I think I must be the only person in America who hasn't seen anything Lindsay Lohan is in (at least that I remember) , hasn't seen her do an interview, hasn't seen her on TV and has no idea why she is in jail.
I do however, know that she is in jail through some sort of osmotic process of living in a culture obsessed with celebrities and everything they do. And this upsets me greatly.
I deliberately ignore celebrity news because I have absolutely zero interest in whether Jenifer Aniston wore a red dress to piss off Angelina Jolie at an awards ceremony or Paris Hilton has done another sex tape with a new douchebag etc. Celebrity news does two things: Distracts us from real news that matters, and helps sell us garbage that we don't need. I buy enough useless junk as it is, and don't need to know what Brad Pitt wears to the gym so I feel pressure to buy that too. I've recently stopped watching television, and feel infinitely smarter having canceled my cable bill (and quite a bit richer too).
Which brings me back to Miss Lohan.
The fact that I know anything about this reportedly mildly talented actress who is only really famous for being an utter cow (I've heard some real horror stories from friends of mine who have met her) has started to really bug me given I have tried my very hardest to not hear about people like her.
I have to search pretty hard to find out about issues that have any type of meaningful effect on people's lives (like trade agreements that will screw working people, the details of financial reform, environmental legislation for mountain top mining etc) yet I don't have to do anything to find out that Linsay Lohan is in jail. And if I'm deliberately ignoring people like Lohan, what does that say for people who don't really think too much about the news they are consuming? A 14 year old girl in America would grow up thinking that a C list celebrity going to prison actually constituted something serious, that the lives of the mega rich and famous were of concern to society.
Our obsession with everything celebrity has stopped us being able to focus on issues that matter and morphed us into drama addicts and voyeurs. Everyone has an opinion on LeBron James's decision to switch basketball teams, but no one really has any idea whether the new health care legislation will actually help regular people (it will).
The end result is highly manipulated public trained to ignore issues that matter and obsess about issues that don't. And I'm starting to believe this is intentional -- that the mass media system is geared towards isolating people and turning them into mindless consumers. If people started to catch on to the rigged political system that benefits the rich and goes to war to make money, there would be a chance of mass movements to stop it. But our politicians know that if our attention is focused on people like Lindsay Lohan, they can basically get away with murder. So the giant conglomerates are allowed to pump our minds full of meaningless garbage and are never held to account.
The only way to stop it is to literally turn off the TV and stop buying the magazines. Otherwise we'll sleep walk into another illegal war while the media camps out infront of Lindsay Lohan's lawn to find out whether she bought Gucci shoes or Prada.
Ben Cohen is the Editor of TheDailyBanter.com