Tuesday, March 6

The Kuleshov Effect

It snowed Saturday overnight, just enough that I had to go downstairs to retrieve my errand boots before I went to buy the Sunday paper. We're still feuding with the paperboy from ten years and two houses ago. It had turned what the teevee people were probably calling "bitterly" cold, although that sort of hyperventilation generally fades some by the end of the season, when it becomes harder and harder to scare up ratings by warning people who never go outside if they can help it that it's still winter. (Snow, of course, is another matter, since you have to drive in it; a good snow in the Rockies in June is worth another two ratings points.)

It was 7:15 when I went out the back door. There was a large woodpecker busy somewhere nearby, probably a yellow-shafted flicker, but we sometimes see red-breasteds and the occasional pileated. I couldn't see him but there's no mistaking the sound of their hammering for that of the smaller models, and I (still coffeeless) thought, "Hell of a way to make a living, bub, at thirteen degrees."

It was ten minutes later, as I was leaving the grocery, that some thirty-something guy ravishing his cell-phone would collide with me, bounce off, and walk on into the store without ever looking up. Who th' fuck are you even talking to at that hour on a Sunday? I have survived some horrible contagions in my life--disco, Ronald Reagan, Friends--but cell phones are worse than any of 'em. Okay, except Reagan. I do not get it. I cannot say that enough. If the doctor was calling me Sunday at 7AM to tell me the tests were negative and I could keep my testicles I'd tell him to call back during business hours.

I came home figurin' that bird had a pretty sweet set-up, considering.

They're started doing roadwork on a section of I-70 downtown, and they closed a couple of exchanges Monday, giving the local news hairdos another chance to wail on the Doomsday whistle. The DOT, another government agency Mitch "Lolipop Guild" Daniels has freed from the concerns of government interference, has done what American entrepreneurship does best: it gave a crappy product a snappy name that test-marketed well. So fourteen times per half-hour segment one of the hairdos now spits out some already digested info, not about "the I-70 construction project" or "the massive snarl-up on the interstate", but about the Super 70 Project. Get it? It's Super! It's Super Absorbent! Super Size It! Justice League Seal of Approval! Swear to God, one of 'em used the phrase twice in one simple declarative sentence.

I've figured out why the modern newscast requires four regular anchors, four subanchors, eighteen weather dramatizers, and countless field reporters, just to relay the same eight-point-four minutes of news over the course of four hours daily: it's because everybody not on camera is on his or her cell phone.

And these are the same people (one of whom did a story toss two weeks ago that included the phrase "New Way Forward in Iraq") aping heartfelt concern over the vidclips of the Armed Services Committee Walter Reed hearings they had to introduce yesterday. One called the hearings "very intense". You know when they break out the adjectival intensifiers for their milky blandishments they're serious!

Very intense! The news as brought to you by Emilio Estavez in Repo Man. What she meant, of course, was, "You might want to look away, or else you'll catch a glimpse of men who lost 25% of their superior cranial surface area fighting a meaningless war half of you supported by putting out yard signs. And then were treated like shit when they got home, lest any of you be given pause by the amount of money we were spending so a drunken frat boy you, a once free and proud people, actually elected President, could work out his Daddy issues. In fact, you might want to run, far, far away, as if you can ever get away from yourself."

Is it even necessary to add that thousands more Americans are bound for the same war having had their training cut short so the same Idiot-in-Chief can score points with what's left of his constituency? That they're headed off with less than the nominal equipment, some of it less than optimal equipment, or that we've known about this for four years now? Or that this sort of thing has been reported for at least half that time? That the Bush administration fucking short-changed the American veteran right out in public, without even bothering with the distracting patter? And that includes every news hairdo now cluck-clucking over "deplorable" conditions? Or that those matters were too very intense for them to report on? New Way Forward. Fuck you. Very.

I had originally intended to work Holy Joe Lieberman's quote from Sunday's Face the Nation into yesterday's Brooks piece, but it's a better fit here. Lieberman bemoaned the fact that we'd "failed in our moral responsibility" to our service men and women. This would be the same Joe Lieberman who said of Abu Gharib that it was moderately deplorable but the Moslems asked for it. I guess we're supposed to believe it's never dawned on the man that some of those injured vets got that way thanks to the recruiting power of that hands-off attitude, just as it never dawned on Bob Schieffer to ask Holy Joe--the reliable bipartisan voice for the Blinders On strategy--how it is he missed the moral outrage before a ton of it fell on his head.

Never trust a public moralist, and never trust someone who will take money to call a public shame "very intense". When the people who have bought and sold the War on Terra are leading the charge to flush out the sewers, not cashier a few general officers and see if that appeases the crowd; when Joe Lieberman's moral outrage leads to his resignation, when the right wing noise machine apologizes to John Murtha, when the Mighty Wurlitzer blows a fuse--then they can cry real tears, and then we can believe 'em. You could have stopped this shit as it was happening. And wouldn't that have been Super!


Anonymous said...

Magnificent. I'm beginning to think that our own local news hairdos use Tom Tomorrow cartoons as a script. But I have to say, I LIVE for those surreal, microcosmic moments when they attempt to speak to each other "ad libitum." I love the "Thank you, Chuck" and "Great story!" ejaculations, the histrionic "So tragic..." and "Two children dead...Such a sad story" emotoids, the latter leading to instantaneous Episilon Semi-Moron relief at "Now here's Dr. G. and the weather!" And I love the furrowed-brow "Did he tell you what his plans are now, Bob?" soundbite questions about the DNA-freed Death Row inmate and the dramatic turn to camera "He said that he just wants to get on with his life, Sue" soundbite answers.

It's the bestest performance art there is.

simon l. vesicle said...

Stumbled acroos this whilst dr***. Exc**ment. I mean, exc***ent

punkinsmom said...

You, Doghouse, are Super.