Pop culture obsession distracts from real issues


While sitting in a meeting last week, I checked my Facebook page only to find something peculiar: My news feed was filled with the exact same status, "Kanye West is an asshole." My first reaction was obviously to find out what he could possibly have said or done to gain so much attention — rappers are well known for their dramatic escapades. But after thinking for a moment, I realized … who cares? This is the man who said, "I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade." Nevermind his ignorance — a generation is longer than a decade — I must concur with Stephen Colbert that Kanye is barely the voice of his own soundtrack! He makes the guy who stands outside the Rutgers Student Center screaming about judgment seem reasonable. Regardless, Kanye is simply the pawn of a more disturbing issue: entertainment culture. Since the dawn of civilization mankind revered its leaders first and foremost; yet, if I may use an analogy, many members of our society would rather worship our jugglers than our kings. For instance, if I asked you who played the Joker in the last "Batman" movie, would you know? Of course; Heath Ledger's performance was brilliant! But how many of us know the name of our Congressman, his vote record or his policy platforms? Furthermore, how many watched the Emmys compared to President Barack Obama's recent health care speech? Our priorities seem quite clear. This unquenchable thirst for entertainment transcends into our very essence of being. Let's take football for example — a touchy subject, I know. Many readers can talk ad nauseam about their favorite teams and even quote statistics. Sometimes team preference can even deteriorate into tenuous relationships, especially after a few drinks. Yet I see more passion for the Scarlet Knights on a daily basis than I have ever seen for stopping the genocide in Darfur. Do you know where Darfur is? America has become saturated with materialistic postmodernism, and this has both individual and societal implications. Individually we have become miserable existentialists. Life always seems to be a competition in which we can never win enough, especially in a world where you don't know your own meaning and thus create one out of thin air or simply never take time to care. Moreover, as a society we have become ignorant. Rather than taking a few minutes out of each day to become socially aware, we instead pleasure and drink ourselves into oblivion. Furthermore, both the government and business elites cash checks daily thanks to our ignorance. Rather than actually talk about the issues, politicians treat us like children by feeding us pithy one-liners. Rather than adhering to honest business practices, corporations thrive on what we don't know in order to get rich.There are those of you who have chosen personal happiness as your philosophy of life. While I disagree with your priorities, I can at least admire your consistency. However, this article is directed to those who are not yet willing to admit such a self-centered lifestyle but whose priorities are clearly in sync with the concept. My only advice: Personally, I am not satisfied with a culture that believes simply going to class or work and then drinking over the weekend with the possibility of getting laid is an acceptable, let alone praiseworthy, lifestyle. There is more to life than instant gratification. Socrates' timeless adage is true: The unexamined life is truly not worth living. The next time you're walking to a house party, ask yourself this radical question: Why? The next time Britney Spears is on TV for a new publicity stunt, I encourage you to turn it off. Where are the revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr.'s of our generation? Who is today's Einstein? These are the men and women we should model our lives after, people who dedicate themselves to excellence and improving humanity. If your role model is an entertainer then I truly feel sorry for your low self-worth. Entertainers deserve neither your adoration nor attention. Though I may not know you, I nonetheless believe you have far more potential.Some may read this article and have feelings of both agreement and contempt. Please forgive my preachiness; I write this article not for the sake of judgment but for collective action. I am just as guilty as the next. I too enjoy going out and can never get enough of Jon Stewart. I am not asking you to forego all entertainment; as such an attempt would be preposterous. Instead, I only ask that you think for yourselves and pursue a purpose that is loftier than perpetual entertainment. All of us need to relax sometimes, but never allow your indulgence of entertainment to exceed the amount of time you put toward meaningful endeavors. Hundreds of millions of people around the world live on less than $1 per day; we have a lot of work to do. Lonnie Affrime is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science. He is the president of the University's Roosevelt Institute. He welcomes feedback at laffrime@eden.rutgers.edu. 

 


Lonnie Affrime

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