Disciple of Thecla
8/20/13 at 07:39 AM 0 Comments

The Banality of Media Gossip

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Typically, I do not pay much attention to entertainment gossip, because it is after all senseless and banal gossip. I have better things to do than to pry into someone's personal life. During one of my breaks, I discovered that the banality of gossip has reached new levels that I never imagined. The beard and hairstyle are not newsworthy, but the gossip's overreaction and baseless conclusion is very amusing. While at work, I went into the breakroom for my fifteen minute break. As usual, the television was playing, and this time, yep, the entertainment celebrity gossip. Angus T. Jones made the headlines again, this time for a growing beard and a new hair style. The gossipy host announced, "Angus T. Jones," child star of Two and a Half Men is having a nervous breakdown.
And that's it? Gossipers presume the young man is having a nervous breakdown on account of a beard and a different hair style?
The news gossiper questioned whether the young man is having a nervous breakdown and showed the new appearance to his pastor Christopher Hudson. Hudson said, "it looks like he's trying something new." And that was it.

Two of my co-workers had been watching the gossip news longer than I have, so I ask them, "is that it? they think he's having a nervous breakdown because of his new beard and hairstyle?" The co-workers replied, "yeah." Here, the silly amusement is not in the target of the gossip; the amusement is in the banality and stupidity of the gossipers themselves.
When I returned home, I did a very quick search online. There are two views about his appearance. One view considers it a symptom of a nervous breakdown, and the other acknowledges that the young man is simply trying something new.

Sporting a full beard, glasses and disheveled hair, the 19-year-old didn't exactly resemble the youngster that we've come to know and love on his hit TV show.
By the looks of it, Jones is taking full advantage of the fact that he will no longer appear regularly on the upcoming season of the series.

The only thing mentioned about him is that he has decided to change his hairstyle and to grow a beard. Nothing wrong with that. No other "evidence" was mentioned. If there was anything more serious, it was never cited. Some anonymous friends were cited about him being depressed or having a breakdown, but they never listed any evidence for their conclusion except his beard and hairstyle. There is nothing inherently wrong with changes in appearance that would signal a breakdown, but the beard and hairstyle were the only evidences listed.
A change in appearance can be a way to embrace changes in a person's life. When I graduated high school, I decided to change my hairstyle as a way of embracing my graduation. I had talked with my mom about it during my Junior year, so she helped me out with it. I liked it so much that I've kept it and improved upon it. This new hairstyle is more convenient and easier for me to take care of, especially with my busy life. After I left my first job, I decided to paint my fingernails simply because painted nails were not allowed at the job. The day before an interview for another job, I needed to remove the nail polish; that took an hour to remove, literally, because I kept painting over the old paint whenever I saw it chipping off. No more nail polish for me.
Now, this would be a stressful time naturally in his life. People at his age suddenly have all this freedom and independence. With those come responsibilities. And people his age need to determine how they are going to live out the remainder of their lives and what to do with their lives. These important decisions bring out stress. Earlier this past Spring, I experienced similar stress myself after I completed a five-year project; all of a sudden, there was nothing definite for me to do, and I needed to figure out what to do next with my life. Whatever I decided would probably take at least another five years. This decision required some thought and analysis of my options, but it did give me stress while I figured it out. There is nothing wrong with stress. Stress is normal and natural. All that matters is how a person copes with it.
Stress is NOT a nervous breakdown, and whoever confuses stress with a breakdown seriously needs to get a grip on reality. Peer pressure and false accusations can cause major problems in and of themselves for a person. The wrong friends can lead to a person's demise. The right friends can keep a person healthy on track.
Now, I hope that Angus T. Jones remains faithful to Christ. Most college campuses, I think, have Christian organizations and those can be really good. I'm currently attending a Methodist church that also has connections with the local college organization. A lot of college students attend this Methodist church. The groups that I had attended while a student were superficial, but if I had attended this Methodist college group, then I might have become a Christian much sooner. So, I hope he finds a good Christian group at college full of like-minded individuals who can encourage him and provide positive support.
While he remains on television or a source of entertainment news, I also suggest that he find actors and artists who share the Christian faith. These people would be most familiar with the media, the entertainment industry, and following Christ. As a result, these people would be the most experienced to advise him and to mentor him.
The entertainment gossiper's reaction to his beard/hairstyle proves quite simply how watching the destruction of individual people has become a source of entertainment for a mass audience. The entertainment news insisted that Angus T. Jones is having a mental breakdown all on account of his hair and beard. A breakdown would be big entertainment news, but a beard and hairstyle is all they have to cite. In the end this presumption of a breakdown simply becomes wishful thinking and a longing desire for the gossipers to see what they want to see. Self-destruction has become entertainment in and of itself. Some individuals become celebrities just because an audience enjoys watching those individuals destroy and ruin their own lives.
And what does this say about our culture when entertainment thrives on self-destruction and personal ruin of real people?
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