This generation doesn’t know bullshit from truth: Crowe
RUSSELL Crowe knows better than most the blurred line between news and entertainment. “I’ve been living it for 30 years,” he tells The Punch while in the UK to film his latest blockbuster Robin Hood.
So it’s a little surprising to hear him bemoan the death of the “noble profession” of newspaper journalism, as across the United States, in particular, flag ship periodicals are closing or are being slashed to the bone.
Clearly the recession is to blame, combined perhaps with poor overall management. But Crowe believes it’s also because the reader has evolved into a cynic with an inability to discern fact from fiction due in no small way to the celebrity culture.
He’s not alone as celebrities everywhere want to call time on the unhealthy obsession with – well – them.
Crowe told The Punch he saw on-line news sites and blogs as a “natural progression” to newspapers but there was now a generation of distrust of the industry.
“If you trivialise the news decade after decade, if you turn news into entertainment, if you corrupt how people get information and corrupt that information in the first place and if you have a cynical view where you can take a piece of fluff that you know is not really true but you can bang it up because it fits nice on page 5 next to the ad of women’s lingerie. If you start thinking like that, sooner or later people are going to distrust what those sources all are,” he said.
“We’ve actually built a generation who don’t know how to discern bullshit from truth. At least I’m old enough and lucky enough to have grown up in an era where there were certain newspapers which were absolute purveyors of the truth, that has morphed and changed over time.
“But I’m not threatened by it but I’m not excited by it either because the one thing I don’t need in my life is any more trivia.”
There’s no doubt we have all become celebrity obsessed, you only have to look at the rise in sales of the gossip mags to show that.
But perhaps things are changing. Again maybe it’s due to the recession that our values are being redefined and people are being turned off the vacant vamp living in a televised group house or the boorish footballer who throws tens of millions of dollars into his wedding or even the farcical divorce where the split stars fly off to the furthest corners of the world to see who can stay in the most expensive resort.
It would have been unheard off a year ago that the public should stick up for A Current Affair but everyone is well and truly over Gordon Ramsay.
There’s still a place and a market for the celeb but we want more substance from them now. TV chat show supremo Michael Parkinson said it was the end of the line for the likes of Big Brother with that sort of news-entertainment now a big turn off.
“You only have to look at the ratings for this sort of program,” he said. Parky believes news and newspapers in particular is being reduced by triviality.
“That’s what’s happening now, that’s my objection to the so called celebrity culture both in print and television. We need a debate about it, we need to look at where we are going and why we are going there, what are we creating.”
Dr Ruth Cherrington from Warwick University in the UK analyses popular culture and said the growth of the celeb culture was matched by the growth of media mediums.
We now have uneasy voyeurism that compels us to watch someone like TV celebrity Jade Goody die; it would not have been tolerated in the past but now we make our own films on mobile phones or computer cams, we blog and are constantly curious in what others are doing.
“In the ‘70s there were far fewer television channels, obviously there wasn’t the Internet, there wasn’t interactive TV, there wasn’t interactive technology so audiences have become more involved with what’s going on so there might have been some sort of distance put between a popular figure ill and dying between their demise and the public. Standards of taste did differ slightly but society changed, technology changed and the media world changed.”
British psychologist Geoffrey Beattie did not believe the obsession would change, just the celebrity.
He said people were pushed for time and would rather have an at a distance snapshot of a celeb’s life than get to know their neighbour. It’s a modern day emotional bond.
“It says something of social life and the times in which we live,” he said.
“People on television seem awfully familiar to us ... it tells us about the degrees of isolation many have in their everyday lives. You want to get into their lives you want a 360 degree angle on their lives.”
Many believe the celebrity obsession will change but in the meantime we will name our babies after them and watch them live and watch them die and regardless of their protests, they will revel and grow in the limelight.
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