The United States of America is often referred to as melting pot with a mixed bag of ingredients, most of which many people would rather forget about – just saying. Not only was the land of the free and the brave founded on the literal and cultural genocide of one people and the centuries long oppression of another, but America, like many other Western countries, has had a long standing reputation for not always being so welcoming to the immigrants that make up the very melting pot which it claims to be proud of. Take for example, the discrimination faced by European immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century, or even the discrimination Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian immigrants still face today.
But if there’s one thing that brings this melting pot together, it’s the latest Hollywood gossip and news, especially Black entertainment news. After all, who doesn’t want all the tea and shade on what artists and entertainers like Beyonce and Kim Kardashian are doing. Well, a lot of people, surprisingly. Although there are still a variety of urban news outlets that solely focus on Black entertainment news, such as Black gossip sites and social media platforms dedicated to issues within the African American community, many of the entertainment, Black celebrity gossip, and trends still find their way into the mainstream media. No surprise there!
But what is this obsession with Black entertainment news and the latest celebrity gossip doing to society as a whole? Why is it potentially harmful or destructive? Well, here are a few reasons why.
It perpetuates harmful stereotypes
For many people, especially those that live in rural communities, their only exposures to people of other cultures and races, including African Americans, is through television, the internet, and other forms of media. And when those media platforms are perpetuating harmful stereotypes that Black people are aggressive, loud, violent, uneducated, belligerent, lazy, “victims”, or just straight up “ghetto”, these generalizations take on a whole new life and become especially problematic. In fact, many of the stereotypes perpetuated in Black entertainment news and mainstream media is general are subconsciously used to dehumanize and disassociate from African Americans. In other words, it facilitates the creation of a distinct “us vs. them” mentality with little to no room for empathy.
It’s not empowering
When African Americans are portrayed in a more positive light that goes against the widely accepted stereotypes about them, people’s perception as a whole can begin to change. For example, there are a number of significant contributions made to science and technology by African Americans, and countless young African Americans are rising above the challenges of living in poor, urban environments and going on to college. But as they say, good news is boring news, and people would much rather read about the latest celebrity beef than about how to manage their finances. Education is the key to becoming empowered, and Black entertainment news and entertainment news in general is anything but educational or empowering.
It promotes distracting and potentially dangerous trends
Everyone would like to think that “fomo” or fear of missing out isn’t really a thing but unfortunately it is, and a serious one at that. As funny as it may seem, this fear of not being able to catch up with the latest celebrity news and trends can actually become quite debilitating, time consuming, and distracting. And in many cases, these trends can also become dangerous, especially if they promote the use of harmful substances or illegal activity. Not only that, but mainstream media news and celebrity gossip also perpetuates unachievable and unrealistic standards for beauty. This drives many men and women to undergo painful and dangerous cosmetic procedures in order to live up to this unattainable standard.
It encourages cultural appropriation
Cultural appropriation has become a hot issue and is often misunderstood. There’s no denying that for centuries, African Americans have made significant contributions to mainstream American culture, but rarely is credit given where credit is due. In fact, many of the common slang, fashion trends, and styles of music that are widely used and enjoyed, are rooted in African and African American culture. The majority of Americans are unaware of this.
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