After witnessing Kanye West's not-so-eloquent and not-so-persuasive argument during a hurricane relief fundraiser that George Bush hates black people, and after pulling out my bleeding eyeballs while Richard Simmons blubbered all over his pink sequin shirt while "reuniting" with his brother (who evidently has not sweated to the oldies since the early '90s) on Entertainment Tonight, the question must be asked: Has Hurricane Katrina jumped the shark?
It's an unhidden fact that the media - well, actually pretty much just television media - swarms around disasters of mass inhumanity. As much as people hate the violence and horrible events that others are forced through, we can't turn our eyes away. We crave it.
Television media long ago realized this fact, and now has perfected packaging, marketing, and selling the human drama to millions of viewers. The "idiot box," as it's sometimes so lovingly called, has turned into a conduit for transactions between addicts and dealers. Fox, CNN, MSNBC, all of the major networks, push their stories on the viewers, who consume it until every last drop of sentimentality is bled out. And then? Well, the swarms move on to the next tsunami; the next missing beautiful pregnant white woman; the next high-speed car chase; the next celebrity courtroom drama.
Am I cynical? I would argue that it is not I who is cynical, but this whole process that is cynical. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is an event of gigantic proportions, the repercussions of which will be felt for years to come and at multiple layers of our society. Without a doubt it deserves all of the attention that it receives. But rather than focusing on the gruesome eye candy - such as Richard Simmons in short shorts going into manufactured hysterics - the focus should instead be on the sobering facts.