Breaking news: why do we care so much about celebrities?

Pictured: Kim Kardashian is a celebrity world-wide (Eva Rinaldi via flickr)

By Sarah Harris & Abby Wilson

Since the infamous 1994 OJ Simpson trail, involving the late Robert Kardashian, the family has consumed the media with their stories. The most intimate details of their lives are constantly available to the public, therefore it didn’t come as a surprise as almost instantly after Kim Kardashian West had over $10 million worth of jewellery stolen from her, that the media outlets were promptly aware of it. The full details of the incident are still yet to be disclosed, however we do know that a group of up to five men, who were said to be impersonating police officers, held Mrs West at gunpoint. A spokesperson for the TV star said Kim was “badly shaken but physically unharmed”.

From the moment the news broke, it created controversy all over social media. Twitter and Facebook users are torn as to whether or not they should feel sympathetic towards Kim. Obviously, $10 million is a lot of money, that can’t be argued against. It’s more money than the majority of ordinary people will make in a lifetime. But Mrs Kardashian West has a net worth of $150 million and earns up to $50 million a year. If Kim could afford to pay $15,000 per night to stay in that luxury residence and if she can afford to fly out of Paris via private jet, surely being stripped of $10 million can’t be that much of a crisis for her?

However does this mean she doesn’t deserve to be felt sorry for? Perhaps if she wasn’t as well known as she is, or perhaps if it was a more widely appreciated celebrity, such as Britain’s beloved Emma Watson, the media response would have been kinder. It is important to remember that although Kim was unharmed, the event will have still been traumatizing for her, as it would have been for her family and loved ones. Amist all the scandal, it is easy to forget that Kim is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife and most importantly a human and although we do not yet know the extent to which the scenario will impact her and her family, no human should have to go through such trauma.

That said, many social media users were outraged that the story rapidly became ‘breaking news’ worldwide, almost instantly. Yes, Kim Kardashian is a somewhat iconic figure in todays world, however did it really need to be classified as ‘breaking news’ when at the same time around the world, a hurricane was about to hit Haiti and Russia was sending missiles, targeting the lives on innocent families in Syria? The same questions were raised during the announcement of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce. The news of the separation supposedly ‘ruined’ the lives of people all across the world. #Brangelina flooded Twitter and it was difficult to log on to any social media site and not see endless discussions about the split. Yes, it is sad. But why do we care? We have never met the couple, but it still causes millions to meltdown. We’re investing so much of our time and emotions into complete strangers.

The fact that we live in such a celebrity orientated society which makes other more important news stories seem like less of a big deal in perspective is concerning. In today’s world, there are such disastrous things happening, and most of us don’t even bat an eyelid. Like in Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo’s largest hospital was ‘destroyed’ by Syrian government troops, at exactly the same time as Kim was robbed. Seven people were murdered and more people still remain trapped under the rubble. Why did this not make news headlines? People have died. But instead we are all concerned only about Kim Kardashian and her stolen jewellery?

We have been brainwashed into believing that celebrity news is more important than serious issues, that have worldwide implications, such as the refugee crisis and the Syrian war. We are more interested in hearing about what our favourite celebs are up to than hearing about all the children dying in Hasaka. People know what Gigi Hadid had for her lunch but they don’t know about the White House petition to declare Pakistan “a state sponsor of terrorism”. Why are people fascinated by celebrities? Perhaps because we cannot face the real truths. We are scared. Celebrity news is much easier to digest than news about war and rape and the death of children.

Celebrity obsession is everywhere. Our brains are hardwired to tune into gossip which complements our fascination in the cult of the celebrity. If we know about Brad and Angelina’s split, we can tell our friends, making us feel involved and socially accepted. We understand that sharing the news of the horrors of Syrian warfare is not desirable dinnertime conversation.

The media tells us that Kim Kardashian’s stolen jewellery is more serious than the war in Syria. There are countless events that should be world news, and the number one trend on Twitter, but instead we are tweeting #WeLoveYouKim rather than #PrayForSyria.

We need a better balance between the serious and the trivial. There are many problems that need solving. We are too afraid to own up to this and to take on this responsibility.

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