Thank You, Maria

Seeing as I don’t live in California, I’m pretty indifferent toward the Governator and his wife, Maria Shriver.

At least I was until I read this article. Now Maria Shriver is my new hero.

If you’re too lazy to click on the link, basically, she recently talked about how she had been planning on going back into TV news this year, but she changed her mind after seeing network coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death. She decided she didn’t want to work in an industry that put so much importance on events like that.

Already I can feel the backlash starting—I’m sure people are going to be saying it’s sour grapes and that she’s probably just making excuses.

But I think she’s 100% right. The amount of media coverage given to stupid celebrity stories is ridiculous. When there’s a war going on, people dying of AIDS, global warming, and any other number of important situations that affect the lives of millions of people, the media chooses to focus on…the death of a woman who did approximately nothing with her life?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I buy People now and then, and I can’t say I don’t engage in celebrity gossip conversations sometimes. My celebrity literacy isn’t any lower than the average American’s.

But the degree to which some people obsess over celebrities amazes me. Last year, I had an internship where one of my duties was researching this blog, whose material often includes entries about celebrity parents. It was fun, but in the process I discovered that there are some scary celebrity gossip addicts out there. This was the summer after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter Suri was born, and no pictures of her had been made public. People were speculating on whether she existed or whether the whole pregnancy was part of a diabolical Scientology plot. I actually found one website counting the numbers of days that had passed without a picture being released. And another one had a picture taken from a helicopter that they claimed was of Katie Holmes standing by a window in her house holding something that may or may not have been a baby.

There really is something wrong with a world that focuses on the conditions Paris Hilton will be living in while she’s incarcerated while ignoring the injustices that lead to wrongful imprisonment for the poor. Or speculates about whether Lindsay Lohan’s on drugs while doing nothing to keep drugs away from kids. Or expressing dismay over Alec Baldwin’s phone message to his daughter while letting the TV parent our own kids. And TV news is doing nothing to change that.

Anna Nicole Smith didn’t make anything happen. High-profile fortunes and misfortunes were just thrust upon her. But stories like hers are keeping us from hearing about the people who are making things happen. And when even serious news networks are going down that road, you know there’s a problem.

So…good for Maria Shriver for saying it out loud. I can only hope that her comments will make networks reconsider what’s worthy of round-the-clock coverage in the future.

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