Anna Nicole and Sudan: Why Watch?

I quickly tire of wall-to-wall coverage in cases involving celebs, so it's not in my DNA to self-immerse in stories like that involving the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Writing in the New York Times, Caryn James pretty well nailed it:

Without any actual career to back up her claim on the public, the question becomes why did we watch? The unsettlingly vapid reason: because we could. She was a glittery spectacle who offered guilt-free voyeurism, as we watched her dramas with drugs and weight and inheritance laws. And the lesson of her her fame is that there is no lesson.

Imagine if the scintilla of the attention devoted to Smith, or to American Idol (which I will acknowledge taking some enjoyment in), was devoted to Darfur.

Last June, Phoenix contributor Alexander Provan wrote about how, even with energetic efforts by student activists at Brown and elsewhere, it remained very difficult to get Americans to care about the human disaster taking place in Africa. While celebrities will win out every time, divestment efforts are picking up among the states, something that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof yesterday called "a rare instance where narrowly focused divestment makes practical as well as moral sense."

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