John Edwards and the Scandals That Intrigue Us

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John Edwards finally admitted to being the father of a child that he had with a mistress.

Wipe that drool off your mouth, political gossip lovers – I’m going a different direction.

Since when was a political figure’s personal life ANYONE’S business? Since the Lewinsky scandal? Well, Clinton lied under oath, I get that. However, that should have NEVER made the news. Thanks to a bunch of political busybodies, Clinton’s personal life became world news – even before he lied about it.

So here comes the cliche “how would you like it?” scenario. How would you like it if your personal life was brought to the top stories at the water cooler? Might I say you’d be thoroughly annoyed, bewildered and embarrassed.

Infidelity is indeed wrong, as is lying about it – but why not leave it to the accused to deal with it? Why do we need to know?

Simple – we’ve become a deluded gossip-oriented culture. All you have to do is watch Fox Reality Channel for a few minutes to realize that Americans can’t get enough scandal. We just can’t get enough of what ruins and destroys other people’s lives. That’s why reality TV has taken off – not only the illusion that what you’re seeing is real life, but the gossip and trash-talking that makes up a good 90% of these shows.

People are going to ridiculous lengths to become noticed. Remember the Octomom? Everyone had an opinion – either you loved her and hoped she got free help, or you loathed her and hoped her kids were taken away. Balloon Boy? There are talks of a MOVIE being made over the entire thing. The White House crashers? Jon and Kate? The common denominator being of course, pathetic people wanting to become instantly famous. Another similarity is the way these stories and people somehow captivated this nation.

I guess I can go with the mindset that becoming a celebrity predetermines every aspect of your personal life to be scrutinized and reported on. The idiom “any publicity is good publicity” comes to mind – unless you’re O.J. Simpson or Phil Spector.

Which brings me to celebrities and the law. Michael Jackson was accused of being a pedophile for the better part of two decades. Sans any shock or awe to me personally, his 2005 trial was the top story of the year and cemented him in infamy. However, he was never PROVEN to be a pedophile. The media took the story of the parents and ran with it. Americans completely ignored the fact that Michael Jackson had money, children are impressionable and parents are influential. Just because someone enjoys the company of kids doesn’t mean they have sexual relations with them. By that logic, elementary school teachers are pedophiles. This case is the biggest example of Americans buying into the media in lieu of logically exploring alternate possibilities.

The problem with criminal cases and public opinion is that more often than not, public opinion becomes that of the media’s. The media doesn’t care about the true story, they care about the story that will get the most ratings and sell the most magazines. Hence all of the speculation surrounding MJ’s death. They printed as much unsubstantiated garbage as they could for one sole purpose – to sell magazines.

Don’t even get me started on how everyone magically seemed to care about him and forget his scandals after he died.

The O.J. Simpson case was another one which captivated the world. The general consensus surrounding this case is that he was guilty, much like the consensus with the Jackson case.

Ninety-five million viewers watched as the iconic white Ford Bronco slowly chugged along with police in tow. Eventually, following now-famous anecdotes, sayings and moronic rhymes, Simpson was found not guilty. His inability to explain the physical evidence against him enraged the public and he was labeled as a killer. His house was auctioned off, bought and subsequently destroyed by the buyer. So much for “innocent until proven guilty.” So much for having faith in the judicial system. His relatively recent jailing for armed robbery put many armchair prosecutors at rest.

That trial also further perpetuated the idea that celebrities are given lighter sentences and greater leniency due to their social status. It also further pushed America into the Hollywood-obsessed culture we now inhabit.

Is it too much to ask to form your own opinions, completely free of media influence? American life has become like a tabloid – people only want to discuss the exaggerated and unsubstantiated because it sounds more interesting. Either people are becoming increasingly boring, or rumors and lies are becoming the way to go. My apologies – HAVE become the way to go.

Or is all of this because we all need our minds taken off how deep into the proverbial grave we are? I thought that goofy color-coded Terror Alert was created for that? I thought the random disasters and catastrophes did a good enough job with that? Granted, celebrities often pitch in to aid in relief efforts, but if that celebrity has been involved in some kind of scandal his or her help is seen as them trying to ameliorate their image. No way, people can’t help because they care! Are you kidding?

The donation of the common citizen isn’t ever reported on; the scandal of the common citizen is never reported on. You never see a paparazzi chasing you down to snap a picture and report on how you went to the store to buy a jug of milk. I personally believe the scrutiny that celebrities come under is a small price they should be willing to pay for being paid enormous sums of money to do essentially nothing.

The fact is, John Edwards’ latest “scandal” doesn’t affect his political decisions and it surely doesn’t affect any of the American people. Much like… gay marriage doesn’t affect anyone directly. Oh no, I didn’t.

Now, when I say Americans I obviously don’t mean EVERY American. I know there are mindful and perceptive people out there who aren’t so easily swayed by the media and Hollywood. However, just look at the ratings of American Idol and you’ll see my point. Well, part of it anyway – if you haven’t gotten my point at this juncture, maybe you need to turn off Access Hollywood for a couple of days.

So, got nothing better to talk about? Pick a celebrity and talk into the wee hours of the night!

John Danz Jr is a serious writer with a penchant for poetry and building a foundation in every form of writing. He is motivated by a never-ending thirst for informed knowledge and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with every completed poem or story.

A drummer drawn to classic and modern rock/metal music, John is deeply interested in meteorology, psychology, sociology and philosophy. Weather has always fascinated him, he wants to know why people do what they do, understand the cultures of the world, reflect on great minds and gain a better understanding of this world and our place in it.