local_cafe Media: The Almighty God Machine

by Jeremy Worsham

Published in Issue No. 9 ~ October, 1997

Reading the paper lately has become somewhat analogous to walking through a mine field of bullshit. Anyone who has had a television, radio or newspaper at hand in the last few weeks has seen footage of the extrication of lady Diana’s car from the tunnel in Paris. They have also seen the death of a living saint, Mother Teresa. Teresa’s climb to sainthood within the Catholic Church will take approximately fifty years to become realized. Diana’s climb to this lofty height, however, happened overnight. Mother Teresa did more for the sick and the poor than Diana ever dreamed of doing. The public’s misplacement of values shows the star-struck blindness of a people who have come to worship the media as opposed to a true god.

Before her death — indeed on the very night of her death — tabloids were constantly hounding Diana trying to get “the sleeze” on her. They constantly insinuated promiscuity and a spoiled lifestyle were the key traits of the ex-princess of Wales, and the public bought the stories offered by the sleeze Nazis. It therefore seemed ironic that the very entity that spent years disgracing Diana would turn around and deify her after her death. This turnabout is not simply a case of guilt because of media paparazzi being involved with her death. This same pattern can be seen with regards to JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis; the list goes on. Guilt, perhaps, was a factor in as far as feeling sorry for having hunted Diana all her life. It’s also possible that the media felt some guilt about printing so many unfounded rumors just to make a quick buck. Or maybe the media felt it owed her something for all the money she helped it make. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Diana went from the slut who was seen with a different man every month to the saint who helped little orphan children and land mine victims.

Taking a look at Mother Teresa, on the other hand, gives us a portrait of a true saint. Here is a woman who lived poor, cared for AIDS patients, cared for the sick and fed the hungry. She not only helped the poor but she lived poor and led by example. The red tape in the way of canonizing Teresa is unbelievable and will take quite possibly fifty years or so (this is of course unless the church feels pressured by the media attention a decision of this magnitude may attract). This woman of far greater works got only a commercial when compared to the Diana Super Bowl funeral extravaganza.

Anyone who knows history can see what will happen next. The public will be bombarded with Diana “goods.” Diana the movie, Diana the t-shirt or, as performed at her funeral, Diana the song. Monuments will be erected for her, hospitals will be named after her, and people will make pilgrimages to touch the statue and kiss its feet and pray. Later on, of course, there will be Diana sightings proclaiming — like Elvis — that she is still alive. With as much crap as stars have to put up with, faking ones death doesn’t seem too far from reality.

We as humans feel some inborn need to deify and emulate people. We fail to look within ourselves for true leadership and happiness. Stars are people just like us. We become angry when they mess up and mourn for them when we realize their mortality. Meanwhile, real heroes go unnoticed because they don’t wear designer clothes and live in multi-million dollar homes.

There is something seriously wrong with a society that respects media as the almighty-god-machine. Media tells us what to eat, think, watch, listen to, drink, and respect. The television is the golden calf reinvented, and we are a people without a Moses to set us straight.

It is likely that Diana will evolve into something in death that she was never in life. This tends to happen to all superstars after death. JFK, for instance, went from a mediocre President at best, to the savior of the American people. It is likely that Diana will take up this same role for England. Mother Teresa, on the other hand, will probably become a footnote in history books which people will skip over.

Hopefully this prediction is wrong. Hopefully people will wake up and realize the hypnotic effect the media has over them. Maybe they will start a revolution with people smashing TVs and stereo equipment. Maybe people will start reading again and start thinking for themselves. Then again, the media will never order us to do anything as drastic as that.

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Jeremy Worsham attends college in southern Texas. His experiences in the state universities, there, have convinced him that academia is in serious trouble in this country.