Yesterday, sitting at my dining table, I fumed as I watched the video of Kim Davis walking onstage after being released from jail to the victorious beat of “Eye of the Tiger” — a song of triumph better suited for a win on Guitar Hero.
For those of you who are living under a rock and are unaware about this news phenomenon, Kim Davis is the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who was jailed last week for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The scandal went viral, and now Davis is being regarded by many as a martyr for her faith, which has others up in flames.
What disturbed me was not Davis’ opinion of gay marriage. Like my editor Haleigh McGill discussed last week, Davis, like everyone else, is entitled to her own set of beliefs. I was more disgusted in the way that Davis was glorified, made out to look like some sort of hero for breaking the law. The crowd of supporters that gathered were cheering for her as if she was Jesus himself.
To be frank, this whole situation is verging on outlandish. The media and its consumers have created yet another storm of a news story. What started out as an interesting, controversial report has turned into another vicious cat-and-mouse game between Christian extremists and the LGBTQ community – and an unnecessary one at that.
But this is the way our culture works, right? We’re ready to pounce on anything controversial and create a sensation over the latest headlines we see on the right side of our Facebook feed. The media loves a good story, but we, the audience, love it more. It’s like national gossip — everyone wants in and everyone wants to share what they think, however ridiculous it is. In the process, the story gets too hyped up.
Davis is only one example of mainstream political and social phenomenas that are birthed from the media coverage and consumption. Donald Trump is another great example, if not the greatest. The guy is out of his mind — I think a significant number of people would agree. Yet he is getting the most press compared to other candidates. It seems every day there is another news item waiting to be devoured when we wake up, informing us of his latest outrageous comment or appearance. Free publicity — he’s using this to his advantage.
A few weeks ago, New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow wrote about the media attention that Trump is undeservedly amassing. “The constant harping on him only helps him,” Blow wrote.
This, too, rings true with the coverage and scrutiny Davis has been receiving.
Blow continues, “The media is being trolled on a massive scale and we look naïve and silly to have fallen for it, even if (Trump) draws readers and viewers.”
It’s time to screw our heads back on straight as media consumers. Big headlines and scandalous stories catch our attention and are important to stay up to date with, but by making news out of nonsense, we’re adding to the publicity that these people are eating up. They want a platform and we’re handing them one.
Yes, the Davis story was newsworthy — I’m not saying the coverage was wrong. But covering news is vastly different than using that coverage to unintentionally elevate an individual. I find it kind of pathetic that a woman who failed at her clerical duties in small-town Kentucky has garnered such national attention. Like Trump, it is only fueling her fire.
As the age-old adage goes, “Any press is good press,” but we need to check who we are creating a fuss over. Staying updated on national news is vital. Giving unnecessary attention to and inadvertently promoting crazy people is not.
Collegian Columnist Zara DeGroot is having a hard time finding motivation to do anything. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @zar_degroot.