Usain Bolt after his victory and world record ...
Usain Bolt after his victory and world record in the 100m at the bird’s nest, during 2008 Beijing olympics, august 16th (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep, here we go again.

Usain Bolt has a white girlfriend!

Usain Bolt breaks up with his girlfriend!

Here goes another media feeding frenzy over something that is none of our business and totally unimportant. And just as was being said when I wrote my post about Yendi, the media are being asked why they won’t go off and solve crime, fix the economy, and prevent the sexual abuse of children.

Well, here’s the thing. First of all, check any newspaper. Listen to any newscast or talk show. There are actually scores of articles and issues discussed and covered every week. Sure, some of them are about people like Usain Bolt and his girlfriend, Kartel’s escapades, Kim Kardashian or (personal shudder) Justin Bieber, but there are also tons of stories on the economy, Parliament, crime and certainly right now, the sexual abuse of children.

We can talk about more than one thing at a time. We certainly have the column inches, the internet space and the hours of talk time.

“Why aren’t we talking about important issues?” goes the disparaging remark.

“We need to fix the serious problems in the country!”

I always wonder if people making these comments really think that the technocrats in the Finance Ministry have halted work on the budget, the police have stopped fighting crime, and social workers have put helping abused kids on hold while they enjoy the latest gossip about Usain. Or Asafa. And I’m sure your turn is coming soon, Yohan.  The problems of the country are being grappled with folks, even if we devote a bit of media space to whichever superstar people are following these days.

I always wonder how many of the critics making comments like that actually read the long (sometimes way too long) analytical articles in the Sunday papers, the detailed pieces in the business sections, or watch the coverage of Parliament (outside of the cass-cass). Hmmm. Anyway.

So, let’s forget the nonsense about the media needing to focus on important things. Serious news organisations do. All the time. BUT NOT ALL MEDIA HOUSES HAVE SERIOUS NEWSROOMS. So if you’re expecting that all media outlets will focus on the same crime/politics/economy/etc issues, you are really out of touch. And if you expect serious news organisations to ignore stories that millions of people are interested in, you’re not being realistic.

The other issue, then, is, should people be so concerned about something that is none of their business? Surely all that his fans should be concerned about is the time he ran in his latest race!

Usain Bolt winning the 100 m final 2008 Olympics.
Usain Bolt winning the 100 m final 2008 Olympics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who cares if Usain Bolt wants to date or dump a white, black or purple woman? Well, rightly or wrongly, hundreds of thousands (millions?) do.

People tend to decide for themselves what they are and are not interested in, and we can cover Parliament, the Estimates of Expenditure and the Caribbean Court of Justice til the super moon passes by again, that won’t stop people being interested in Bolt.  And it’s because hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people across the world do care about Usain Bolt’s love life that it’s a story. As one journalist said to me

“He’s a superstar and it’s an Olympic year.” Duh!

Bolt’s Facebook page has over 6.6 MILLION likes.

usain bolt - victory lap
usain bolt – victory lap (Photo credit: hannahspanna)

I wrote a post on news in the age of social media. Yea, social media matters. Do you really think it’s possible to have that many fans that connected to you, reading your every tweet and clicking on your latest post, without them feeling invested in your life, and yes, who you’re dating?

Since I first  posted this, a FB friend Irwine Clare commented:

“Why not? Brand Usain Bolt, it goes with the territory. $$$$$$ more”

That is an important point.  Stars deliberately build their platforms to help convert fans into consumers (of branded clothes, restaurants, books, whatever). That process contributes to the deep interest in their activities and lives.

So maybe you’d prefer to watch Parliamentarians debate the Estimates of Expenditure. That’s great. But I think you should accept that Usain’s girlfriends are going to be big news as long as he is a superstar. If you don’t like it, do what I do when I’m confronted by Bieber fever. Turn the page. Change the station. Click away. In other words, move on.