MY Poor Wife watches The Young and the Restless, her secret shame before the founding of this blog. Her viewing dates to college and, I suspect, the peer-pressure influence of some theoretical-minded sorority sister who'd read some French guy who said that poshlost taste was the new avant-garde. This, of course, did nothing much other than actually lower the standards of trash, predictably, since while it is certainly true that Joyce, to choose one example, was a regular reader of The Police Gazette, so, too, were hundreds of thousands of others who left no evidence they could decipher a Ulysses, let alone produce one. This was a Continental doubletalk version of the romantic sophomore notion that drinking to excess turns one into Dylan Thomas.
(Just to be clear about it: there's no problem with enjoying this crap, provided you realize why you ought to be ashamed to admit it to functioning adults. The whole Star Trek phenomenon would be harmless fun if it weren't for morphological adults walking around in public wearing Spock ears, speaking Klingon, or teaching law classes.)
Over the years, though--the problem is newly exacerbated by the fact that she's discovered SoapNet and nightly replays; for years it was a holiday/sick day lark--I've managed to wrest enough entertainment from occasional congruence with the thing to actively seek it out, in carefully controlled doses. (This used to be easier, as soaps traditionally moved at roughly the same pace as lichen growth, but they've speeded up now for that hip, complex-story-line-following 18-26 demo.) It's something of a revelation, and not necessarily a good one, which has led to Doghouse Riley's First and Only Rule of Teevee Scriptwriting, which is:
Even granting the ridiculous plot line someone adopted, how fucking difficult can it be to make things semi-believable?
Okay, so that's not really a rule, but over the years Y&R, as it's known to Soap Digest aficionados, has served up these memorable contributions to Western culture, as recorded by a guy who passed through the room occasionally:
• Years ago, a Private Investigator (we'll be returning to the Law in a moment) discovered the key to a case, a cassette tape containing vital evidence. The plot then turned on it taking three days for him to hook up with the guy he knew who had a cassette player.
• The perfume-baronage family decided to take its privately-held company public, only to accidentally sell 51% of the stock, and this to one of the other major international industrialists inexplicably squatting in West Bumfuck, Wisconsin, who had hidden his identity in order to buy it up.
• Jurisprudence, forget about it; if the rest of daytime teevee is equally bad there's little point in worrying about what we're teaching kids in school. That PI became a PI because his dad was a cop. That was his one qualification; Dad joined in on some cases. A product-tampering case, whose victim was in California, is being handled by the local bunco desk; a long legal limbo has resulted from the question of whether the victim died from the poison no one disputes was present, or had an unrelated heart attack. Innocence before the bar, and Due Process, are apparently superseded, under the Wisconsin constitution, by drawing legal concepts out of a hat. No one ever runs a major multination corporate decision past a lawyer, let alone a board; someone just barks out an order to form a new division, and the next week it's in operation, being run by a supermodel.
• Everyone in town has had transient global amnesia, a doppelgänger, or both, at least once; one current story line involves the wealthiest woman in the Great Lakes Region suffering from both simultaneously, except the doppelgänger died, so she has to get her slowly-recovering identity back by stealing records from a pawn shop, which might at least make some sort of sense if they'd had a pawn shop set lying around, which they didn't.
Well, I'm sure I started out with a segué for that.
Oh, the Blizzard. This week there was a Blizzard, apparently so an adulterous couple could get trapped in a cabin, and some kid could fall through the ice. I don't recall ever visiting Wisconsin in February, but I'm guessing that people there are at least somewhat concerned with the weather, and that the ice is more or less generally thick, but no mind. The amorous trapees are interrupted on a regular schedule by some sort of Park Ranger; people come and go through the screenless door without so much as a little frosty blowback; despite the fact that we're in the deep woods, and minus electricity, the thing is the quietest damn blizzard in the meteorological record books. It gave every appearance of people in Southern California believing that blizzards, or perhaps all natural disasters, followed the wildfire pattern, like it was just over the next hill or something.
And hell, they may believe that, but the fact is that even if they don't it's easier to pretend they do.
I thought that Applebaum column was pretty much a throwaway--I was just gonna use the headline without further comment--but then your comments convinced me otherwise. We aren't a nation of Hawaiians with twelve words for poi and none for snow. We may not know precisely what should be done about the crisis in the finance sector, but we know a hawk from a snowshovel, and we know that greed, theft, misfeasance and malfeasance are at the core, the result of thirty-five years of Republican rule. We know it's the major arteries which need to be cleaned off; people's stoops are of lesser importance. We know it's the average citizen--the same guy these people are grifting in good times as well as bad--who needs and deserves protection, and we know that massive government intervention is the only way we'll solve things, if they are to be solved at all. It's torchlight and pitchforks otherwise, Ms Applebaum, and if certain segments of the mob see fit to start with the WaPo building, well, that's the way the snow blows.