We love to watch the news. I love to watch the news. But there are some things about it that I don’t like. No mainstream news organization around will admit that, in most places, violent crime has been on a downturn. They’d rather sell you the exploitations of some good American family whose hard working father got laid off, and he decided to kill everyone in his house.
Just now I turned on the news and the story was about a little girl being murdered by her mother, preceded by a show that interviewed a deaf actress who is an ex-drug addict, followed by a family, all happy, with eighteen kids.
The feel-good story at the end is important. We need to see pets saving lives and community outreach programs that got an ex-con back on track. To leave the viewer crippled with fear at the end would be to go against what Hollywood found out many years ago-people like happy endings.
And animals. We seem to like them better than we like humans. Obama’s dog, rescuing pets from floods and burning buildings, and the big cheese of animal stories, people abusing animals, are important to news organizations. What if someone from space, like a little alien or God, is watching us? I’m sure they feel bad for the animal, we all do, but what could they possibly think about millions of people who can empathize more with a puppy than with their own kind?
There was a lady who jumped into a polar bear cage during feeding time. Stupidity turned violent is always perfect news story, and that one had animals, someone’s life in danger, carnage, and a rescue. They reeled her up the side wall with a polar bear attached to her behind while someone taped it all. In the United States, we consider showing on the news carnage poor taste unless someone does something stupid. Then people laugh.
Do you remember in the 1990’s when our country wasn’t in crisis and we weren’t obsessed with the end of the world? We all had to endure, while sickly enjoying, the William Kennedy rape case where we heard about a drunken Ted Kennedy roaming his Palm Beach home, drunk, in nothing but a shirt. Let that image settle in your head. Then the love life of Bill Clinton threatened our nation while O.J. Simpson shed his human skin and became a killer animal whose gloveless hands could squeeze ratings from someone’s skull.
We didn’t start getting threatened as a people until reporters found out that the computer geeks had potentially caused the end of the world by not caring enough to put in the full date in their programs. On January 1, 2000, every computer, instead of thinking it was the year 2000, would think that it was 1900, and the microchips would immediately fry themselves, leaving us with no power grid, and sending the world back into the eighteenth century. Not exactly, but that was close to what people believed.
I’m not blaming the news media entirely. They just report on what gets ratings, and we love drama, real or imagined. We like feel good movies, but when is the last time one was breaking box office records? It wouldn’t stand a chance beside The Dark Knight or The Godfather or even Taxi Driver. Imagine Little Miss Sunshine going against a movie like Pulp Fiction.
In the end, the news is necessary. If TVs go away, people will just write songs about labor strikes. People want to hear about drama. They always have. We always have. No one is immune. I’m certainly not. I’m writing this, and I’m aware that if they videotape another lady getting mauled by another bear, I’ll probably watch it. Oh well. Everything is ok. Wait, global warming?