Posted by: joshjasper | March 27, 2010

Publicized Pain

Presenting at the Marine Corps Summit yesterday in New Orleans was an incredible experience.  The morning was spent presenting the Mentors in Violence Prevention program to the Marine Corps.  The afternoon training was specifically for Navy personnel.  The hope is that the Marines and sailors trained will take the knowledge gained back to their installations and advocate that the program be instituted throughout their respective locations.

This was my first trip to New Orleans.  Unfortunately, I checked into my hotel just after midnight the night before the presentation and was on an airplane heading back to Iowa immediately after the conference.  I was hoping to learn more about the city, walk through the French Quarter, and hear some great music.  Nevertheless, I learned a great deal from the inside of the airplane during my return flight.  To begin, I was placed in business class on the way home.  This was a first for me, and hopefully not the last.  I couldn’t get over the size of the seat!  This is the first time sitting in a plane in which I didn’t feel like I was Sasquatch jammed into a seat that was seemingly made for Santa’s elves. 

After I had settled into my seat, got my complimentary drink, and was offered a warm towel (didn’t have a clue why only a select few in the plane needed that), I reached for what I thought was going to be the SkyMall magazine.  You know, the magazine that sells things you never see in stores.  (spy cameras, tie racks, and way too many accessories for your phone)  To my surprise though, I found this week’s publications of US Weekly and In Touch in place of SkyMall.  Both magazines have Sandra Bullock on the cover.  For anyone that cares, her husband Jesse James recently admitted to cheating on her. 

Worry not, I am not going to use this experience as yet another example in which women are objectified in the media.  All of that was there of course, but my focus was on something else.  I noticed that both magazines have sections titled “Fashion Police,”  “Citizen’s Arrest,” or “Last Laughs.”  It is within these sections that celebrities are criticized for what they are wearing, who they are with, what they are eating, etc., etc. 

There is one clear message that the editors are pushing down the throats of subscribers of these magazines.  You have to be perfect…perfect in every possible way.  Should your hair appear frizzy, your legs have cellulite, or your clothes not coordinate, some “expert” is quick to criticize.  True to form, other sections of these magazines then spotlight celebrities that have substance abuse and relationship problems.  Are we surprised that these individuals have a difficult time coping with the stress to be perfect?  Time and time again we hear about the star that overdosed, has an eating disorder, or has been arrested.

You read through these magazines and you get the sense that people at some level must really enjoy reading about other people’s pain.  Why else would these magazines exist? Why would I need to know about the pain that Sandra Bullock is experiencing or that Lindsey Lohan is using drugs again?

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