When the pop culture takes itself too seriously

By Gene Hall

When it comes to controversial food issues such as GMOs, I’ll take science and research over pop culture every time.

I’ve written here about how pop culture assumptions get circulated in the Internet maze until they become a sort of conventional wisdom that is not at all wise. We’ve become a celebrity culture that almost worships the famous, even those who are famous for being famous.

I have no problem with that, but I’ve spent some time trying to figure out where to draw the line. Should celebrities have freedom to test the limits of what it takes to entertain us? Absolutely! Should we depend on them to be our advisors on diet and health? I’m thinking “no.”

I enjoy late night host Jimmy Kimmel. Please understand I’m not saying I even know what his beliefs are. I like that I don’t know that. What I know is that if you have an outrageous, pop culture, knee jerk opinion on something, he might ask you to explain it. Hilariously, a lot of folks can’t.

Then there are celebrities who take themselves far too seriously, launching separate careers advising us on what to eat and how to take care of our health. Suzanne Somers, cancer survivor, thank goodness, and recently booted from Dancing with the Stars, is that kind of celebrity.

But without the scientific and medical knowledge that underpins that kind of career, “What if she’s wrong?” A lot of really solid science types think she is.

Then there’s Vani Hari, the self-styled Food Babe who learned that one thing that sells in our pop-culture, celebrity-driven culture is fear. She’s made a fortune selling prodigious amounts of it. If you paid any attention at all in your high school chemistry class, you’ll spot some nonsense right away. But trying to engage her online will only get you banned from her social media spaces. Facts can be so confusing. Let’s not go there, right?

None of this is to say you shouldn’t read the blogs or buy the books. But don’t wait for Jimmy Kimmel to ask the obvious questions. Ask them yourself.

It’s all right to be a fan. It’s not okay to equate celebrity with knowledge or wisdom. Unless, of course, they’ve earned that kind of respect. Show me some education, degrees, research and science.

Until then, I’m not buying.


Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

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