Yesterday, in Part I of this article, I shared a dream I recently had about being visited by an alien (“Proxi”) from the nearest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri. As (I hope) you will recall, after watching the late night news on my living room TV set, Proxi asked me, “What did you say you call this stuff?”
To which I replied, “IT’S WHAT WE CALL THE NEWS!”
“News?” he queried. “This is news on your planet?”
Embarrassed, I said, “Well, let’s just say it’s news that’s been a bit manufactured. “But,” I hastened to add in defense of my fellow earthlings, “people love it.”
I went on to explain that with cable stations operating worldwide around the clock, there is an insatiable need for “product.” And quality “product” — such things as medical breakthroughs, explorations of philosophical questions concerning the nature of our existence, etc. — bore people to death.
With some trepidation, I added, “If you want to attract the guy who’s guzzling his sixth Bud Light of the evening and polishing off an extra-large bag of taco chips, you’ve got to find something to pull him away from ESPN’s nonstop glorification of thuggery.
“Thankfully, 9/11s and school shootings don’t happen that frequently, so television programmers have to fill those long, non-real-news voids with stuff that will excite their viewing audience. The aim is to inspire that beer-guzzling, taco-munching intellectual to call out to his wife, ‘Hey, Maude, come look at this. A guy’s climbin’ up the side of a building like Spiderman. Ain’t that a hoot?’”
Hmm … that one seemed to go right over Proxi’s head.
So I tried to recapture his attention by explaining to him that market-based economies work. The creators of TV news give us the news we want, because that’s the only way they can make money.
At that point, Proxi threw up his limbs in exasperation and said, “Thanks, but I can’t take any more of this. I’m outta here.” And with that, he walked right through the wall, climbed into a waiting spaceship, and off he went.
But I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight, “Home, James.” And with that, I awoke … dripping with sweat and hyperventilating. Relieved to realize that it was only a dream, I picked up the remote and turned on the television in my bedroom to get a quick fix. Holy cow — Proxi was on TV!
Whoops … false alarm … it wasn’t Proxi after all. It was his lookalike, Don Imus. I felt a tremendous sense of relief and security, knowing that I was back on familiar ground, watching the Imus saga being debated by a panel of experts — for the fiftieth time. I love this stuff … don’t you?
P.S. If you are concerned about how to keep your sanity while watching fecal-laced “news,” here’s a possible solution: When all else fails, laugh! It’s healthy to laugh at this manufactured gibberish, because laughter acts as an antidote against gradually getting sucked into taking it seriously.
So now, if you are ready to put the news in perspective and get a good chuckle in the process, I invite you to visit www.jibjab.com. You’ll like what you see and hear. Yep, it’s “WHAT WE CALL THE NEWS!”