Monday, January 30, 2012
The New Wall
"We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control."
Definition of an oxymoron: A false proposition illogically linked to
a true proposition, as if they were one and the same. They're not.
OH YOU CENTRALIANS. A writer should probably be deterred by the fact that his topic has too many possible ledes. I'm not. In current parlance we call it multi-tasking. You know, the idea that a millennial is smarter than his parents because he can do his homework while watching a streaming video, posting to Facebook, texting his friends, taking the intermittent voice call, smoking some weed, and watching "Are You There, Chelsea?" on TV.
Well, I was multi-tasking before the millennials were, and here are the ledes for this post. 1) In the crevasse between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl, is it possible to find some sport to watch? 2) Does NBC have an actual death wish? 3) Is it time to measure the impact of the utter collapse of mass media in terms of competency, literacy, and even basic standards of journalism? 4) Just how insane are the lefties who presume to be the superiors of ordinary Americans? 5) If you ever needed absolute proof of the corruption of the post-American intelligentsia, I have found it. 6) I have been criticized for advocating knowledge of history and for watching too much TV: What if the latter proves the value of the former? 7) We are now living in an utterly contextless, continuously present-tense society our children are hopelessly unprepared to defend themselves against. 8) You know, the real value of history is that it provides a standard of measure by which we can distinguish quality from crap. 9) There's something called sportsmanship, a by-product of an obsolete thing called a gentleman; amazingly, it's still clinging to life. 10) Screw the Fox News Channel; they're exactly as transparently corrupt as everyone else.
A multi-tasking millennial might be able to follow the multiple stories that flow from these ledes. This and this and this. Aha. Whatever. But I'm going to do what they can never do. I'm going to integrate them all into a single post that makes sense as a whole. Doubt it? Watch.
My wife was exhausted after a work ordeal I needn't describe that left her listless and borderline ill by the time the weekend arrived. We were scheduled to have an outing with our 3-year-old granddaughter, but she came down with an earache. And I got bad personal news from a close friend. A final blow to the energy levels. So we watched TV instead. Her Ravens were out of the NFL running (another blow), but there have to be some sports to watch in the long gap between conference championships and the Super Bowl. And in reserve, we had a DVD, a recent revisitation of a BBC series she'd always enjoyed called "Cracker." We were also armed with Netflix access, our iPhones, providing instantaneous entree to the febrile yet constantly information-rich environment of the Internet. In short, we were prepared to be entertained. (Forget books: between us, we've read all the great ones and Kindle feeds us with any promising new ones, of which there are, well, few.)
The first thing we found was Tiger's Abu Dhabi run. He was leading after three rounds. You could see it live if you got up at three in the morning, pretty much like the Australian Tennis Open. We're not that hard core. And Tiger lost anyway, to the immense satisfaction of ESPN. (Why? Their stable of jocks never cheats on their wives? Or is just fun to see the best destroyed unless they're an old wreck named Brett Favre.) Which leads to NBC sports and, TA DA, figure skating. The Lady has always been a fan of figure skating, although not that much a fan of Americans of late, because with the exception of ice dancers, they have come to SUCK. The Saturday broadcast, though, featured women's singles and ice dancers. (A good get by me.) When we tuned in, the women's singles were done and the announcers were Scott Hamilton and some chick who actually made an attempt to tell us what music the ice dancers were dancing to: "Dee Flee-der-mouse" and "Chopin Pree-lude Number..." whatever. We looked at each other. How does this happen? Easy. Cultural literacy is dead, even when it's relevant to your own area of "expertise." Little did we know that things would get worse on Sunday. We thought we had been inattentive or confused about what the next step was for the American ice dancers, who are the only remaining U.S. contenders for World and Olympic honors. We're not as young as we once were. And via her iPhone, the Lady revisited the great ice dancers of the past to our mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.
Then something odd happened. No more sports. (Unless you count the swirling skirts of college basketball, men's and women's, in which we're both supposed to have a dog in the hunt.¬† Hell, both Harvard and the Rutgers women are ranked in the top 25, but for some reason we didn't want to see them spinnakering around the court.) Instead we found a movie called Blades of Glory we'd both avoided just as we'd avoided Napoleon Dynamite, which Monica insisted we would like. She was right. So we watched it. Blades of Glory, too. We laughed. Hard. I confess. I was the one who didn't entirely get over it. There was, shall we say, a hangover.
We got up early next morning. Pro-Bowl Day. the centerpiece of the NBC Sunday primetime broadcast, don't you know, but before that more figure skating on NBC. And the NHL All-Star game, to be broadcast on the brand new NBC sports channel. All right. Not great. But we spent part of the morning cleaning the house, grappling with cats and sighthounds and so forth, and then we settled in for the figure skating pairs and men's finals.
This is where the integration I promised starts to kick in. Sometimes having a sense of humor is a curse. You start laughing and you can't stop. For hours, if not days. Everything starts to become part of a huge tsunami-like punchline that just rolls and rolls and rolls. Truth is, it's only beginning to ebb now, when I consider why I was so convulsed. Why I won't talk about the pairs competition after Blades of Glory. Doubt if I could hold it together for a full paragraph. What I will say: No 'Iron Lotus.'
[Sorry if this seems long. It's deliberate. I'm scraping off the short-attention span folks. Multi-tasking also means following a thread. However far it winds. Don't think you I-babies can do that. Your first response will be to say that I don't get to the point. As well as, say, Kanye West. Right.]
The NBC coverage of the men's finals began with Johnny Weir, dressed like Cruella DeVil and promising a comeback to honor his fans, supporters, and his new husband. Okay.Then to Scott Hamilton and whatever generic NBC play-by-play announcer had drawn the short straw. Honest to God, I can't tell you who he was, though his voice was annoyingly familiar.
We learned that the U.S. Nationals would determine who represented the U.S. at the World Championships. Only two would go. The Bronze Medal was a ticket home to plan for next year. Next we learned that competition in the Worlds was all about the quadruple jump. No quad, no chance.
They showed us eight men's singles competitors. What I didn't learn: Where the hell we were in the competitive figure skating season, which events had been completed and which were left (early, late, huh? No past, no future -- perfect), what any of this has to do with the Olympics, what makes the triple-axle the hardest of the triple jumps, why is a triple toe-loop easy, what music any competitor was performing to, what the costume rules are (and why -- Is Bette Midler involved?), what the difference in difficulty is among any of the standard maneuvers, where the hell we've been performing of late in world competitions. What I did learn: No quad, no chance on the world stage; no quad, no chance; no quad, no chance. Also, this guy and this guy are beautiful, talented skaters who just have to get more consistent (i.e., quit falling on their ass so much.). Scott Hamilton's gushiness was apparently supposed to cover a complete absence of information. At the last there were confusing references to both the "Worlds" and the "Four Continents" competitions. WTF? NBC considers this sports coverage.
When the uncontrollable fits of laughter began to attack me. Eight men's singles skaters. The quad is always the first jump. It requires the most effort. It has to be done early in the long routine. Since they wouldn't define for me what a quad jump was, I had to infer my own. There are only two kinds of quad jumps: the Quad Butt Smash and the Quad Face Plant. All five of the first American men accomplished one of these. What's the problem? The last one did a jump without hitting the ice? Is that allowed? And is it enough to show up at the Olympics? NBC will never tell. They think everything is a joke. Including us.
Which brings us to the Pro-Bowl. An even bigger joke. NBC opening the coat. The most outright expression of pure contempt American sports fans will ever see. Hundreds of millions of advertising revenue. Of content, nothing. Smug all-stars laughing with one another and tweeting on the sidelines as the offensive and defensive lines simply hold hands.
In and amongst and between, commercials advertising NBC shows, including an NFL special offering honorifics and starring -- Alec Baldwin. How dumb do you have to be not to understand that you amputate half your audience when you feature a wild lefty boor who curses his own daughter, gets thrown off an airplane for being an an obnoxious uppity asshole, and thinks he should should run for office as an Obama rubber stamp? You'd have to be NBC. "I'm a huge corporation that would rather be politically correct than attract an audience I pretend doesn't matter I've cut in half from the git-go. I'm a business genius."
Right. Here's the NBC primetime lineup. It's actually impossible to imagine anything more vulgar, nihilistic, and humorless than the spiffs of NBC New York think we all want to see. It's not so much that they underestimate us. It's that they actually despise us so much they can't see how much it's sabotaging what should be business sense.
You see. And sorry to break it to you. Liberals (so-called) are the most irrational people on earth. They will cut their own throats to prove a point they have accepted without serious thought. Key for you and me to understand is that they're NOT thinking. They're just superior. I wrote this, and the specific individual I wrote it to could not recognize himself in my analysis, though he fulfilled every jot and tittle of my description. He had one degree more than I had. And he had lived among the New England elect for a lifetime.
He's a member of the aristocratic mass media. He rejects the notion of liberal bias. Because if we see it, we're being, you know, paranoid.
Except that, well, everything we know and trust is being turned against us, including even sports and light comedy. It's all gotta be gay, politically correct, and left-leaning. My learned friend aside, there is no more journalism. On any side. Gingrich was right to call the MSM on gotcha questioning. All the other Republicans should be thanking him for calling a spade a spade. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, NYT, etc, etc, will never relent in their attempt to make Republicans look like racist, child-killing plutocrats. Will they thank Gingrich? No. Even Fox News is dedicated to killing him off, killing him dead, because the Republican establishment wants, uh, Romney. This morning's Fox & Friends was a flat-out disgrace, as MSNBC as anything Rachel Maddow does. Only with Steve Doocy's smug smile sitting on top.
There are no more journalists. Drudge and Hotair have joined the Gingrich gangbang. The New Media are subject to the same temptations as the Old Media. What would those be? Fame, credibility, guest appearances on TV, column and book contracts (Malkin likes me, she really likes me...). Good luck with that, Ed. Just don't get too far from where the smart guys say the game is being played. But you knew that already.
Which we said a long time ago.¬† We'd side with the Paulistas except that you can't bow out of the world. Sadly, we too would prefer to be completely anonymous on such a world stage. But we just can't.
Yet apparently you can't bow out of a lifetime of miseducation. The Boomers who are running things really do hate America. Like the president they protect so reflexively.
The antidote is to educate the uneducated. But the uneducated think they know enough to get by.
In which case we're cooked. What are the beltway geniuses doing?
"Smug all-stars laughing with one another and tweeting on the sidelines as the offensive and defensive lines simply hold hands."
Do you gather that the Lady and I bailed at some point on the Pro Bowl (and the NHL contest between the Charos and the Heffalumps -- who gives a shit if regions and divisions are politically¬† incorrect?)¬† So we defaulted to "Cracker: 9/11," the only time I've ever had to tell my wife she was flat out fucking wrong. Sometimes Brit writers are nothing but assholes, including the one who penned this lavishly overpraised series.
[I invite you to watch it. The most irrationally virulent anti-American screed you're ever likely to see in the guise of fiction. The Brits and other fans thought this was entertaining. Really? Shows you who the Brits have become.]
But there's always a purpose. Watch it. You'll see why we can never trust the Brits again. They've gone fucking crazy in denial of their own moral responsibility for anything that happens south of Scotland and east of Ireland. Good luck with that.
THE BRIGHT SPOT: If you did get up at 3 am in the morning, you got to see Nadal vs. Jokovich. Reminiscent of Ali-Frazier, a stupendous confrontation of skill and character that will likely make the Super Bowl look small. You can look it all up. The glory of the Internet. The only thing I'll draw your attention to is this: Late in the critical fifth set, a ball hit by Jokovich was called out to Nadal's advantage. Jokovich challenged, but according to the rules the point had to be replayed when he was proven right. Nadal immediately hit the next serve out of bounds, conceding the point. We really need to stop playing every point to the death regardless of who's right or wrong. Nadal did. Coolest outcome of all. Nobody mentioned that Nadal did that. It was just honor, expected and fulfilled.
Honor. Long gone from the media in general and journalism in particular. Even from the Columbia J-School grads. But they'll be the last to recognize it. They're probably among those quibbling about the Pro-Bowl farce. Because, you know, like everyone else, they expect to be entertained, even if they can no longer reliably spell the word. "Hey, teacher, leave them [stars] alone."
Did I miss anything?