Caitlin, Homer and Migrant Crises

2015-06-11 14:36

You want to know something interesting? Last week, whereas 19.35% of global news media coverage was devoted to the freshly-femaled Caitlin Jenner, only 18.01% percentage was awarded to Isis and their poor behavior. The world press, it would seem, deemed it more interesting, and by extension more important to write about Caitlin Jenner’s reveal (cover of Vanity Fair), than to reveal the fact that Isis is taking over region after region with deadly intention.

Oh, and 4.36% of global coverage went to Miley Cyrus, but only 3.26% to the current and horrific migrant crises. One of the stories relating to this human catastrophe actually involved a pet cat (named Lola), which had managed to survive the journey across deserts and stormy waters only to be discovered by a British patrol boat. Lola, incidentally (and because I am sure you are wondering), is now safely quarantined on the island of Lampedusa, but will be reunited with her owner, who we have to assume has a name that no one seems to remember.

It is worth noting, and is probably not surprising that the same week saw the international media being 0.6% concerned with the revelation that Homer and Marge Simpson are legally separating. I have to say, between just us, that I saw this one coming and have always felt that Marge could have done better.

South Africans, according the ROI Africa, the company responsible for this research, continue to be Eskom obsessed. And who could blame us? Eskom clearly has a brilliant marketing strategy that ensures that we don’t get bored with talking about them (disproving the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity).

It’s as if they sit in their Board Room over lunch (with open smoked salmon sandwiches starters, followed by a hefty portion of chicken livers and mashed potato, washed down by a full bodied Cabernet) and brainstorm as to the best ways to keep us talking. “What if…” I can (almost) imagine the marketing person suggesting, whilst swirling his wine and inhaling the magnificent bouquet, “ We create a load shedding timetable, but then… not stick to it!” They love it. It’s a keeper. “Wait!” says another, whilst delicately picking the smoked salmon off the bread, “ What if we got City Power to create billing havoc and then randomly cut off people’s supply, unless the pay the required bribe to stay connected or pay the fictitious amount they are charged!” Its genius! Yet another successful day at Eskom. Is there any real wonder that 18.22% of SA News is devoted to the non-supplier of electricity.

The story that these figures tell is more than just a little shameful. Real human suffering just doesn’t get our attention. The fact that there is a migrant crises of massive proportions, with the desperate fleeing parts of Africa and willing to take on monumental journeys that might well kill them, the fact that they are prepared to risk death because the reality of their lives is awful and unbearable, doesn’t seem to move us. The fact that Isis continues, daily, to proudly brutalise, annihilate and decimate doesn’t earn as much of our attention as the fact that Bruce Jenna is now Caitlin (with a C) Jenna and has appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. Or that Kim Kardashian (with a K) is now pregnant with her second child. We would rather speak about Lola the cat than her desperate owner, we would rather roll our eyes at Miley Cyrus than engage with reality.

And I get it. I really do because I am no different. The world is a harsh place with tremendous suffering and tremendous pain. And there is only so much that we are able to cope with, and that we are able to engage in. But whereas there is not much that we can do about Homer and Marge separating, (legally), by engaging in the humanitarian crises around us, by creating an interest in this, maybe then others will be forced to do the same. And maybe, if we do so, these shameful and somewhat embarrassing statistics will tell a different story.

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