Anchorman 2 was recently released, and it was hilarious and everything I expected. The movie was the comedic masterpiece everyone thought it would be, but it was also something different. Deep down, Anchorman 2 actually had a lesson that applies more to modern day then the '80s. That lesson was that news had been changed to be more fun instead of important, and I have noticed it as well. I have seen very clearly that the news is not meant to inform people about issues, but to give stories that distract people from the real problems.
An example to prove my point: One night, I decided to watch the "news" with my mom, just to see what is going on that is important. The news starts with coverage of the train that was derailed four days earlier in NYC, and don't get me wrong it was terrible, but do we need days worth of coverage on an issue that we all know about already? The station then continued with their "Made in America" publicity scheme to actually get more manufacturing in America, but also to stamp the stations name on a campaign that people can't not like. The "news" then moves on to tracking the snowstorm in the Northwest that is just making the area cold and being covered in snow. The part that finally broke me was when the "news" then talked about how much you will probably spend this year on Christmas presents.
As I watched this atrocity that was being called the news, I thought about all of the international and even American issues that got little to no coverage. The examples are innumerable. Let's start more at home with the minimum wage strike. McDonald's workers in about 60 cities across the U.S. are on strike to raise minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. These are real Americans who are barely living, and need more money, but in terms of importance how much we'll spend on Christmas present usurps their importance. Another great example is how the Ukrainian people and even government are demanding that their prime minister step down, and he is strongly refusing. This protest didn't start just yesterday either; it has been going on for about two weeks at this point. Even more surprising is that a statue of Lenin was toppled yesterday during a protest, and the only way I found out about it was when I was doing research for this blog.
Being fed up with American news, I decided that we should turn on BBC where they would most definitely be more focused on world issues. While BBC was much better about talking about pressing issues internationally, but they, like the rest of the world, for some reason avoided the issue of Africa and the Congo more specifically. A large majority of Africa has no stable government or government at all. Africa has been the melting pot of warlords, killers and drug dealers. I believe that one country in particular deserves a little more help than the others. I am talking about the Democratic Republic of the Congo of course.
Quick history lesson: The Congo was first given to King Leopold II of Belgium back in 1877 because it was the only piece of land that no other country wanted at the Conference of Berlin, where Africa was divided among the major European nations. King Leopold II used the Congolese people as his very own slave workforce to gather natural rubber, ivory, crops, and various minerals like gold, and did so with an iron fist. His men killed nearly 10,000,000 Congolese men, women, and children for punishment or to pass the time. In the amount of time King Leopold II owned the Congo, he amassed about $1,000,000,000 in modern day American dollars. In 1908 Belgium bought the Congo from King Leopold II and made it a Belgium colony. The Congolese were still used for the profit of the overruling nation, but not quite with as much death and threats.
Now, the question of, "what does this have to do with the news?" comes up. While King Leopold II's men were butchering Congolese for money, the world had gotten wind of it by authors going to the Congo and returning with horrifying tales. The book The Heart of Darkness was about an ivory transporter who witnessed all of the terrible events occurring to the Congolese people. My point being that throughout history, the news has not always reported issues that it should have. While terrible and unforgivable, people back in the late 1800s and early 1900s didn't have the type of communication that we have now, making it somewhat excusable for them to not act and help the Congo.
Here's what shocked me: These horrible events such as rape, murder, use of child soldiers and every other inhuman action imaginable is still happening in the Congo today. I'm sure everyone remembers KONY 2012, the film about the warlord Joseph Kony who ended up running to the Congo after he had so much attention brought to him. To this day he is still at large, and no government, not even the Congolese government, has made a large effort to find Kony and all of the other warlords whose men enter the Congo under the disguise as government military, and steal people's belongings, women, and children. Keep in mind, the way these warlords make the children stay with them isn't only by killing their parents, they actually get the children addicted to hard drugs such as cocaine to create a dependency. How are we, as the "modern" world not helping the Congo? We should be helping the Congo, and Africa in general, set up more stable and lasting governments so that they can deal with their issues and not have to let people suffer. But honestly, if no powerful nation or country steps forward to help the Congo, it wouldn't surprise me, because it wouldn't be the first time the more advanced countries ignored human rights violations.
There was one genocide where no one, not the UN, not a single individual country, and not even a news station talked about action to help. I am talking about the Rwandan genocide, which only happened about 19 years ago! The world stood by while the Rwandan government killed an estimated 800,000-1,000,000 Tutsis. These were innocent men, women and children whose only crime was being Tutsi. Today everyone says they wished they had done something back then to prevent this horrific event, but those words are useless. News stations, whose job it is to talk about the real issues in the world barely reported on the subject.
I believe it's time to start using the news as it was initially intended: a way for average people to learn about what is happening that is actually important in their country and around the world. There shouldn't be a news station that has to specialize in world news; every news station should discuss international events. News stations shouldn't need to worry about who thinks what about them, they should tell their viewers what is going on. Personally, I think hearing more about how Ukraine overthrowing their prime minster will affect the rest of the world is far more important than knowing all of the old movies that a dead actor played in. I strongly believe what Ron Burgundy says in Anchorman 2, which is that "The news exists to the common person what the powerful are up to."