What if we dropped our worship of celebrities?

Published 9:24 am Monday, August 9, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

Julie Seedorf

I am on my soap box again. That’s what Mr. You Can’t Write That person who also lives in my house would call it.

I am not a football fan. I don’t really care whether Brett Favre plays with the Minnesota Vikings or not.

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I also do not care whether Lindsay Lohan is in or out of jail. Dr. Phil bought a new house and it cost him only $25 million. I don’t really care about that either, but even though I don’t care I have been following the news flashes and the headlines about all these famous people.

It is hard to miss those headlines on websites and newspapers. They flash in front of our faces day and night. Occasionally they trail across our television screen. We are a nation fixated on sports and wealthy celebrities.

Somewhere I read that they are now offering Brett more money. He whines; they offer him a larger salary. What person is really worth the amount of money we pay our celebrities and sports stars? Try whining about your salary in a real, everyday job. You might just be offered the door instead of a higher salary.

You can argue that is it not us, the common people, who are giving these people the wealth that many of us cannot even imagine.

But we are. We shell out big bucks to pay for tickets to sports events or concerts. Add the cost of gas and food and you have what some people would consider a small fortune paid out for a game or an evening of music. We don’t complain.

We are so consumed by all of these celebrities that we will pay a high price to watch their shows, buy their books and buy products they recommend. These celebrities now have an empire and we now have a hole in our wallet.

I like soap operas. I will admit I watch them because they de-stress me. After all, my life can’t be as bad as the lives on the fictional soaps. But soon another one of my soap operas will be off of the air. I can understand that because we do not need soap operas anymore. We have reality TV. We have “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and “The Real Housewives of D.C.” We have shows that follow real families through their daily life. They let us snoop, and we love to watch as their lives unfold and sometimes explode.

I would like to know what makes Lindsay and Brett and the celebrity news that keeps scrolling across our screen more important than the soldiers that are giving their lives and being wounded in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. Do any of us remember their names on a daily basis? Why are we not scrolling across the screen every casualty and every death to keep these important people forefront in our minds? Do we even care?

Why are we not keeping track of every death that is caused by drunken driving or every victim murdered every day in our country? Do we remember any of their names? Do we see this played over and over again in the news the same way we see the same news story about some celebrity caught in the act or making a mistake?

What would happen if instead of celebrity’s photos being splashed across our computer screens and television screen the photos would be replaced by the faces of the homeless children in the United States of America? Perhaps we should have a reality show and feature those homeless children instead of the housewives. Perhaps then because of our love for voyeurism those children would have money to have a home.

We think nothing of dropping money to eat out or to go to a Vikings game or for some other entertainment. Let someone raise our taxes so we can fix our roads or perhaps fund better schools to educate our children and we are the first ones to complain and scream unfair. We complain about the cost to heat our homes and keep ourselves warm, which is a basic need, but we are willing to shell out major bucks for extravagant cell phone plans and outstanding television and Internet.

We have our priorities mixed up in this country. I include myself in that. It is easier to see the bling and concentrate on the glitz and glamour. It is easier to be celebrity wannabes and enjoy ourselves then to face the reality that is hidden under the glitz and the glamour in this country.

Doesn’t it make you wonder if it would change our lives or our priorities if we were visually reminded day after day of the real names and the real faces of the dead, the injured and the homeless? What would happen if the faces of the homeless and the dead and the injured scrolled across our TV screens all day long instead of being a short blip in a news story? Would we remember their names the way we remember Farve or Tiger or Lindsay?

A Facebook friend posed the question: “Lindsay, what about?” and he listed the names of the men and women who had died that day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was angry, and he should have been. He was angry with our priorities. I was ashamed of mine. Had he not posted those names, I would read about Lindsay and checked on the celebrity names listed on the side of the Yahoo! page. I would have clicked on the names and followed the stories. Instead, that day I dug deeper and looked for the names and faces of the soldiers, the children, the families. Do you suppose that day was a blip on my screen and I will go back to my old habits?

Have you ever looked into the face of a homeless child or an injured soldier and asked them how much they are worth? I haven’t. Do you suppose their answer would be $20 million?

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.ne. Her blog is paringdown.wordpress.com. Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”