Why Are Americans So Obsessed with Celebrities?
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I knew I was back in America when I turned on the news.
It was Sunday morning. While on a trip to Africa, I had followed each day the growing tension between the United States and Iran, so I switched on the TODAY show at 8am to see if anything important had happened during the night.
The first item of news was from Africa.
It wasn't news of Darfur where radical Islamists daily massacre people while their government turns a blind eye. It wasn't news of the AIDS epidemic which has affected Africa more than any other continent. It wasn't news from the Congo where a civil war has left more dead than in Europe during World War I.
It wasn't news from Zimbabwe which now has the highest rate of inflation in the world (over 1000%) and the lowest life expectancy (37 for men, 34 for women). But the news was highlighting a country close to Zimbabwe—Namibia, where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had decided their first child should be born!
That was the big news! The news, I might add, that most viewers had been waiting for!
Seeing this was the main item of news, I knew I was back in America!
We are a celebrity conscious culture. I read sometime ago that one third of Americans are obsessed with celebrities. The same report said that one in ten was obsessed to the point of being almost psychotic, willing to stalk their favorite celebrity.
Sometimes, I don't know who the media is talking about. I haven't even heard of the celebrities they are reporting on. Everybody else seems obsessed with them but I wouldn't recognize them if I stood next to them in a supermarket check-out line or saw their faces on the covers of all the magazines!
When was the last time you checked for a serious news magazine in the supermarket check-out line? Is anybody interested in serious news any more?
Of course, some are, but not as many as in celebrity news and gossip. There are more celebrity magazines than news magazines.
The Book of Job laments that "man…drinks iniquity like water!" (Job 15:16). Psalm 52:3 bemoans that humans "love evil more than good." Iniquity—sin—is the staple of many celebrity news items, filled with the latest gossip on who is sleeping with whom! And the readers lap it up. They drink it in, like water. Reports of good works being performed by the same celebrities would seldom be of the same interest.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie aren't the first two celebrities to go to Africa and make the headlines. Others have gone before them. Invariably, after a short visit, including overnight stays in the most expensive hotels, many suddenly become experts on Africa and its problems! At least, the celebrity conscious media thinks so.
But what about the real news that celebrity gossip denies the public? Why is it that a celebrity baby is of greater interest than the possibility of a nuclear exchange between Iran and the West? What does it say about us that, as a nation, we prefer gossip to news of substance? It's all about ratings! TV news is simply giving the people what they want most!
Jesus Christ warned of conditions that will precede His second coming. In one passage He likens the world at the time of His return to the world in the time of Noah, immediately prior to the flood. "For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:38-39).
Through Noah, God sent a warning message to the people of the world for 120 years (Genesis 6:3) but nobody beyond Noah's own family listened.
Today the same is true. Few are heeding Christ's warning of the coming upheavals that will precede His return. Most will ignore it, continuing to live as they have always lived, disregarding the teachings of God and His call to repentance, right up until the fulfillment of the end-time prophesied events.
It needn't be that way. In Revelation 18:4 God says concerning this end-time cultural system, "Come out of her, My people, and be not partakers of her sins." A good start would be to give up our national obsession to celebrity gossip that seems to be the mainstay of our contemporary media!
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