Friday, August 13, 2010

In Defense of Trya Banks and The Destruction of the Human Race

Earth disappoints me. No. That is inaccurate. The only time this planet irritates me is when it decides to swallow up a third-world nation with a big wave or pile of mud or serves up a perfectly healthy baby to a ravenous Dingo. But even then Earth is not necessarily to blame. Who built those towns and cities and shacks where there are guaranteed future-twister-tsunamis? Who let their little baby wander around a wildlife preserve? Who decided to spell the word Sunamy with a silent "t". The human race. People. That's who disappoint me.

More specifically disappoints me. Every day I log onto a computer which has as the home website for the browser. So every day begins with the BP Oil Crisis, Obama's seeming failures, senators fucking up, humans fucking up by potentially sending Linda McMahon to Washington as opposed to the RAW backstage where she and her nefarious family belongs (the CT idiots who watch her ads and are swayed by her statements revolving around job creation and family do not know this woman and her kind. They have not watched wrestling for over a decade. I have. I know her. I've watched Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon shamelessly parade their family around wrestling arenas for years, creating stories that revolve around infidelity and even murder. I've watched her husband make a woman crawl around on all fours in her underwear and bark like a dog in front of millions of people and then make out with that very same woman on a Smackdown stage as Linda McMahon watched "comatose" from a wheelchair. I would rather let Arnold remain "in charge" of California and see the entire state, which I like, slip off into the abyss of the Pacific than see what Linda, Vince, and their troupe of roided up Wrestlers could do to CT and potentially the country), and all of these horrible things, some of which aren't even written about by CNN editors, are glossed over with what I wish I could consider an expertly honed sense of journalistic integrity and neutrality.

But when I see these headlines and dare to read these articles what I find is less expertly crafted anything, and more a hodgepodge of indifferent facts and poorly processed opinions. It's lifeless. Empty. And completely boring. News has clearly crossed over into the entertainment realm (turn on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News and you'll see enough flashy graphics to make the guy that labored over The Matrix credit sequence hang his head in shame), but the only time it's actually entertaining is when the talking heads or the talking articles aren't about anything that actually matters. The notion that "news as entertainment" is a new idea is inaccurate. News has actually always been entertainment. Yellow journalism filled the streets of our major cities for decades upon decades. Newsies like Christian Bale raced through alleys and dank sidewalks peddling papers, screaming headlines at the top of their lungs, handing over the black and white sheets which promised pertinent tales of War and Chaos. It was all so much more entertaining then. It was simultaneously more innocent and less innocent. Today's news tries to be entertainment by focusing stories on entertainment, as opposed to making actual news stories entertaining.

The only time today's news is actually entertaining is when you have two people shouting at each other over whether or not Tyra Banks is being a hypocrite for praising a skinny model.

And if you go on as of 1:15 PM August 13th you will be able to see this.

What is this doing on Certainly it could be filed away in their entertainment section but it is on the front page. Sure, it's located in the likely ignored "Don't Miss" section below the two main articles, but it's still there. On the front page. I like to think that the people creating these news-journal websites think of their websites like newspapers. My knowledge of journalism comes mostly from All The President's Men and The Insider, as well as the two or three times a year I decide to pay attention to the news and fluctuate between MSNBC, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, 60 Minutes (which has gone downhill), and Fox News because I'm a masochist I guess. So I'm no authority on the subject but I do like the idea of it. I like the idea of honor and respect and the flying papers in a Daily Planet-like newsroom. Conspiracy and scandal and two young guys sifting through microfiche to bring down a President. I like the old-fashioned notion that this all started with pertinent news and ideas starting on something tangible and good...something good like paper. Yes. Paper is good. If we could develop a kind that doesn't hurt the trees, sure, I'd be all for it, but until then chop 'em down and give me a good piece of paper. A good piece of paper can and has and will go on changing the world. Paper is the vehicle of expression. Perhaps more important than paper is a pencil, or an implement with which to write. Because, like the cave men who expressed their minds in primitive paintings, eventually when the internet fails we shall be reduced to such simplicity again. This is why the most basic forms of communication shall always remain important and hopefully present, and why I like paper so much.

I like to think that the traditions of a "Page-one-story" are not completely forgotten by the web-designer and that she or he has designed their site with the tenets of traditional newspaper journalism in mind. I'm forced to doubt that this is even possible when "Dr. Laura apologizes for using the N-Word", "Tyra Banks praise for bony model shocks", "Women suffer more with pain" (Really?), "Navarrette: 'Terror babies' scare-tactic" are all headlines you can find on the home/front page of CNN right now.

Again, one could "easily" counter me by saying these are not necessarily the "headline" stories. Alright. What are the two headline stories then, the two big ones that appear in the two big boxes at the top of the page every single day? On the left, and in a suspiciously smaller box than the one on the right, is an actual news story: "Decision on bottom kill may come today". This is an article about the BP Oil Crisis. So what's the next story, in the much bigger, and clearly more important box on the right? "Real-life Eat, Pray, Love Stories".

Oh, Tim, c'mon, you're just being a gloomy Gus here. Clearly you're missing the fact that this is an iReport story so it's naturally going to be nonsensical pointless, celebrity related bullshit that tells you absolutely nothing important about the wars that are going on or the fact that the human race is nearing the brink of their demise.

No, I did not miss this fact. And I would say to anyone that would attempt to counter me about the merit of what CNN has on its front page by telling me that it's not meant to have merit, that you have simply re-stated my very point.

Whenever I talk about movies, video games, books, or television with people there always seems to be someone that says, "Well it's not meant to be that way" or "It's supposed to be that way" in defense of whatever it is we're talking about. So it's supposed to be stupid and that makes it okay? It's supposed to be bad? There are supposed to be beggars and loot players in Assassin's Creed and that makes it a good decision to have them in there? Andy Bernard was meant as a foil to Dwight and that makes his inclusion in the already perfect show necessary? Stephen King is making a point by including himself as a character in The Dark Tower series which means it's a good point? Christian Bale and Chistopher Nolan have a reason for the Batman-voice being so gravely...and because they have a reason at all that means we're supposed to like it?

Yes, it's an iReport story. But why is it on the front page? Why is it that every single day on, in the bigger box, on the right, which is where people will be more likely to stare, is there inevitably, without fail, a story that involves celebrities in some way? Eat, Pray, Love is a fading starlet vehicle meant to suck some green out of the wallets of purposefully unsuspecting women who want to find themselves in the likes of Julia Roberts. Paraphrasing here: I haven't been single since I was fifteen, I deserve a year to myself to Eat, Pray, & Love. You're so pretty that you're able to have a boyfriend whenever you want and I'm supposed to feel sympathy and empathy for you?

Maybe it's a good movie and I may thoroughly enjoy it, but that doesn't change the fact that there are a batch of greedy white men sitting around a table rubbing their hands together like Bond-villains waiting to collect their cash as a result of this "good-decision" movie. And it can't be much different for Roberts who likely has an entourage of people telling her it's a "good decision" to make this, keep your face out there, remind people you're around. It's all so seedy and disgusting. And, for some reason, CNN deems it worthy of the front page. Yes, the article is not necessarily about the movie but it's inspired by the movie and it will attract people who are interested in the movie.

Yesterday the headline asked whether or not celebrities actually help causes and there was a big, beautiful picture of Angelina Jolie needlessly wearing native African garb as she longingly stared at a little boy playing with some rocks. The question was never really answered. I filled my poor brain with the letters and words and thoughts of that article and its creator and walked away with nothing other than despair. The same happened today when I watched this video:

The beautiful woman on the left is actually making a good point, the angry and loud beautiful woman in the middle makes her intentions pretty clear, and the mildly attractive woman on the right is hilariously clear as well. There's a point where the beautiful woman on the left states the obvious truth, that the clip is edited in such a way that you don't see what Tyra says next so you can't judge whether or not she's a hypocrite, and you can hear the angry beautiful woman in the middle become furious and try to stop her from speaking. You will see this everywhere on the so-called news. People shouting to stop someone else from shouting the truth. And it all devolves into something that is funny. But it's not funny in a good way. It's funny in the darkest way possible. It's funny only to those that have, at some point, had the following thought: Is it really that bad if the world ends?

That clip comes from Showbiz Tonight, so it's a news show format that deals exclusively in celebrity news. That's fine. I just don't understand why it belongs on CNN's front page.

I don't know what we can do, friends. It's around this point that I get all positive and suggest a call to action or something to potentially heal the Earth which we are murdering, figuratively with our idiocy and hatred and quite literally with our idiocy and hatred. But I truly don't know. This is how I feel after watching the news or experiencing the news in any way whatsoever. I know I am not alone. It's simply too frustrating and depressing (not because the stories are depressing but because of how vapid and soulless journalism now is) to be "in the know". I am forced into ignorance because to endure these seditious soundbites steals a bit of my soul. It harms me.

I don't want to say we should just give up, turn the TV or computer off, and find some other form of entertainment in the way of lovely video games, edifying books, or our trusty hands. Because soon our generation will be called upon to fix a few mistakes. And we must do our best to seize that opportunity for I am honestly terrified of the two generations that come after us.

Have you spoken to a teenager lately? We are certainly doomed.

Ah, well. Star Trek II and Batman 3 come out in the summer of we'll get to see that at least...

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