Monday, March 14, 2011

Big in Japan.

I definitely rely on the internet for all manner of both news and distraction from what could be perceived as more worthwhile endeavors, tasks, or ahem - job duties. The devastation in Japan following the earthquake, tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear site explosions with threat of meltdown pending are omni-present on the internet, often in mind-blowing visual form as people captured water destroying a city on camera. What I cannot seem to wrap my head around is the seeming lack of distinction made between horrific news in the wake of a natural disaster and the same old same old celebrity b.s. and mindless internet filler that is usually on the top of major homepages. I guess I'm also finding myself having trouble confronting the reality that people are finding corpses wash ashore in Japan. Others are living in school gyms with no access to heat and running water. Others have been wiped off the face of the earth like they were never there. I know that's terrible, and this is not a "favorite things" entry, thematically, but it is hard to reckon with the seeming inability to reckon with something just happening like that. Like, that is reality. That is fact. There is now a pre/post 2011 earthquake distinction for Japan. And I am still thinking about the Real Housewives of Orange County and the Sister Wives of Utah and Bethanny in New York City and how they all might fare in feminist critique - but still watching! Yes, still watching. This is after thinking about whether or not I should buy pretzels and whether or not I should take netflix up on their free trial and whether or not I should consider a shirt I've worn 4 times sufficiently dirty to qualify for washing yet.

And it's not just me, which should be comforting, but is not. I think it's the opposite. The fact that there isn't a "HOLY SHIT" section of every media outlet prior to the "Usual Piffle" section, with distinctions of a similar grade, makes a curious study in our ability to process terrible news and, because it's not directly impacting us in the next 10 minutes, move right along to the next thing. As an example, i give you real Yahoo!.com headlines:
1. Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Catastrophe
2. Ways to Stop Static Cling
3. The Unhealthiest Energy Drinks
4. Japanese Village Vanishes

These stories do not have the same weight. They are not of the same importance. Static cling is probably not going to contain nuclear fallout for a generation of citizens, except fashion fallout- am'i right ladies? But they have the same billing! Maybe it's because considering the powerlessness of others in the face of natural disaster - really giving it some thought and brain space - is too terrifying because it highlights our own helplessness and vulnerability? Or maybe it's the feeling we can't help or change things? But it somehow seems amazing to me that the Kardashian news cycle continues, along with Bieber, Lohan, Gaga, as if really not that much new happened. Maybe this calmed Charlie Sheen's spotlight for 3 minutes, but I think I would feel better if - ok, not if there were public panic, but maybe some sort of pop culturally accepted O.M.G. moment. Ok no, that would be terrible too, and invariably lead to pandering.

I dunno. Obviously this is not a situation with a feel good ending and an easy fix. It's just tricky to evaluate how media examines and reacts to Japan, and, in turn, how I do the same. And while I'm mad at media avoidance, I actually also avoid.

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