticed that someone had reposted a tweet of someone calling out a website for speaking about LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian’s ongoing clashes with paparazzi. “Sorry guys,” it read, “I know there’s some real news happening, but let’s focus on what’s really important.”
Admittedly, it was a harsh week for the world. For starters, more than two hundred people perished after a Malaysia Airlines craft was shot down over Ukraine, their second plane to be lost in less than a year. On top of that, Israel has officially commenced ground invasions on Gaza, bringing forth fear that another war is imminent. There are many real world issues going on and we all know that. However, who really wins when someone is called out for sharing a story that may seem “trivial” to someone else?
I had to actually do something I rarely like to do on social media: counteract someone’s point. In the tweet, the link that was shared happened to belong to a well-known pop culture and entertainment site. In fact, this particular website has been operating for almost a decade. It is one of the leading resources for news in those particular fields. One would not actually see a story related to bigger world issues, such as the Malaysian aircraft being shot down, on there, but I guess in that person’s frustration, they did not realize this. So, I decided to help them out a bit.
“I mean no disrespect,” I responded, “but do you expect an entertainment site to talk about world news stories?” Not so surprisingly, I did not receive an answer.
As a person who has always had a strong interest in pop culture and entertainment and now actually has the privilege to write in this medium, here’s the thing: Yes, we all know there is “real news” out there. We are not blind to the harsh realities of the world. With that being said, do others realize that there are different facets of news and reporting stories?
For example, I work mostly in entertainment/pop culture news, so you more than likely will not read something I write that steps outside of that medium (although every once in a while, I may be inclined to do so). When one attacks an entertainment/pop culture website on not talking about “real news,” do they actually realize what they are going after? If you want “real news,” you’ve got CNN, ABC News, FOX News -the latter of which I hope is mostly avoided like the plague, TIME, The New York Post etc. The list goes on and on. Going after sites like TMZ, Just Jared or E! News does not really seem to make sense, nor does it help to win the argument.
Growing up, I realized early that I tended to be more attuned to lighter sections of news as opposed to more harsh situations that were going on around me. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I was born and raised in the Bronx during the 1980’s and yes, all of the images that came to your head after reading that, I have actually lived through. It probably was not until my early teen years that I realized that if you wanted to know more about a book, a celebrity or the behind-the-scenes moments of a movie, there were actually magazines that catered to that interest. Of course, I had come across the odd tabloid as a child, but I did not actively peruse them until that point of adolescence. Once I did, oh, how I dived right in.
That did not mean that I was not aware of what was going on in the world. I have lived through seeing people I grew up with either in jail or no longer with us. I have witnessed the dark side of drugs and how they eat up the lives of close friends and relatives. I have also had personal struggles through which I had to climb. Checking into TMZ or US Weekly does not make me a bad person. Sharing stories from those publications does not mean that someone has no concern about “real stories.”
It is a form of escape to some and a level of interest to others. As for me, it is a bit of both. I do not think there is anything wrong with that. However, I do think that there might be something wrong with those who attack others who are interested in entertainment and/or pop culture news. Why would someone attack something that brings people outside of the constant negative aspects of life, even if only for a moment?
All of this brings to mind a joke once told by a comedienne named Adele Givens. You might remember her from The Queens of Comedy. “Say you knew we [were] living in our last days,” she wonders. “Why are you gonna f*** up my last few days by sharing the news?”
We get it, guys. There are other things going on out there in the world. People are dying, losing jobs, and getting sick. There are small and huge wars going on and overall, life on Earth is sometimes a huge and crazy mess. Perhaps people should stop adding to it by knocking others down a peg simply because they would like to know what Kim Kardashian did yesterday – although you should probably avoid stories on that woman in the same way you hopefully avoid FOX News. But who am I to tell you what to do?
By Jonathan Brown
Talking Tree Creative