The Straw Man

Television has never gotten over itself.  Specifically it has never gotten over the 1960 Presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.  At the time, the great idea was that Nixon lost the debate by wearing a gray suit on black-and-white television.  He did not do it be being a blank, blubbering bundle of nerves.  And of course, he wasn’t a crook until 14 years later.

But anyway, back to the point, television has never gotten over itself.

Our current crop of media geniuses work for the very corporations that support Mitt Romney, so after last night’s disastrous performance by their hero, they are still searching for reasons why he won…or why, if Obama actually did win, it was, in the words of one media pundit, “too little too late.”

A hyper-conservative online friend of mine echoed this last night, saying something to the effect that “this was Obama’s last stand,” and “the majority (in some poll) feel that Romney is the one who will correct the economy.”

I thought, “Really?  How, dear?  By repeating and intensifying the mistakes of the last 30 years?  Doesn’t repeating a mistake just make it worse?   And what about all those charts and figures that show how the economy tends to worsen under a Republican president and get better under a Democratic one?  Explain.”

Of course there was no explanation.  Sadder still, this guy’s an economist (an article comes to mind about economists being made ‘stupid’ by their their training; I’ll have to look for it).

But anyway, the point here is this: Obama won — and he won simply by telling the truth and not allowing Romney to stick to his scripted unreality — and the media are having a fit.  This is not in the script, and they don’t know how to deal with it.  I mean, Romney didn’t even wear a gray suit!

Obama did play into their hands by being a snoring sap in debate #1, and at least one media wag now says that’s when he lost the election.  This debate means nothing.  Nothing, I tell you.  (And I daresay if Obama hadn’t slept through the first debate, that debate would have meant nothing, either!)

And to this wag I say, “I had no idea it was already November, darling.  And I don’t have a crystal ball, either.  But I do know better than to do two things: (1) predict this election based on anything at all I hear in the media, which has gone from chortling about gray suits on black-and-white TV to creating an entire universe devoid of reality, and (2) repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years.”

To my eyes, Romney is nothing but another George W. Bush.  George W. Bush was the perfected incarnation of Ronald Reagan: a stupid, arrogant, bullying figurehead for shadowy corporate overlords.  Straw men, if you will.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will put up a headline stating that “the jobs are going away and they aren’t coming back,” and not offer a solution.  Then they will blame the victims.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will prattle on about “small government,” and then regulate the hell out of women’s bodies.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will convince us to get into yet another war…because someone, long ago, noticed that we only got out of the 1930’s depression by going to war.  No matter that it hasn’t worked since.  We gotta get our hands on all that oil!

We can’t go there again.  Obama is our only choice.  If we elect Romney, we die.

Stupid of the Day awards all the way around to everyone who supports Romney.  It’s on me.

Priced out of media?

A relative of mine who is involved in radio warned us several years ago that the way things are going, free radio will become a thing of the past before long. 

As for myself, I remember warning my readers about the same thing upon discovering, when U.S. television finally went digital 6 months back, that there were numerous new free channels to watch.  I just knew it wouldn’t last, and I said so.

Then Comcast bought NBC, and now the planted stories are starting to emerge about how the broadcast networks are losing money hand over fist and NBC itself may cease to exist as a broadcast network.  Mind you, all this came out AFTER Comcast bought NBC.  I’m sure the deal isn’t even final yet, but it’s already starting.

Let me tell you about myself: I rarely listen to the radio and almost never watch TV.  Many people I know are in the same category, and they can’t see the worth of paying for a service they almost never use — yet we are apparently headed in the direction of having to pay for those things.

Here’s my message to the television and radio broadcasters: the free-broadcast system worked for almost a century.  There is no reason it can’t continue to work except that you don’t want it to.

And if you don’t want it to, remember that there are lots of people who very occasionally use your product, but aren’t made out of money and/or don’t want to pay for something they rarely use.  For someone like me, paying for TV turned out to be a waste of money — so much so that I got rid of my satellite box 4 years ago and haven’t missed it. 

I won’t even consider paying for radio.

Once again, broadcasters, keep repeating to yourselves: the public is not made out of money.  The free broadcast system worked well for many many years.  And no, we will not pay for something we don’t really want or need.

And I thought it was just me…

I admit I’m not as far along as the blogger who wrote this.  I still get way too wound up about certain news items, and when I do, it results in a spate of entries on this blog.  Likely this blog wouldn’t even exist if I didn’t.

But when it comes to contemporary pop music, fashion, movies, television shows, etc., I’ve been a dropout since the late 1980’s.  In fact, three or four years ago I finally gave up cable/satellite when I realized I was paying $500 a year for over 120 channels that I was not particularly interested in.  The switch to digital television has at least temporarily confirmed my retreat into the world of no-pay TV, since there are now even more free channels that I don’t watch (so why pay for a bunch more that I don’t watch?). 

I have no doubt, though, that sooner or later someone will make us pay for the extra channels.  At that point, I probably won’t have a TV anymore.  As it is, my TV  is only on about 3 times a week, and then only for an hour or two at a time.

This was not the result of lessons from childhood, when an elderly relative kept our TV on from the moment he got out of bed to the moment he got back in, less the hours he was at work.  He still does, only now it’s worse: he plays the TV and the radio at the same time.  He won’t pay for cable (guess I inherited that from him), so can’t get Fox News.  Instead, the right-wing radio screamers feed steaming crap into his ears while he watches pro wrestling, do-it-youself shows, “reality” shows, and whatever else on TV.  And he’s retired, so his viewing/listening has expanded to about 14 hours a day.  He also loves country music.  Country music gives me a migraine.  I’m not kidding.  All I need to do if I want a migrane is listen to a country music station for about 15 minutes, and then I’m in bed in agony for the rest of the day.

Yes, I know there are other forms of music around.  (Rap, for instance, which is almost as bad.)  In fact I have loved the Beatles from childhood, as well as other musicians.  But music awards shows?  Bah.  Just like the Academy Awards, they are nothing more than events that people wear expensive (and often quite ugly) clothes to.  I never see the movies that are being awarded whatever trophy and I never hear the music that’s being rewarded for sales.  I don’t know Brad and Angie from Jennifer or whoever is the latest burned-out teenage girl singer/actress/drug addict/whatever the hell.  It’s all meaningless to me.

Perhaps my current near medialessness (except for the Internet) is an adverse reaction to my early years, I don’t know.  But for the past few decades, my television viewership/radio listenership has dwindled to only a tiny fraction of that of most people.

This became a problem for me in an office I worked in that was full of Dancing with the Stars and American Idol freaks.  They also watched Oprah whenever they were on vacation.  Suffice it to say that I seldom had anything to add to the conversation there.  I was too busy trying to stay awake and/or keep from snoring.

Worse, during those years there was this morning show on one rock station that I listened to on the way in to work, and all “Shawn and Tiffany” talked about was what happened on various reality shows the night before.  One time I actually fell asleep and nearly drove through a red light.  After that, I permanently deleted that station off my pre-set button.

I did once happen in on this relative of mine when he was watching a reality show.  It was something about “models and geeks.” I glanced at it, and the “models” were mere pretty girls with big plastic boobs and lots of makeup (that is to say, not actually model-like at all unless you’re talking about the cheesecake variety), and the “geeks” similary looked like cliches: tape around the horn-rim glasses, snots hanging from noses, pant legs too short, mismatched patterns, etc.  And of course the “models” were all stupid and the “geeks” were all super-intelligent…where have we seen that  before?  At the beginning of the show, the announcer introduced it as a “social experiment.”  I couldn’t stop laughing for two weeks.  No, dears — a social experiment is a male model falling for a(n ugly) girl.  That you won’t see on any reality show because the “social scientists” in the programming departments don’t want to look at pretty boys with ugly girls, not even in the fantasy land of reality TV shows.

But honestly, I worry about people who watch shit like that.  I wonder if it corrodes their brains.  I also wonder if it is now impossible to make a list of merely 10 worst television programs of all time.

There was a study that concluded that only far right-wingers and left-wingers tend to be media drop-outs.  I don’t agree with that, since the far right in particular tends to use media as a sort of painkiller to block out the truth (if this weren’t true, Fox News would not exist).  I have observed this myself.  I think that what’s going on with me may be widespread across the spectrum.

But in the end, I don’t care.  My years working in the health field taught me that most studies are garbage, anyway.  The only media study I give a lot of credence to is the one that concluded that people who watch TV excessively tend to be fearful.  Well yeah.  I could have told you that myself without the time and expense of a study.  I’ve seen it first-hand.

These days, I only know what I see or hear.  And I don’t see or hear much in the way of movies, music, TV or radio.  I’ve honestly never seen Oprah, American Idol, or Dancing with the Stars.  I don’t watch awards shows.  I can’t name 3/4’s of the musicians I hear on the radio.  I seldom see a movie. 

And I don’t think I’m missing anything.