Flynn Taggart Have a little faith, baby. Have a little faith.

27May/102

A Watershed Event

This is probably one of my favorite Monty Python sketches. Leave it to the Pythons to cram so much silly humor into less than three minutes of television footage.

 

 

20May/102

Crapola News Network

I was flipping through television stations earlier this evening and briefly came across Anderson Cooper on CNN. As the station coalesced on my LCD screen, I caught him saying, "We'll keep you apprised of the oil spill in the Gulf as it happens. We will hold BP and the government accountable for their actions."

Yeah, right. Do the cable news stations really think they still have credibility? Have they managed to convince themselves that the crap spewing from their gaping maws is actually untainted fact? They've misreported, embellished, and twisted so many stories over the past couple of decades that it's almost impossible to tell what's real and what isn't. I can tell you right now that CNN doesn't give a rat's ass about holding BP accountable for the Gulf oil spill. All they care about is their bottom line. They will report this story whichever way nets them the most viewers and the most money.

I've largely stopped watching the news. I get my information as factual tidbits from raw Internet news feeds. And why not? When you think about it, the BP story can be distilled into a single headline: "BP oil rig explodes, oil leaking into Gulf of Mexico, problem yet unresolved." Done. It's not necessary to have a stone-faced reporter, with a pulsing forehead vein, speaking emphatically into a camera while clips of black sludge belching from an underwater vent loops in the background. What the hell does this do for the average US citizen? Nothing. It just whips people into a frenzy, sows fear & panic, and gets them to keep watching.

News, in it's pure form, is dead, folks. The days of Walter Cronkite are far behind us. No longer does television news seek to educate. Instead it seeks to stir up emotion and draw forth primal reflex - a task that is best left to the fiction wizards in Hollywood.

14May/100

Apocalypse Now

What is it about doomsday scenarios that so intrigues the public? Alien invasions, meteors, super volcanos, strange matter, the Mayan calendar... I could center an entire blog post around the gigantic list of apocalyptic visions that society has invented. Why are we so intrigued by that which could destroy everything the human race has achieved over the past half-million years?

Well, there's Hollywood. Filmmakers like to glorify the end of the world. The reoccurring theme is that the human race goes to the brink of extinction only to scrape our way back from the edge. Deep Impact and The Day After Tomorrow come to mind. These "apocalyptic" films, despite being entertaining, aren't very accurate. Plus, they don't really show the end of it all. If people survive, shouldn't they simply be called "disaster movies?" Humans do not go extinct and the Earth is still habitable in the end. If you want a real apocalyptic movie, maybe you should watch 1983's The Day After. It's probably the most hopeless and depressing movie I've ever seen. And that's saying something.

It's no wonder that Hollywood makes so many doomsday movies, as there is no shortage of ideas. I'm almost certain that there exists, somewhere on Earth, a blank room. Within this room resides a half-dozen of our most gifted creative minds, except these savants are not working on cures for disease, limitless clean fuel sources, or solutions to hunger. They serve only to devise ways by which mankind can perish. Each day, they scratch their best idea on a shred of papyrus, encapsulate it, and fire it, via vacuum tube, directly into the pop-culture lexicon. Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich each get a carbon copy.

The oddest part is that society eats this stuff up. We love to hear about ways that death may claim us all - and I'm no exception. From the inevitable (the Sun consuming the Earth in 4-5 billion years) to the wildly imaginative (a zombie plague forcing us to each each others brains), people will actually stand in line to see computer-generated reenactments. Why? My theory is that by gazing into the mirror of mortality, we are able to remind ourselves how precarious our lives are. Remembering that the world could be shattered by a colossal chunk of iron speeding through the void of space works wonders at keeping us humble. It teaches us that our family, friends, careers, high-definition televisions, sports cars, and the air we breathe is superfluous. Somewhere deep inside, we need this information because it helps us build perspective. To know pleasure, we must also know pain.