Volume 92, Issue 4
Friday, June 5, 1998
george likes his chicken spicy


Too much girl power

The death of a celebrated comedian. A well-loved music group loses a member. Nuclear bomb tests occur between rival countries. One of these things is not like the others. Can you tell which one? 

Radio and television news shows, newspapers and magazines are all in the business of transmitting information. And just like good businesses, they need to attract customers. When delivering the day's news, a quick and easily digestible package is the only thing that will grab attention in our fast-paced world. 

In the past week, three major stories have permeated the news. Phil Hartman was shot by his wife, who then killed herself, Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell) announced she has left the Spice Girls and India and Pakistan have both detonated nuclear bombs for testing as well as in response to the other. 

Obviously, the threat of another possible cold war is more immediately important to the survival of the human race more so than the problems of the entertainment world. So why is this issue taking a back seat in media attention? 

People don't want to hear that their world may end soon. What they want is some juicy gossip to swap over coffee. As the saying goes the customer is always right. And so media will continue to give the people what they want. 

The real problem of prioritizing the news becomes even more apparent in the treatment of these two entertainment-type stories. The Spice Girls are receiving front-page treatment from major papers like the Toronto Star and London Free Press, accompanied by huge pictures of depressed and bleary-eyed eight-year-olds. The murder/suicide of Phil Hartman and his wife, however, is not a pop culture curiosity. 

Even politicians are joining in the mass mourning for the passing of The Spice Girls. Mel Lastman, mayor of Toronto, sent a letter to Ginger begging her to return. Maybe the children of the Hartman family would appreciate a letter of support as well. But of course, something like that wouldn't garner as much attention because it's not as fun. 

A re-evaluation of priorities needs to take place. Is the media merely a source of entertainment, with a few bits of bad news thrown in for measure? "Give the people what they want" may sound good The Spice Girls are certainly experts at it but is this what they "really really" want, what they "really really" need? 

Newspapers and news shows may soon get another chance to feature photo spreads of sobbing children. Only this time they'll be crying for a good reason. 

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca
Copyright © The Gazette 1998