Mass communication refers to the various methods of data and information communication on a global scale. It was revolutionised with the growth of the telephone and internet, which are arguably two of the most important inventions in modern history. The current generation of teens (myself included) are considered to be the most pompous, self-absorbed and the most narcissistic generation yet by our elders. Why I hear you ask? Because of mass media.
The Internet was invented in 1973 and by the 21st century it was the most used method of file sharing. The Internet allows access to the World Wide Web, a global connection of HTML files that provides the population with the news, music, communication with other people and most importantly free porn. Search engines annually produce reports on the most searched items and they show celebrities at the top of the rankings. Television has become so widely used that almost every household in the west has a television.
With TV’s dictating our lives and our interests, society became infatuated with celebrity culture. We idolise pop stars, love models, and aspire to be Hollywood stars. Celebrities have subsequently been placed on a higher pedestal than us mere plebs. Our obsession with which Kardashian is pregnant and who Katy Perry is currently dating has made celebrity news appear more important than real news. Walking into any newsagents or a grocery store and you will be staggered at the amount of celebrity magazines on the shelf. Society has become so desensitized to images of real news that most people could probably eat their dinner to images of poverty stricken Africans on the news. Ask any teenager about the situation in Syria, the answer will most likely be a blank expression of ignorance. But ask them about Chris Brown’s relationship status an answer will be produced in less than 0.4 seconds.
Constant exposure to beautiful, flawless airbrushed celebrities have made society obsessed with self-improvement and beauty. Plastic surgeons are performing on patients younger than 20 years ago. Every now and then there’s a miracle cream stating if you buy enough you can actually reverse the natural process of ageing. It’s as if society has convinced us if don’t look like Bradley Cooper or Angelina Jolie you will be left hopelessly single cowering in the corner of a dark alley. This obsession has led to a ‘Swag’ generation of zombie like teenagers constantly texting each other about their number of likes on their Facebook profile pic. The term ‘Swag’ almost appeared from mid-air and has quickly become the most annoying term branded by the teens. From my understanding it is a person’s measurement of the style or sex appeal or even affinity towards a painful death. Well the latter is my definition. With access to the thoughts and activities of celebrities being posted on the internet through twitter has further disabled teenagers. Who would actually have believed that in the space of 40 years we’d go from connecting to musicians primarily through vinyl albums such as Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ to knowing what cereal Rhianna had for breakfast.
Even the music being produced today has been affected by mass media. Previously during the 60s and 70s the main focus of music was on the music, as one would assume. As the importance of television and video grew the focus shifted to the image. The music industry realized the importance of capitalizing on the shift and what came next was the emergence of mediocre manufactured pop boy bands. Mainstream artists outshone the talented musicians who have been resorted to the underground indie scene.
Is the obsession an escape from reality? The world is suffering from inflation, rising national debt, government cuts, we aim to convert our attention to images of celebrities living the high life. Look at the TV show ‘Cribs’. A personal insight into the homes of Celebrities. A vapid look around of some minor celebrity. I’m not sure what part is the saddest, the part where you watch the show or the part that some tactless celebrity with no talent or personality owns a home which will never be attainable for us. Cribs shows everything which is depressive about our celebrity culture, only in our society a teen singer living in such a superfluous lifestyle, possessing 3 sport cars, 2 swimming pools and a 20 seat personal cinema. This lifestyle seeps into the minds of the young and they begin to feel unsatisfied with the current lifestyle.
This leads me to ‘My Sweet 16’. An MTV show which at first glance appears to be a cheap reality show about spoilt brats. But if you peer closer in you realize it’s an expose on how our faltering civilization is slowly crumbling away. Every episode shows a super-rich teenager going through plans to arrange their parties. They give invitations in most arduous method possible, but not before requiring plebs to embarrass themselves to get an invitation. As the show progresses you begin to hate child due to their incessant demands and bitch-y behaviour to the parents. At the end, you reach a new level of anger which often leaves you fantasizing their deaths in the most gruesome manner.
While some seek that others derive pleasure from seeing the misfortunes of others. The term is called Schadenfreude, we watch with morbid fascination as our modern gods and goddesses go bankrupt, have their relationships fall apart, and succumb to drug abuse. When you tune into the celebrity plight, most will take some joy in their misery. Look no further than Lindsay Lohan, the once cute lovable star child has become a regular rehab patient. We watch with silent judgement and seek to compare our position to hers and feel prideful, not fortunate. What’s most worrying is the situation will inevitable become worse.
This article was first posted on February 18, 2013