On Monday morning I wrote about the very real probability that the United States was about to open military hostilities with Syria. The readership of this blog responded with a collective yawn, a few scattered page views. Yesterday, I wrote about a raunchy performance by Miley Cyrus at the MTV awards show and everything blows up, the most page views I’ve had in over a year. Apparently, even at a sleepy back water media outpost like The Tempest, sex sells.
Everyone I know complains about the media. It’s too biased; it’s too infatuated with the sensational, too enamored with flash, while ignoring “real” news. After writing a blog for nearly three years now, I can say without hesitation that, while the political and cultural bias of the media is a reflection of them, their promotion of the sensational is a reflection of us.
If this blog was my living, if I depended on page views for my income, in order to survive I would constantly have to write about the salacious. It is guaranteed to attract readers… period. Works every time. The fact is that people aren’t interested in the federal budget deficit. They aren’t interested in government corruption, malfeasance, or the erosion of our Fourth amendment rights to privacy. They don’t even seem all that concerned about our participation in yet another military adventure in the Middle East. But let a twenty year old spoiled brat shake her bottom on an awards show and all of a sudden Americans snap to attention.
Let me be clear on this. When I say “Americans,” I’m talking about myself too. When I click on the Drudge Report or the Huffington Post, I too tend to be drawn to the most provocative story. When I’m browsing through the first page of the Wall Street Journal, what do I read first, the story about the possible nominees to replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed, or the latest embarrassing sexual depravity to be unearthed about Anthony Weiner? Too often, it’s Weiner. Which one of these stories will have the biggest impact on our nation and actually affect my daily life and prosperity? Seeing as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is the most powerful man/woman in the world, the answer is self-evident, but my eyes can’t resist the dirt on Weiner.
Maybe it’s all a giant conspiracy. Maybe the big shots in the media think that if they can keep us all excited and exercised about Miley Cyrus, Anthony Weiner, Alex Rodriguez and Lady Gaga, we won’t notice that the wheels are flying off the country and we’re headed for the Grand Canyon.
Bread and circuses.