This is a test. Since I had my largest readerships when infamous or histrionic subjects were in my blog posts, I was curious if that was a quirk or because of some voyeuristic hunger and need for sensationalism on peoples’ part.
I’ll check my stats later and report back on the results. In the meantime I’ve come up with a few possibilities for this phenomenon—if the latter rings true as I suspect it will.
Three reasons come to mind off the top of my head: boredom with life, identification with a victim and/or perpetrator if a crime has been committed, and the possibility for a volcanic release of pent-up emotions.
Regarding boredom … think of a close relationship you have had, marriage perhaps. I’ve read that most end not due to fighting but because a languid emptiness sets in. How often can you listen to the same silly story of your husband’s or your wife’s first day at summer camp. Most of us need stimulation to keep our brains amused and after years of the same face across the dinner table, that face–the one that you worshipped–may start to resemble a tomato.
While it’s easy to identify with a victim since we have all been laughed at, spit on, hit and cursed at one time or another, we also have a taste for revenge. Don’t pretend you have never imagined breaking the leg of the jerk who dared to pass you on the highway. Now, I did say “imagined.” Fortunately, there’s a big difference between thinking and doing. But hearing of someone on TV who really did the unthinkable may fulfill a need, along with a sigh of relief that you are not the monster! And so much the better if a horrendous act was committed. Then you can really feel superior.
Sometimes we just need a vacation from ourselves. Since we may not be able to afford a month at a luxurious hotel in London, overlooking the Thames, listening to the lurid details of a celebrity’s life offers at least an overnight stay. And if that celebrity is photographed drunk and stumbling out of a club, then you can assure yourself that your life isn’t so bad after all.
Lacking royalty in the U.S., we have to settle for movie stars or would-be movie stars. I remember when Anna Nicole Smith died just four years ago and Saturday Night Live did a parody of Wolf Blitzer trying to report serious news on CNN. In the skit, while “Wolf” was talking, the bottom half of the screen was devoted to a continuous stream of words about Anna’s life and death and the battle for the custody of her infant daughter. Today, I wonder if people even remember who she was since we have moved on to Casey Anthony, and, now that that’s resolved, we are back to the polygamous Mormon denomination, FLDS, since the trial of its leader Warren Jeffs is about to begin. But with the debt crisis looming next week, we really do have something to worry about, and I’m glad to see that people are paying attention.
In a recent episode on South Park (one of my favorite shows) everything literally and figuratively turned to shit. Fans were worried that the show’s creators were sending a signal that after 14 years, they have had enough. While Trey Parker and Matt Stone assured everyone that it wasn’t the case, they made their point through the voices of their cartoon characters: life doesn’t have to be terrible to turn to shit; it merely has to be ordinary.