Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy talk blues

Yesterday I had an MRI test, where they insert you into a tube and you listen to what sounds like machine gun fire and other sinister noises as the device pings whatever region of your corpus is a bother. While the lab technicians were readying the MRI machine, I was in a waiting room where CNN was playing on a wall-mounted TV. All in all I preferred the MRI experience, and not only because it is one of the wonders of modern medical diagnosis. CNN did more to set my teeth on edge.


We won't get into CNN's politics. There was nothing political about the news except a brief tape of The Failed Messiah continuing his 3.5-year campaign for a second term. I didn't listen; he probably didn't either. He was talking at a factory in Ohio I think. All that registered on me was "jobs ... jobs ... jobs ... jobs ... ." It reminded me of the description in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 when he and his co-psychos were holed up in a motel room, stoned on some astonishing mixture of drugs, with Nixon on the telly. According to Thompson, he could only make out from the president's speech, "sacrifice ... sacrifice ... sacrifice ... ."

I can't claim to have ignored CNN, though. I have deliberately been without cable TV for so long it was a novelty. Two things I noticed. One was what so many race realists are complaining about: half the people in the ads were blacks. Rather an over-representation for a non-race (race is only a social construct) that is 13 percent of the population. Naturally they all looked middle class or professional, or were sports stars I'd never heard of.


The other thing was the behavior of the news anchors and reporters or commentators. What a lot of happy talk!

You know what happy talk is, right? It used to be mostly on local news programs, where they get finished with the day's shootings and building collapses and the anchors engage in light banter with the weather forecaster or sports reporter.

"Okay! Time to check in with Lew Mandible and see what the skies have for us. How's it, Lew?"

"Great, Jill. Terrific news for all of you who are sick of this balmy spring weather. There's a backlash front heading our way, should be sitting on our heads by tomorrow morning. We can look forward to three days of bat guano mixed with used frying oil raining on us."

"Oh boy, Lew, is that the best you can do for us?"

"Ha ha, Jill, knew you'd be overjoyed!"


Except now this chit-chat seems to be de rigueur for every story that involves cutting away from the anchor to an on-the-scene report. "A shocking story from Lansing, Michigan, where a teenage mutant allegedly blew up a skid row flop house, spreading dirty roomers around town, then allegedly led police on a 400 mph chase in his Citation V until he was finally pulled over to the side of the air by an unmarked UFO. We go now to Marie Scaffoldmaker standing by at the scene of this shocking event. Marie, what can you tell us about this situation, a real shocker?"

Satellite-bounce pause. Marie stares at the camera like a python hypnotizing a bird.

"Hi, Billie! Yes, everyone I spoke with is simply stunned. Absolutely no one was expecting it. This community is in deep shock ... ."

There is very little I enjoy more than not watching TV news. The more I don't watch, the more I love it. Enough to do a little happy talk.



YIH said...

Gotta admit, your blog has gotten funnier lately.
The few times I've seen any TV news it seems like a much more (forced) cheerful version of the final scene of 'Network' but without the ''psychic'' 'to bring you tomorrow's news today' (yet).
When I had an MRI they had a nice touch, you got a set of earmuff-style headphones fed by rubber tubes like a stethoscope. Hardly Hi-Fi, but at least it cut the surreality of the whole experience.
Now to go prove I'm not a robot...

Rick Darby said...


I don't understand. When I write a comment here, there are no watery letters I have to interpret to prove I'm not a robot. Maybe it's different if you are not the blog "owner"?

Yeah, they gave me the headphones too, even allowed me to bring in my own CD to listen to. My mother suggested songs with words, like one of my Sinatra discs. She very sensibly said that it's easier to concentrate on words for distraction.

Had to grab a CD at the last moment and couldn't locate any Sinatra -- with 1,000-plus CDs filed in no order it's hard to put my hand on a particular one. I did find music with words, albeit in German (which I don't understand), J.S. Bach's Motets.

Anonymous said...

Rick you are spot on w/ your observations on the media.

I am tired of living in the United States of Atonement, under surveillance of the thought police. No happy talk from me.

Rick Darby said...

Good on you, Rita!