Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Local News: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Watching local newscasts (and even national ones, really) is not depressing, as is popularly believed, due to the nature of the news being dispensed, but because of the utter stupidity with which it's being dispensed. In other words, it's not that the massive traffic accident or the tornado-through-downtown is depressing, because that's expected -- it's that the reporter is on the scene fake-emoting all over the place, as if death and destruction are just an excuse for him or her to show off a new hairstyle and whatever acting chops were developed (i.e. none) before they changed their major from theater to broadcasting.

Of course, if you're in the right mindset -- the non-homicidal one -- then local news is fodder for the best laughs around. Deep belly laughs. Life-affirming laughs. I'm writing to you in the wake of such a moment.

Tonight, after the World Series game ended, and before I could reach the remote to change the channel, I caught the opening of New York's Fox News. The lead story (the lead story!) was an all-timer, and as I said above, the actual basis for the content (the recent plane crash that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle) was not funny. But what Fox did with it should guarantee the network a Pulitzer, if only the Pulitzers added a So Dumb We Pity You category.

Keep in mind as you read this that not only is everything I'm recounting accurate, but it was the LEAD STORY.

They fade in talking about how the Yankees are creating a stir with a distasteful gift item. Sounds bad. Turns out the gift in question is a Santa Claus figurine sitting in a small toy airplane festooned with Yankees logos. The hilarity begins with a still shot of the gift, accompanied by Fox's headline: "Plane Distasteful?"

Yes, they were kicking off a discussion of someone else's insensitivity with a horrific pun (horrific, but of course perfectly in keeping with the network's journalistic quality).

It gets better, though if you had seen the Santa plane and the headline across it, you wouldn't believe that possible.

They admit as they go to their "man on the street" that the item is a regular seasonal offering, has nothing to with Lidle (duh), and was created way before the tragedy happened. Cue the man on the street.

He's standing outside a Yankees merchandise shop, and immediately says that, while the item is "not in the store" (naturally), it IS in a catalog, and is causing a hot debate among fans. Cut to interviews of fans with "hot" opinions, which clearly must have been formed after being told of the toy by the reporter, since it wasn't in the store.

The first of the hotly opinionated is a cranky older guy who says such a gift is "off-color" and has "no place at Christmas time."

The second is a younger guy -- and this is where my laughter reached its satisfying peak -- who says, more or less, "It can go either way. On the one hand, it might be meant to, like, honor him (Lidle). (Insert peak laughter here.) But I can see how it would upset some people."

I won't go on about this. I trust that all of you understand how incredible this is, and on how many levels, and why I needed to share it with you in the absence of someone watching it with me. Thanks for listening.


Post a Comment

<< Home