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AMERICAN CULTURE

Level of celebrity worship shocking, disturbing

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POSTED June 28, 2009 2:18 a.m.
Michael Jackson died this week.

Have you heard?

While it’s sad that a supremely-talented musician met his demise, in the big scheme of things, Jackson’s death means nothing more than Uncle Morty’s.

The day Jackson died, and in the days following, I have repeatedly turned on the news expecting to be informed about the many pressing concerns this country currently faces, including the ongoing political conflict in Iran or America’s floundering health care reform issue.

But turning on the television with the hope of any sort of intellectual discourse since Jackson’s death has been an utter act of futility (although some would argue that turning on the television for anything intellectual is always an act of futility).

Listen, I don’t care about Jackson’s toxicology report.

I don’t care about his postmortem custody battle.

I don’t care about his record sales, or whether Jackson or Elvis Presley is considered the greatest musical “artist” of all time.

I don’t even consider Jackson or Presley “artists.”

I consider both “products,” because that’s exactly what they are, no different than Frito-Lay or Pepsi.

Thursday night on my Facebook page, I sarcastically posted that I was planning on wearing a glove to work the next day to mourn the loss of Jackson.

Then, when I showed up Friday (sans glove), I logged on to MSN.com, only to be treated to a pictorial slide show that included a harem of Jackson zealots standing outside a hospital in Los Angeles sporting – what else – white cotton gloves.

The next picture in the slide show depicted two women sobbing uncontrollably at Jackson’s cemented star on Hollywood Boulevard.

What’s wrong with people in this country?

Has the entire nation lost its collective mind?

Or, more to the point, has celebrity worship completely stolen any and all brains cells the people of this land once possessed?

Ironically, it was comedian Dave Chapelle that once said, “There’s too much goo-goggin’ over celebrities. People don’t know what’s fake and what’s real anymore.”

On average, 100,000 Americans move to Los Angeles every year in hopes of making it big.

One out of 99,999 ever do.

Yet the possibility of stardom draws hundreds of thousands of capable and otherwise productive citizens to Los Angeles every year to wait tables.

Then, inexplicably, we wonder why Honda blows us out of the water with cars that actually run for more than two years and throw billions of tax payer dollars at our failing auto industry.

Last Wednesday, the movie, “Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen” grossed $60.6 million on opening day.

Are you serious?

That many Americans slapped down their hard-earned cash to watch a computer-generated flick based on a plastic-toy fad in the 1980s?

Here’s a fact that few know, and even fewer seem to care about: When accepting film projects, Hollywood studio executives only green-light projects that appeal to 12-year-olds.

Why?

Because the biggest movie-going months are June through August, when the kiddies are free to roam the streets and consume as much mindless crap alongside their $12 buckets of popcorn as possible.

The reality of the Hollywood industry, like any, is that it’s all about the green, and, unfortunately, in this country, people spend far too much money on entertainment and let media-driven dreams of fortune and fame rule their lives.

We pour billions of dollars every year into a fake industry, and most of those dollars will never come back.

The majority are shoveled hand-over-fist into personal off-shore accounts, and those that do make it back will show up next summer in the form of “Transformers 3: Here We Go Again.”

Until Americans start to wake up and realize that as Hollywood’s most shameless enabler, we are, and will always be our own worst enemy.

We are blessed in this country.

We have the power to bring about positive change to a suffering world.

Instead, we spend $60.6 million on a Wednesday to watch some dude named “Shia” battle cartoon robots against a green-screen.

Lord, help us.

We know not what we do.
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