Getting our priorities right

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Watching some of the so-called "news" shows that air every morning leads us to wonder where American priorities are - and where they should be. On Friday morning, about 15 minutes of airtime was dedicated to the breakup of "Bennifer."

That's Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, for those readers who have been living in a cave - or watching real news - for the last year.

More and more, the time and space dedicated to news is being consumed by America's fascination with the rich and infamous. Newspapers are just as guilty of this, since we, too, compete for public attention, and public attention seems to be focused more on Hollywood than Goat Hill or Foggy Bottom.

For the next few critical weeks, instead of reading in-depth analyses of the voting records and political platforms of our presidential candidates, America will be addicted to Celebrity Court, watching Martha Stewart, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, etc. and ad nauseam. We seem to care more about Britney Spears' pseudo-marriage than the shaky ground of Mideast policy, and yet, those unglamorous diplomats and campaign workers will affect our lives to a far greater degree than Brittney could ever hope to.

There is a time and place for the fun stuff. The worse things get, the more we need the escapism provided by celebrities, this vicarious glamour. Hollywood's Golden Age was one of the nation's worst times in its history - the Great Depression. But escapism is supposed to be a temporary respite - not a permanent address.

January is always a month for resolutions - we make vows to improve our diets, our exercise program, our health. Add another resolution - improve your education, exercise your brain, and spend at least 15 minutes a day learning about your candidates, your country, and your life outside of Tinsel Town.