Monday, December 28

With A Capital T

IF there's anything we learn at the close of Advent, over and over and over, it's that Crap is the one thing that's always in style, that Crap actually informs the further production of Crap (i.e., today's Crap is a crapier version of yesterday's), and that post-Industrial society has a desperate need to entice the young into the worship of Crap as early as possible, lest they grow up knowing the difference.

Extrapolating from my family, anyway.

It was damn-near impossible by Friday night to separate the screaming, battery-operated consumer wallow I'd just endured from the hysterical NBC News pitchmen desperately trying to entice last-minute Boxing Day (Canada) shoppers with discounted al-Qaeda and Pope Assassination remnants.

Maybe it's just me, but if we're so intent on fighting a War on Terra, perhaps we could begin with not helping the agents of terror spread, well, terror. No one with a cursory experience of such things expects The Press to actually remain calm and report established facts only; but what NBC (if I'm unfairly tarring the other nets here, let me say sincerely that I fucking doubt it) was engaged in Friday night was an ad campaign disguised as news, yet another suggestion that the massive failures of the Bush administration now serve as corporate/government templates.

Crazy guy from Nigeria sets leg on fire, claims al-Qaeda told him to! And maybe they did, but for the Love of Spam, how does anyone believe anything a Nigerian says without independent collaboration? Of course, if you were one of literally dozens of Americans who regularly reads the papers, and if you backed that up by reading ten paragraphs into the Times story the next day, you'd'a heard from a suitably anonymous federal official that there was a possibility the claim was aspirational rather than real, which is like waiting ten graphs to have a 700 Club official, on condition of anonymity, admit it was theoretically possible Jebus didn't actually aim Hurricane Katrina at Nawlins just because of the gays.

Of course there's no question why the Qaeda™ Brand would be so attractive to the aspirational human torch, shampoo bomber, or pizza-box booby-trapiste: infomercials.

The Flight 253 story was helpfully illustrated with crazy pictures of crazy Richard Reid, the convicted 2001 shoe bomber, whose al-Qaeda-assisted incompetence was revealed by Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, the former al-Qaeda #2 man who was "questioned" in "Oman", or "Amman", or "Canada", and who also revealed that fiendish al-Qaeda turbulence that brought down that airliner in Queens; evidently Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab hadn't had time to get his Islamic Glamour Shots back. The technique continued when the Potential but Bumped Wall-to-Waller of the Islamo-atheist attack on the Pope called out the clips of some other guy shooting some other Pope, on the grounds that this was much cooler.

The woman turned out to be a Pope-crazed fangirl, not a terrorist, and so was unfairly locked up in the nuthouse (Italian cassia delle castagne) for daring to live the dream of the other 200,000 people in the crowd. The interesting thing, though, was that while the attack had occurred twenty-fours hours earlier, NBC was still left to speculate about the possibility of Evil intent motivating the same crazy woman who'd tried to rush this Ratzenberger guy a year earlier while wearing the same bright red sweatshirt. I guess they didn't have time to check.

[Not coincidentally, in searching for actual entertainment to replace last night's gridiron "contest" between the Washington (DC) Redskins and the Dallas (TX) Palefaces, I accidentally ingested five minutes of some History Channel, or National Geographic Network, or some similar Perpetual Horoscope of the Airwaves, program promising to unleash historians and other scholars on the question of Biblical history. What this apparently entails, so far as The Channel Formerly Known As History is concerned, is checking the Rolodex for people with advanced degrees in Explaining Biblical Nonsense Away. I happened upon an "exposé" of Exodus; it turned out I wasn't interested enough to see if they were doing the whole thing in order. I got there just as Moses had been banished to Midian, and what happened next explains a lot about our news coverage.

There's not a scrap of evidence for Midian, which might give your average scholar pause, but this is teevee. Based on the burning bush episode, which happened on Mount Horeb, a geographic feature remarkable for its ability to pick up and move to wherever Biblical apologists need it to be, we proceed from the assumption that the tale must be describing something literally true, even though the misapprehension of a real physical event would seem to defeat the purpose of insisting on literal truth in the first place. We speculate that the heat source was a volcanic vent; we locate the nearest such vents (in the mountains of Araby); voilà! we've found Midian. Meanwhile, we've found our bush, which happens to be a tree, an acacia which is the most fire-resistant thing in Midian, and we take a blowtorch to one. And through some theological argument I wasn't equipped to follow, we proved that it being reduced to ash was somehow distinct from being "consumed".

Have you followed any of that? Could you explain it to me? So far as I could tell it is metaphysically preferable to have the authors of the Pentateuch, the most learned people of their era, unable to recognize where the heat from a volcanic vent is coming from or to distinguish tree from bramble, ignorant of the burning properties of the local flora, and so simple as to imagine something reduced to ash had not burned, than to admit the great foundation of Western literature occasionally indulges in poetry.]

So a woman--all this is obvious at videophone resolutions--jumps a barrier and is bullrushed, somewhat belatedly, by Il Papa's security detail, but manages to get a hold of him and drags him down with her. And a day later this is still being described as a possible assault. But I guess we should be thankful she's in a mental hospital, considering these are the people who took two centuries to take Galileo off the Index. The Church of Rome, I mean; for all I know NBC is still debating the issue.


Dr. Harl Delos said...

Sixteen stitches put her right and her dad said: "Don't say I didn't warn You". Sally got married to a rock musician She met in California.
Tommy always talks about the day the disciples all went wild! Sally still carries a scar on her cheek to remind her of his smile.

She knew from the start deep down in her heart that she and Tommy were worlds apart... but her Mother said "Never mind your part is to be... what you'll be".

Kathy said...

??? re the above. I hope I don't sound as stupid as that guy.

It appears that History and other "educational' channels are trying to use Scientific Method to Prove The Bible is... uh...valid as "real" Science, which everyone knows, hates religion.
There was a perfectly fascinating show on the Jews leaving Egypt (crossing not the Red Sea, but the Reed Sea- that explains a LOT. After stating clearly that Egyptian dating of the time is quite accurate, they based their story's premise on the diaspora taking place a hundred years-or-so different from the Egyptian dating says it happened. Well, it was good for a laugh, or at least a smirk. No contradictory evidence was noted at all.

Grace Nearing said...

Avoid all the faux-academic Biblical programs and revel instead in the gloriously cheesey Jesus movies on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network, what a concept!). Behold a vintage 1950 Raymond Burr as Judas. Behold a vintage 1960 Don Ameche leading the rosary during a prayer break in the broadcast. Behold that character actor from Barney Miller (never did know his name) playing an ancient Semite with a heavy Brooklyn accent.

Doesn't get any better....

Christopher said...

When the Aztecs were migrating from Aztlan to what is now Mexico City, they were guided by their patron god, Huitzilopochtli, who communicated through a relic: A funerary bundle containing his earthly remains.

Just once I would like to see a History Channel special with experts scientifically explaining how all the miracles of the Aztec migration could have occured and trying to find the last resting place of Huitzilopochtli's remains.

I mean, I can't watch those shows without thinking of the unasked question, which is "Why are you so hot to explain and justify these stories, but when it comes to the myths of other people you're happy to shrug your shoulders?"

The answer is money, obviously, but if you're pretending to be a scientific channel you could at least also pretend to have some shame.

Kathy said...

It would be fun to see a program 'investigate' many different creation stories, and try to connect them to real events.

These shows aim to legitimize "creationism' as a science (with stupid people). So, when people hear of yet *another* court case about teaching creationism in schools, they'll think "Gee, I saw a show on the History channel that PROVES the plagues of Egypt really happened just like the bible says, because of a volcano erupted somewhere... or something ... everyone knows god makes volcanos erupt."

Drew said...

I am a divinity student. No one I work with is interested in pinning down the minutiae of literal biblical events. Much greater interest in how the canon formed, when, and why.

scripto said...

You can't beat em. You may as well join in the consumer wallow. Me, I'm the Battery Master. My job is to energize all the electronic crap. Then I get it all going at once. It is quite a feeling of accomplishment. It is important to be good for something.

Kathy said...

I loved the Moses/Egyptian plagues/Reed Sea crossing. I laughed and clapped all thru it. And "Bad Women in the Bible" was fun. Why didn't the nuns teach us THAT, instead of the white-soul stained by sin stuff. Boooring.

sigyn said...

"...but when it comes to the myths of other people..."

Although to be fair,iirc, the movie 2010 inspired similar crap on tv. Or were they trying to be reassuring?

I've always admired the re-cycling aspect of MesoAmerican and Nordic mythologies; and I wonder why, in two thousand years, none of the Christian apocalyptics have never had the sense to use that as explanation. But no, there they sit on the day after, looking foolish.

Anonymous said...

What else would you expect from channels that show the "Triumphs of the UFO Ghost Hunters" twenty hours a day?