Media manipulation

Talk about your product rollout. That’s exactly what happened with the story that has been forced upon us the last few months via TV, magazine covers and social media. I’m referring, of course, to the sad case of Bruce Jenner, the gold medalist whose image was once plastered all over Wheaties cereal boxes, and who now after plastic surgery, hair extensions and excessive amounts of makeup and tight dresses, wants to be called “Caitlyn.”

In addition to getting publicity through an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer that garnered around 16.9 million viewers, Jenner also landed on the cover of Vanity Fair, signed a contract for a TV reality show, broke a record in terms of the number of Twitter followers and was even given an ESPY award because, according to ESPN, Jenner has shown courage in “helping to move forward a constructive dialogue about progress and acceptance.”

What’s really going on here is a major attempt to sell something to the world: that anything goes when it comes to one’s emotions. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that money isn’t also a large part of the bigger agenda here. Jenner and the oversexualized media are using each other in an attempt to grab more followers. Jenner gets free publicity and potentially more contracts, and the media executives get more subscribers and higher ratings. The final icing on the cultural cake, though, has to do with continuing to push society over the edge, and if that has to be done through media manipulation, so be it.

After all, Bruce Jenner did not go through with the reassignment surgery. The only surgery he had was to alter his appearance. That fact seems to get lost in all the media hype and frenzy. The fact that his image plastered all over the Internet is also a huge manipulation. Jenner’s image was highly Photoshopped and very carefully created or crafted. For the Vanity Fair cover, he had to wear a corset to hide his male body parts. The idea here was to make him look sexy and attractive, giving you and me the impression — no matter how false it may be — that attempting to change one’s gender identity is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t matter if you were once the ultimate strongman, an Olympian even — anything is possible and acceptable. If it feels right, just do it.

Bruce Jenner needs our prayers and sympathy, not our endorsement. He also needs, instead of trying to embrace a new identity, to understand who he really is: someone created in the image and likeness of God. There is help available for those struggling with gender issues. Unfortunately, the information about such programs and stories concerning the devastating fallout from reassignment surgery are often pushed aside, limited to Christian media outlets or ignored, which means that these folks, too, are being manipulated. A study conducted in Sweden found that those who go through hormone treatment and gender reassignment surgery do indeed have a higher suicide rate than the general population. Further, those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery often have major regrets and additional psychological issues.

None of this makes any difference to those who try to convince us that gender re-identity is the new cause of the day. As with other activists groups whose issues contradict biblical principles, Church teaching and the natural law, everyone is just expected to line up and eagerly ingest the latest dose of media manipulation, no matter how toxic it might be. It’s all for the sake of pushing the envelope, as well as profiting from the slippery slope. It’s a hard pill to swallow and a prescription that will make a painful cultural situation even worse.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.