So this will be different. I’m stepping out of my box, turning over a new leaf, flipping a page…(insert other shifting statement here)…you get the picture. Instead of taking my more treaded-upon path of faith-related posts, I’m getting to everyone’s favorite: pop culture. Disclaimer: my journalistic side is going to come out really strong. You’ve been warned.
I was on TIME’s website today, reading random posts and looking at photo galleries. After being linked to the site because of my professor Jeff Maciejewski’s media ethics blog, I took the time to browse for a bit. I came across this article and couldn’t believe my eyes.
If you didn’t click on the link, I’ll cheat for you. Basically, due to the rights we were entrusted in the First Amendment of the Constitution, citizens can petition the government for the redress of grievances. As the article explains, “For example, if you think that Francis Scott Key’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ is hackneyed and unsingable and no longer fit to represent our great country, you have the right to petition the government to change the National Anthem to something more appropriate.”
Stay with me now. So what have over 4,000 people actually SIGNED THEIR NAME to support? The changing of our National Anthem to R. Kelly’s 2003 hit single ‘Ignition (Remix).’ Yep, I’m serious (unfortunately). The text of the proposal is actually quite hilarious, but still ridiculous. Here’s a sneak peek:
We, the undersigned, would like the Obama administration to recognize the need for a new national anthem, one that even a decade after its creation, is still hot and fresh out the kitchen. America has changed since Francis Scott Key penned our current anthem in 1814. Since then, we have realized that after the show, it’s the afterparty, and that after the party, it’s the hotel lobby, and — perhaps most importantly — that ’round about four, you’ve got to clear the lobby, at which point it’s strongly recommended that you take it to the room and freak somebody. President Obama: we ask you to recognize the evolution of this beautiful country and give us an anthem that better suits the glorious nation we have become.
Prime, right? And we wonder why other countries don’t take us seriously…
Anyways, as TIME reports, “this cause only needs 95,329 more signatures to meet the goal of 100,000 by April 2. At that point, the White House will have to respond, just as it had to respond to the petition to begin construction of a Death Star by 2016. So head to Whitehouse.gov now if you want to support the campaign to ensure the nation bumps and grinds before all sporting events and swearings-in — or argue that Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’ would make an even better National Anthem.”
So here’s my deal. Yes, I’m fully entertained by this. I laughed when I saw it, as I’m sure many of you have as well. But there are some biiiiiig issues that come as a result of this. As the article says, if the petition reaches 100k signatures (which it inevitably will), the White House actually has to do something about this. Yes, the Commander in Chief of the most powerful (I know, that’s debatable) country in the world is going to have to take time out of his day to address this petition.
It’s sad to me that our political activism is at a point where petitioning to have R.Kelly represent us to the world is what gets people involved. How ridiculous is it that people are actually taking concrete action to petition the President of the United States to do something about something so incredibly ludicrous?
According to TIME’s numbers, there have been about 4,700 Americans who have believed this to be worthy enough to attach their signature to. Obviously, this means there are about 4,700 Americans who need a good, productive hobby. Yet what worries me more is that this is considered important news. This type of a thing is on TIME’s website – one of the most respected news gatherers and information sharers in our society. There is a duty to share the news that the public demands, and frankly, it worries me that this is the kind of crap we are demanding!
What does it say about us as a country if this is our first priority – and it is actually something we are taking our time to fight for. Whether it is a joke or not, we actually have the time to do this? I hate to be on a world-problems soapbox, but really?! There are children starving, people killing, wars raging, nations breaking, diseases ravaging…and this is what we want to hear about? Not that all the bad news is what we want to hear about either. But there are heroes being made doing simple, extraordinary deeds, small towns making big differences, survival stories that could inspire millions, and thousands of other wonderful things that could be shared. Yet our airwaves are clogged with useless things like petitions such as this one.
Unfortunately, I think it says a significant amount about us as a country and as a people – where our priorities lie, what matters to us, what we view as worthy of our attention, and so on. This petition is just one example out of a plethora of options that I could have gone after – unfortunately crap news is everywhere. No wonder people are turning towards being their own investigative journalists and seeking out real human-interest stories! I don’t blame them.
I’ll be the nostalgic one, but I miss the days where I would come home from random extra-curricular activities at about 6pm. Upon opening the door to my house, I’d hear Mom in the kitchen working on dinner, and the local news would be filling the air of our family room. Yet when 6:30 rolled around and we heard the familiar jingle and then Tom Brokaw’s rich voice signaling the start of another NBC Nightly News, we would watch REAL stories, GOOD reporting, and QUALITY journalism. I miss those days. We are lucky to have the technological advances that we do (allowing for 24-hour news cycles), but sometimes, I think that when news organizations were only given an hour to fill, the selection of what was important was, to put it simply, more important!
I’m guessing you all have had moments where you couldn’t believe that the news report you were reading or hearing about was actually making it – and if you can’t think of one, let me give you a hint: ANYTHING about the Kardashians. What do you think about all of this? Are we a lost generation who only focuses on news that fills our social appetite? Or is this just the organic evolution of news?