By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall March 5, 2006 at 4:51AM
I know that everyone is basking in their Spirit Awards/ Academy Awards weekend media frenzy, where the annual rites of naming artists winners and losers and best of the year will continue alongside the secondary cottage industry of criticizing the clothes and hair and make up of attending celebrities. And no matter what I could possibly say, this monolithic distraction, and one in which I certainly participate, will march ever forward, unhindered by objections of irrelevance raised by many Americans who haven't even seen most of the nominees. I'll admit, I love movies and I like to watch them celebrated, to see people whose work I admire recieve the recognition they so truly deserve. Case in point: I am thrilled that Robert Altman will be receiving an honorary Oscar tonight. It is the one moment to which I am truly looking forward and I am hopeful that the montage of his work turns some heads and maybe gets people unfamiliar with him to check out his best work.
That said, there is certainly a dark side to all of this. Lately, I can't help but notice the incredible upswing in entertainment passing itself off as legitimate news. I actually watched a local news anchor here in FL host a round table on the 10:00pm news last week where the topic of discussion was whether or not Paula Abdul was drunk or high on American Idol this past week.
Ok, there is certainly room in society for this type of thing, but as the news rooms of American are used more and more for the purposes of promoting corporate synergy, things just seem to have become more blatantly obvious and so dumbed down. You hear campaign managers for political candidates bemoaning the lack of time on newscasts for the presentation of legitimately important news items, but now that local news has put aside all pretense of bringing us newsworthy information and has become a marketing vehicle for reality TV shows (gotta keep those ratings up!), who is talking in depth about local politics, national issues, or complicated international relations?
It is certainly not the cable news networks, who are as guilty of the crime of irrelevance as the local networks. Think I making too much of nothing? Try this doozy of a story, where CNN actually spent over a minute discussing Starbucks' brave, daring attempt to launch a line of breakfast sandwiches. You've got to be fucking kidding me.
And That's The Way It WAS... Where have all the newsmen gone?
All of this is old news and I know, I know, no one cares and I am a part of the problem, writing about and helping promote movies. Hell, even a film like Goodnight, And Good Luck. illustrates the point for us, showing Edward R. Murrow interviewing Liberace. This is not a new story. Yeah, I know. But let's all try a little experiment, shall we? Tonight, after the Oscars or tomorrow when you wake up and watch your favorite irrelevant network morning show, count the number of times the Oscars are discussed, then count how many times anyone discusses the growing religious violence in Iraq, the president's trip to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan or the supposed plan that was leaked to the press about how the U.S. military in planning to withdraw from Iraq just in time for congressional campaign season. I know, I know... BORING LIBERAL! yeah, yeah.
Anyway. I'll be watching for Altman tonight, but my mind is elsewhere these days. I just don't know where we're headed as a culture. There is no seriousness. There is a hateful dismissal of complex ideas. Intellectuals, thinkers, and artists have been fully marginalized. I don't know how to participate in a society where I share so little with my fellow citizens. What to do...