Two and a Half Men star, Charlie Sheen, has been making countless headlines in the news with his crazy antics, from his stints in and out of rehab to his radio rants on the Alex Jones Radio Show that resulted in his termination from Two and a Half Men after he made an anti-Semitic comment on the show’s creator. The media has been lapping up all these juicy news, continuously updating the public on the latest Charlie Sheen happenings.
It is evident that the agenda setting theory is taking place here. This theory refers to “the media’s ability, through repeated news coverage, to raise the importance of an issue in the public’s mind”. People who set the media agenda, also called gatekeepers, select the issues they feel are most worthy of coverage and give those issues wide attention. Usually, the agenda setting theory is used in the context of the news industry but it can also be applied to entertainment news such as in the case of the numerous Charlie Sheen news.
Obviously, the gatekeepers of the radio programs, television talk and tabloid shows, Web sites, magazines and newspapers that have been covering all the Sheen-related gossip think that this is what the public should, and want to know. This is kind of true. People take pleasure in feeding on another person’s problems, especially when that person is a celebrity. An article in the Huffington Post, written by Ed Martin (television critic for JackMyers.com, MediaBizBloggers, and TV Worth Watching) talks about this very issue. In it, Martin highlighted an interview that Piers Morgan had with comedian Howie Mandel on the former’s CNN talk show regarding the Sheen saga.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
When Morgan asked Mandel what he thought about “our warped news values,” in which Sheen is so dominant in news cycles, Mandel replied, “It’s a sad statement on humanity … that we all love a train wreck. I’m a parent, and I look at him and I think this must be torturous for his father and his family and the people who love and care about him and this is horrible for the children.
“You’re in television, you’re in the business,” Mandel said to Morgan. “We have to talk about it and show clips. [The fact that] we’re mesmerized by it is kind of a statement of who we are.”
A probable reason for all the coverage on Charlie Sheen’s antics is that the editor of a newspaper or television news broadcast have seen similar stories achieve high ratings. It’s an ugly truth. The public (including me, embarrassingly) love to read about a celebrity’s problems. (Lindsay Lohan, anyone?) It’s comforting to know that amid all the fame and fortune these celebrities have surrounding them, they are not immuned to the obstacles life throws at them. Believe it or not, the number of news surrounding Sheen has been so large that it has even led to the birth of a new verb. Apparently, the terms “sheened” and “sheening” refer to the act of partying.
So, if you guys have been following all the Charlie Sheen news, what are your opinions about it? Should the media continuously feed the public with all the Sheen-related issues?
The Huffington Post