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Katie Pamitier | Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In a recent episode of “The Office”…

Kelly: “Oh my god, I have so much to tell you.”

Jim: “Really?”

Kelly: “Yes. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, they had a baby named Suri. And then Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie they had a baby too and named it Shilo. And both babies are a-mazing!”

Jim: “Great. What’s new with you?”

Kelly: “I just told you.”

To many loyal “Office” fans out there, Kelly is known as the annoying and clingy ditz. However, she unfortunately has the same priorities and world view as many Americans. Hence why this scene is so funny: we all know someone like Kelly and laugh at his or her na’vety. However, perhaps our Kelly-like friends are not the ones to be blamed for their lack of worldview. Over the past two weeks it has been nearly impossible to find a news station that was not reporting the latest updates on the Anna Nicole Smith death or discussing new possible reasons as to why Britney Spears buzzed her head. Although somewhat interesting and often times comical, celebrity news deserves no spot in the evening headlines. There are more relevant and demanding events happening in the world than trying to decide who is Anna Nicole’s baby’s daddy, and we must create a demand for pertinent current affairs in our daily paper and primetime news before it is too late.

By now, we are all well aware of the possible causes of death of Anna Nicole Smith. Not only is there debate over her cause of death, but also the location of her burial. The father of her child is still a hot topic of discussion, and remains, 20 days later, to be headline news.

Consequently, foreign affairs and political matters have fallen to the wayside and fly under the public radar. The fact that the Iraqi president is controversially ill and hospitalized hails in comparison to the controversy regarding Jennifer Aniston and her reportedly new nose. If the President in Iraq is in fact on his deathbed, the United States’ ongoing struggle in Iraq just grew exponentially worse, which means more death for soldiers and civilians alike.

The consequences of Jen getting a nose job, however, are obviously more important to the American public. And the fact that Britney is committing acts of mass destruction to her appearance (and her career) is far more important that the threat of destruction and death in the newfound Al-Qaeda operation in Pakistan. And this is all according to “The Today Show” and CNN, not “Entertainment Tonight” and the TV Guide Channel as one would expect.

It is not breaking news that entertainment is what sells, but consumers should not buy into entertainment as our breaking news. For some reason, we all enjoy hearing about the latest celebrity gossip: who is dating whom, who is gaining weight, and who checked into rehab. Our culture thrives on this information, and, as a result, the news media have succumbed to our obsession. We are thus sadly left recognizing the names “TomKat” and “Brangelina” instead of Zawahri and Talabani.

And we at Notre Dame cannot escape the epidemic. Students seem to be more concerned about the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s conflict than the ongoing, deadly conflict in the Middle East. Our ignorance of worldly affairs will lead to not only our personal downfall, but the downfall of the country as well. The students of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s hold the key to our nation’s future, and if we cannot even recognize our ignorance and strive for a change, the hope for a better future is bleak.

Pretty soon, the lack of public awareness of current events is going to take its toll. The threat of global warming and the ongoing conflict Iraq have managed to fall through the cracks, and those are the issues that have way more of an effect on our lives, definitely more so than who won the Oscar Sunday night. If we do not start holding the media responsible for providing us with substantial, significant information, the welfare of our country will plummet. As citizens, we need to be well informed so that we can make better decisions in our daily lives, elect political leaders that will provide the best well being for their constituents, and exercise our freedom of speech so that we may have a voice in public policy. The sooner we start acting like responsible citizens, the sooner buzzworthy will refer to significant news rather than Britney’s new ‘do.

Katie Palmitier is a sophomore

political science major. She can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.