[Hpn] Junk Food News

Peter Phillips peter.phillips@SONOMA.EDU
Tue, 02 Jul 2002 15:40:48 -0700

Junk Food News: Entertainment Media

By Peter Phillips, Krista Arata and Kathleen O'Rourke-Christopher

For several years Project Censored at Sonoma State University has been
releasing a list of the most frivolous over-reported news stories of the
year. We call this list Junk Food News because it fills up the American
airways and news stands with celebrity gossip and meaningless coverage of
the unimportant. Junk Food News is the cotton candy headlines and the soda
pop stories that make up the basis for what has unfortunately become known
as news in this country. Famous lives provide us with an entertainment rush
and a false reality that radiates in comparison to the darkness that
shrouds more important world issues. Genocide, war, big business
machinations, and the manipulation of third-world countries cannot compare
to what Gwenyth Paltrow chooses to wear on Oscar night.
This year's selections were voted on by the 200 students, faculty and media
researchers who work with Project Censored and hundreds of other people
world-wide who are members of our weekly independent news listserv at
The number one junk food news story of the year by an overwhelming majority
of the votes, was the Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman saga. While the West Bank
found itself in the throes of a bloody civil war, our nation took sides in
this tawdry battle. There was the Nicole camp -"Tom must have strayed with
that tramp Penelope Cruz," his costar in Vanilla Sky. And there was the Tom
camp - "Nicole obviously cheated with Ewan McGregor," her costar in Moulin
Rouge. Both camps knew in their hearts that their beloved stars might have
done wrong. So what!
Number two on our list is another relationship that was in turmoil. Puff
Daddy (or is it P. Diddy now?) and Jennifer Lopez headed to Heartbreak
Hotel. But the drama was so much more involved this time. First they made
headlines by dating- she's Latina and he's African-American. Then there was
talk of a marriage, which had tongues wagging across the globe. What would
one of the most beautiful women in America wear to her wedding? Next came a
shooting in which Puffy was accused of mischief with JLo as a witness. The
final blow came when, during Puffy's trial, JLo dumped him, and the rumor
mill churned about her supposed involvement with a backup dancer in her
crew while she was with Puffy. Eventually, Puffy was acquitted and JLo
married the dancer, and they all lived happily ever after.
Number 3 brought us Mariah Carey. Poor Mariah, the weight of being an
ultra-mega-superstar proved to be too much for her. Her first feature film
flopped faster and harder than Howard the Duck. The corresponding sound
track CDs were used as Frisbees in backyards around America, and she had
herself a mental breakdown. When she came out of it - although that may be
debatable as of yet - her record company paid her to go away! She was given
millions upon millions of dollars to take her "talent" elsewhere. One thing
she can be proud of is that this debacle has earned her a coveted spot on
the Junk Food Top 10.
The remainders of the Junk Food news stories of the year are: #4 The
reduction of Pamela Anderson's "liquid assets," from a size DD to a size C;
#5. Robert Downey, JR's frequent and inevitable drug busts; # 6 The gossip
question - are they or aren't they? - regarding Britney Spears and Justin
Timberlake; #7 The constant invasion of the private lives of Prince Charles
and his sons; #8 The suspicion and confirmation of Rosie O'Donnell's
sexuality; #9 Dubya's daughter's alcoholic escapades, and #10 Michael
Jordan's wishy-washy decision making on retirements, comebacks and
Corporate media has built a successful entertainment dynasty on Junk Food
News in our society. They repeat the message that money and status
consistently overshadow ethics and morality. This message treats us all as
passive voyeurs in the drama of life, status and power.

Peter Phillips is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State
University and director of Project Censored a media research organization.
Krista Arata and Kathleen O'Rourke-Christopher are students at Sonoma State
University and the principle researchers and writers for the 2002 Junk Food
News list.

Peter Phillips Ph.D.
Sociology Department/Project Censored
Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Ave.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928