Tragedy as Entertainment

by Frank  Rega

This article appears in the Dec. 31, 2012 issue of The Remnant


     It has been about five years since I cancelled my cable television provider. It was some time before the 2008 elections, and one of the more pleasant consequences of the event is that the face of a certain pro-abortion U.S. President has never appeared in my living room. As I write this in December of 2012, the tragic massacre of young school children in Connecticut has been the primary news event for the past few days. I became aware of it from the Internet rather than the radio, although the latter is occasionally used in our household. Drudge had about a dozen links to stories, but my main source of information was Fox News online. In no more than 15 minutes of reading, most of the relevant facts were communicated.

     During each day I spend a few minutes to check on the latest developments on this and other news. We are talking in terms of minutes in front of the computer. On the other hand, if I still had TV, it would have been hour upon hour, glued to the various news channels to anxiously absorb both the news and the visual input of that tragic event. There would be constant updates, important bulletins, and engrossed newscasters speculating and spewing out reports on the story from every possible angle.

     For the media, the only good news is bad news.

     The news must be presented in a way that would be compelling and riveting enough to keep our eyes on the tube during the commercial breaks. The hard news inevitably gives way to agenda-based commentaries and politically correct social engineering propaganda, designed to promote the welfare state mentality of the leftist movement. Further, how much of what is presented as newsreel footage is real, and how much is staged? There have been countless hours of television viewing that I have missed out on these past few days – missed out on, but neither missed nor needed.

     But if the core of the news can be absorbed in a few minutes of online reading, why is one motivated to spend hours watching all the developments of the latest tragedy? What is it that keeps one attuned to the set? The hard truth is that we are being entertained. It is entertainment. Once the initial essence of the news is communicated, the job of the television talkers is to keep us entertained and amused enough to keep watching. And we all know why – to sell "product." Their jobs and salaries all depend on advertising revenue. Yes, face it, the tragedies of others’ lives, have become our entertainment!

     When I was still watching TV, one of my favorites was the O’Reilly Factor. Oh that was only 30 minutes. Well, the show is over, but wait, it’s just a few more minutes to flip the channels, maybe another interesting show of only half an hour is on. Let me just catch a few minutes of that football game. How many wasted precious minutes and hours!

     Canceling your TV provider does not mean burying ones' head in the sand. Quite the contrary. Yes, I still have a television, but it is only used for watching selected videos and DVDs. Among many gems, I was fortunate to discover the British Masterpiece Theatre and BBC productions of the works of Jane Austen, such as Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma. This has led to my reading the annotated versions of her works, the first novels I have read in many years. The time freed up from TV watching allows for this reading, and also for fifteen decades of the traditional Rosary daily, in addition to my usual spiritual reading and writing. EWTN? It’s streamed online.

     TV news is arguably the worst offender, in spite of the moral depravity of so many regularly scheduled shows. The next time you realize that you just can’t wait to see the TV news pictures of damage from the latest hurricane, or car chase, or fire or riot or tsunami, ask yourself if these tragedies involving others have become your entertainment. If the answer is yes, you know what you should do.



 Controversial, bold and thought-provoking, the above book is available in print or Kindle format.



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Frank Rega is the author of:  Padre Pio and America,
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims,

The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador
  Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - Journeys in the Divine Will 
vols. 1 and 2
Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - volume 3 in preparation
 The Truth about Padre Pio's Stigmata and Other Wonders of the Saint
Vatican II, Evolution, and Medjugorje: Hubris, Heresy, and Mystery

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