Sunday, October 24, 2010

Do You See What I See?

Journalism as theater is what TV news is.
-Thomas Griffith

It's all blurry. Hard to see where we are going and difficult, for some, to see where we've been.
We live in a land of illusion. Nothing is more reflective of this country losing it's way than the blurring of boundaries in TV journalism these days. We can no longer differentiate between public and private, personal and political, and authentic and artificial. TV ads look like TV news shows. TV commentators voice their opinions as if they were fact. Some, like Juan Williams, formerly of NPR and now securely of Fox News, get fired on the spot. Talk about culture wars; maybe subculture wars now.
Seems to me it's fairly easy to separate the pretenders from the genuine article. The wannabe's yell, talk over everyone, spout and sprout venom, and my personal favorite, make a joke out of everything. Case in point: Once, just out of curiosity, I turned down the volume on one of those pseudo newscasts and just watched the body language. Points made verbally were often followed by laughing, wide grins, real schoolyard behavior. If you had to guess what these folks were talking about from this silent viewing, you'd be hard pressed to say it was anything worthwhile.
And now John Stewart, one of the funniest comedians around, wants to lead a political march on Washington. Certainly if Glen Beck can, Stewart should be able to. But what's really going on here? What does that say about the real marches in our historical past?
With 500 cable channels, the opiate of the masses is as widespread and toxic as ever. I reprise the P.T. Barnum quote, "Nobody every went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." In this culture, where over 50% did not read a book last year, where the majority care far more about Dancing with the Stars than the infrastructure of public schools, public roads, or campaign finance, where candidates for national office have not read the Constitution (no really) the illusion reigns.

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