The Death of True Journalism

According to the newest trending update on Facebook, actor Johnny Depp "finds it 'sickening' for movie stars to use fame to get into the music industry". Such a bold statement has the power to piss off such stars as Russell Crowe and Jared Leto, Jamie Fox, Miley Cyrus and many other actors-turned musicians or vice versa. 

But Facebook's trending alert - or whatever it's called - was just a paraphrase, and a rather misleading one at that. Here's what Depp really said:

“That whole idea for me is a sickening thing, it’s always just made me sick. I’ve been very lucky to play on friends’ records and it’s still going. Music is still part of my life. But you won’t be hearing The Johnny Depp Band. That won’t ever exist. The luxury now is, anybody with a certain amount of of success, if you have a musical being, you can go out and start a band and capitalize on your work in other areas. But I hate the idea, 'Come see me play the guitar because you've seen me in 12 movies.' It shouldn't be [that way]. You want the people who are listening to the music to only be interested in the music."

So, no, Depp doesn't find actors who want to be musicians sickening. He simply finds the idea of him exploiting his celebrity status to try and launch a music career sickening. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think he means he doesn't want his music to be a novelty-act, kind of like, 'Hey, come see Jack Sparrow play guitar'. If a person is going to be successful as a musician, it should be because of the music, not because he has 12 popular movies under his belt. That's what he would find sickening and ridiculous.

But this isn't what the media and news blogs would have you believe. To use one example, the Rolling Stone blog headline said "Johnny Depp: actors who start bands 'make me sick'". Billboard's blog was even worse, reading, "Johnny Depp: Actors making music is 'sickening'". These reckless blogs are basically trying to make it look like Depp's offending and insulting and being snobby towards anybody who wants to be both an actor and a musician. I'm pretty sure this isn't where he was coming from.

The media absolutely loves to fish for anything and everything that could become a celebrity 'slip-up', anything and everything that could be twisted around into controversy, maybe offend certain actor/musicians out there, whatever could become a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter and hopefully elicit hostile responses from both ordinary people and celebrities. Maybe Jared Leto will 'slam' Depp for his 'snobby' comments - something like that is what the media's looking for because it will trigger a new round of blogs that will get even more hits and more revenue.

So what's really sickening? 

Not actors turned musicians. What's really sickening is the fact that the media recklessly twists words around and reassembles statements that a person has made. What's also sickening is the presentation of half-truth as truth. What's further sickening is the media's complete abandonment of accurate journalism and how even the most 'trustworthy' news outfits have degraded themselves to the color of yellow and this filthy yellow journalism has somehow managed to take on the guise of and fool everybody into thinking it's true journalism.

But maybe what's most sickening is that half-truths and outright lies have become an army and this army has raped and pillaged the village of truth (sorry, maybe I'm trying to be a little too poetic here, but you get the idea). Ad revenue, which is maximized by maximizing blog hits, has become a journalist's god while truth has essentially become the devil. I want to say that truth has consequently become an endangered species, but that may be too generous of a statement. Truth may very well be extinct in this media-saturated culture of unreality!

The reason why this is such a big problem is because celebrities are going to be so tired of having their words twisted - not to mention being completely misquoted - that they're just going to stop talking to the media altogether. I wouldn't blame Depp if he never wanted to open his mouth again because it's like he can never do no right. The media is just going to betray him, twist things around and put words in his mouth that are going to elicit some sort of controversial or hostile reaction that will essentially get more blog clicks and accumulate more ad revenue.

Celebrities NEED to talk. We look up to them. They are people we emulate and follow. They need to speak their mind, because if they do, so do we. But celebrities aren't going to talk if whatever they say is just going to be manipulated into a package of half-truths that is only meant to serve the media's interests and their need for blog hits. Or even if celebrities don't shut up completely, they're still going to play it safe and keep it so PC that they might as well not be saying anything at all.

The bottom line here is that - if celebrities keep quiet - so don't we. If celebrities keep it PC, so don't we. The voice box of free expression must not be silenced. Once it is, we all die.


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