Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Jamie Lynn Spears and the cult of idiocy

Posted on | October 8, 2008 | 4 Comments

It’s hard to get a sense for how bad it might become here in the coming months. You read stories in the papers and hear stories on NPR about how the credit crisis is hitting small business, but I think most of us have yet to see and feel it first hand. We do have a foreboding, however, that it could be just around the bend.
When you’re were a kid and learned about the Great Depression, you had this sense–at least I did–that, Oh shit! the stock market crashed and then the next 10 years were dismal for all involved. But, as with nature, the financial world is not so tidy. Things evolved.
Obviously, we just don’t know how things are going to evolve today. But in the meantime, we have our media to guide us. This is how it goes:
(morning) Oh shit! The stock market’s crashing!
(mid morning) Free fall!!!!
(afternoon) I told you the stock market was going to crash!
(early evening) Hey, there’s a debate tonight…. don’t miss it!
(evening) Man don’t those guys look great? One guy’s a great hero; the other a wonderful, handsome orator!
(evening)Hey, wasn’t that a great debate? Nobody landed any punches (or said anything of substance), but 60 million people watched and that makes advertisers really happy.
(morning) Oh shit! The overseas markets plummeted. That’s bad for us!
(afternoon) We’re crashing but not as bad as yesterday. Can’t really tell you why. It is what it is.
(late afternoon)Oh SWEEEEEEET JESUS! Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant again!!! Or not!!!!! Whatever!!!!! Just post stuff!!!

I am heartily amused by the absurd, don’t get me wrong. But I’m mortified that much of the country, at this point in time, can be cowed into “look, over there!” by the screens glowing in the corners of every room of our post-modern lives.
Look over there is not right at a time when (a) we have a presidential election and (b) perhaps the most calamitous financial crisis in 80 years. This, my friends, is an inflection point in American history. Musicals came of age in the 1930s because people wanted an upbeat escape from the Depression. We’re not there yet and we have no excuse not to take our roles as citizens more seriously.

Oh. Sorry. Hey, pass the remote would ya?

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4 Responses to “Jamie Lynn Spears and the cult of idiocy”

  1. Ryerson
    October 9th, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    I think this is what happens when you have 24 hours of news to fill, but perhaps only a couple of hours of something serious and useful to say.

    So you fill it with talking heads blathering about anything they can think of to try to keep you glued to the screen. Fear! Sex! Chiuauas!

    I think 24 hour news would work great if they realized that at least 20 of it needed to be in-depth stuff that wasn’t just ‘breaking’ news.

    But what producer can bring himself to do an interesting feature on the state of the US power grid say, when he could have breaking news of Britney’s latest beaver flash?

    Particularly when I fear his audience is much more interested in the flash….

  2. Loring Wirbel
    October 9th, 2008 @ 7:30 pm

    It’s been proven through a bunch of CNN web site click studies with focus groups. Yes, even with the intelligentsia. Give them a choice of studying hedge funds, understanding the surge strategy, or finding out who’s in rehab, and rehab wins every time. And all of you who say, “Oh, not me,” I’ll be anything you have Valleywag and bookmarked.

  3. CraigM
    October 13th, 2008 @ 12:30 am

    Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death. It’s not meant to be that depressing a book, but when you realize it was written in 1985 (before blogs, before 24-hour cable news became a sensation), you get depressed.

    It’s about how, thanks to TV, our society now expects everything to be entertaining: our news, our elections, our schools, our religion. It seems like a brutally obvious point, yet so many people glued to Fox/CNN are so oblivious to it.

  4. Ryerson
    October 14th, 2008 @ 1:44 pm


    You may be right. Though when I want the absurd or to be amused I go to fark.

    While CNN tries to become the national enquirer, why don’t I just go there if I want that, and to a real news site if I want that?

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