The Real World and the Real News

By Katie Tabeling

Opinion Editor


On June 25, 2009, the music world was shaken when the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was struck down by a heart attack brought on by propofol intoxication, only a few weeks shy of turning 51. Jackson, despite his eccentric tendencies, left a huge impact on pop culture and he will be sorely missed.  However, Jackson’s legacy of controversy doesn’t end there. In Feb. 2010, Jackson’s personal physician Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter for providing the lethal combination of a strong sedative and two anti-anxiety drugs. The trial began September 27, 2011, and if Murray is convicted, he faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

Cut and dry court case? Think again. The case of The People vs. Murray, due to the high-profile victim, is insanely publicized. For the trial’s first day, it became the leading story on countless news stations. The Internet is littered with articles following it, and, frighteningly enough, a Wikipedia page for The People vs. Murray case, complete with links that stream it live.

Is there something wrong with this picture? It’s understandable that Jackson’s family would want answers to Michael Jackson’s unnatural death. But where should we draw the line between what inquiring minds should and should not know; or rather, how much attention should we give to the persons of interest? Yes, the death of a pop star is tragic, but a related court case should not force real news, such as politics and disasters, to the backseat.

In all honesty, can anyone name current events that have occurred on a local, national, or global stage that doesn’t involve some celebrity? The glitz and glamour of actors and musicians attract us more than the happenings of the real world; relatively normal celebrities fuel our fantasies and provide a welcome change from our ordinary lives. People like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have everything the average person has, plus inordinate amounts of money and a mansion.

On the other end of the spectrum, we welcome their faults and failures as well. People love to hate, and our established “heroes” provide enough fodder to fuel the fire. Celebrities’ eccentric and absurd antics give us something to mock and take pity on, essentially turning themselves into a moral example.  Count your blessings: at least we little people don’t lose total control over privacy and our mistakes aren’t broadcasted to the world.

Yet we still track every movement the rich and famous make- even the not-so- rich and famous. Look at the Kardashians, a family that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and yet have managed to captivate the entire nation. How exactly did they rise to prominence? Deceased Robert Kardashian- the infamous father of Kourtney, Kim, and Khloé- was the defense attorney for O.J. Simpson. Including their lucrative business investments, the Kardashians prove that it takes a little money and controversy to elevate anyone to superstardom.

Yes, Jackson’s death was unexpected and tragic, and yes, the Jackson family deserves answers. But I doubt that Murray will ever disappear from the public eye even after the case of The People of California vs. Conrad Murray. As for the rest of us, what will we do when the verdict has been given? Will we move on with our lives, actually caring what happens in our world instead of wrapping so much attention in one person? Or will we just scrape by, waiting for the next big tragedy to entertain us?

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