As far as I know, there has never been a point in history where mass media didn’t thrive on sensationalism. News broadcasts have always been filled with crime, murder, and trivial nonsense. We all know and poke fun at the junk that Fox and friends try to pass off as current events. Up until this point, I dismissed it all as uninteresting and irrelevant. It’s what Karl Marx called opium for the people, opium for the masses. It didn’t much bother me, because as someone who is proud of his goals and accomplishments, I figured it didn’t affect me, and I was happy to go on letting crappy news be crappy news. Then this whole Lance Armstrong business happened.
In case you weren’t aware, Lance is currently in the middle of so much heat over the issue of doping that he’s been given his own, two-part interview piece with Oprah, the great “Mmm hmmm, mhmmm…”-er of our time. This interview is part of a predictable cycle for famous people. It falls in between the “fall from grace” and the “comeback” phases. Theoretically, the famous person is supposed to go in and apologize for the horrible things they have done that have offended the public so deeply that we’re literally unable to go about our daily business without cursing the their name. Damn you Lance Armstrong! I wasted three dollars on this stupid bracelet that didn’t even get me laid for being a “sensitive guy.” Even if I did lose the thing a couple months after it stopped being cool–in like… September 2004–I still feel ripped off because I trusted you!
But even outside of the fact that the celebrity apology thing is worthless and should never have become a thing, I still don’t care about Lance Armstrong’s doping shenanigans. Lance took drugs during a time where every single rider in the Tour de France was also taking the very same drugs. Stop asking him why he did it. You know exactly why he did it: Because if he didn’t, he couldn’t compete. Not doping would have been the equivalent of him opting to ride a penny-farthing while everyone else cruised past him on their chain-driven Treks.
I’m not saying I’m stoked that everyone was taking drugs. All I’m saying is that the playing field was essentially level. Everyone took their drugs, and Lance still won. As far as I’m concerned, he earned it. It’s not like he was slacking off while everyone else was devoting their entire lives to training. He worked just as hard, and probably even harder than everyone else. And even if he didn’t, who cares?
This is sensationalism. And like I said above, it never used to bother me. But while thinking about it this time around, my mind started to wander. Lance Armstrong wasn’t the only one who did something amazing while on drugs. Mark McGwire broke the home run record. Then we found out he took performance enhancers. Why didn’t he get an Oprah interview? And then it went even deeper than that. Why does this have to pertain to drugs at all? Why aren’t we giving the Wallstreet Bankers that caused worldwide suffering and hardship for the last 6 years an interview? Why don’t they have to “come clean” and talk about how they’re trying to do better? Why don’t corporations like British Petroleum get interviews to talk about how their thriftiness caused insurmountable damage to our planet?
Why the fuck is Monsanto not in the spotlight?
We found out about all these horrible things long before we ever found out about Lance Armstrong, and yet they passed us by let they were nothing. Oprah, why aren’t you reaching out to these people? Why aren’t you reaching out to interview the people that actually matter? Is it because OWN has crap ratings?
Yes, Lance Armstrong is an inspiration, and it’s a disappointment that he lied to us, but at the end of the day, his drug taking didn’t affect anyone but himself and the other riders in that race. And what’s more: it’s a damn bicycle race. It doesn’t even matter. And that’s coming from a guy who loves to watch The Tour. Companies patenting foods in an effort to make it so that I’m not legally allowed to plant the seeds that my vegetables produce? That matters. That affects me. That pisses me off. I want to see those people forced to publicly apologize. You wanna change the world Oprah? Then stop reaching out to the leaders of the sensationalist garbage movement, and start talking to the people who’s actions are damaging the human race’s chance at a fruitful future.
So yeah, sensationalism didn’t used to bother me. But now it does, because it takes up the space and uses the resources for better programming that could actually make a difference. THAT is news.