Comfort – knowing you are aware of your surroundings, and also solid warm filling food, like hot mashed potatoes made with butter and milk. Seriously, is there anything else we really need? Well, apparently there is, and we have too much of it at that.
Last night I was transferring an old VHS television show to DVD, as a humorous accompaniment to our family Christmas card. As I scanned through it, I stopped in shock and awe, and no, Arthur Kent wasn’t there, but it was news related. 1978 jumped off my computer screen in the form of a CBS evening newsbreak with Lesley Stahl (big hair and all). She sat behind a desk, which resembled a stage prop from something in summer stock north of Ohio. Her delivery was matter of fact and really no more than thesis statements for 5 top stories. There was no Diamond Vision, green screen, audio feed or political snide comment, which of course never represents the views of the station. In other words, Don Henley would hang the decapitated head in shame. I have to admit, her 45 second spot left me stunned – which was news.
It appears we have become so accustom to Pomme Frites, that when we are given French Fries it is a shock. Akin to newscasters delivering news only, and not mentioning their personal lives, as they sit in multi-million dollar sets, in wardrobe and makeup exceeding the annual income of 40% of their viewing audience. Ironic really – the only time I can remember a broadcaster and his accoutrements, was Walter Cronkite removing his black plastic frame glasses, while he solemnly announced the death of President Kennedy. Do we find comfort in all of this? It’s not news to realize where our innocence went, and how our once soft edges became honed knife sharp towards life – it is just sad.
A friend of mine commented this week she was reading a 1996 book about the Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate murder spree of 1957. I remember this well, and not just because my mother was from Lincoln, Nebraska and it was a mental comfort zone where grandma had German Chocolate cake waiting for us, along with mashed potatoes. The stark mental visual of killing a family in unlocked door USA, and the panic wondering where they might be along the landscape of our minds and the Midwest, was more vivid than any HD screen. I would be willing to bet that this along with my father being a policeman was the catalyst for my love of writing and the criminal mind.
The daily show is news is on every channel of television, some 24/7, Twitter alerts, Face Book, and Internet updates that Drudge up reports, stories and pictures hourly, with reporters who literally get into bed with the victims! Seriously, sitting thisclosetoavictim asking how they are feeling after their life has been destroyed, is so common that not to see it would be – well, Lesley Stahl in her white cowl neck sweater, something uncomfortable for the masses.
How different life would have developed, if this state of affairs and style of news reporting had always been available during the lowest moments of our lives. Would the Holocaust have been reported and been as passed over easily as ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Would we have watched Pearl Harbor between commercials for sitcoms and music award shows? Would someone have set up an occupy style protest? The sacrilegious quick glimpses of Viet Nam that did peek into the changing world of my youth, still haunt me, and that was nothing compared to what later generations have grown accustom to seeing. I still see in my adult mind the day Desert Storm started, alone in my office, looking at the television, while bombs exploded in a country thousands of people away. Bright white and yellow flashes that normally would have been warm comforting colors punctuated humanity. I knew my daughters lives as well as my own were changed forever.
Our lives have morphed from sitcom situations to reality TV revelations, making sure our families will never be satisfied with what they have, and creature comforts are only recognized as commercials where cats eat from lalique and GPS takes over a car, sending the driver to Jared for diamonds. So as we look objectively at a normal day in the life of ourselves, it isn’t news to see how jaded we have become and how the over saturation of knowledge has left us stupid.
Theme music doesn’t deliver news to me, and those reporting should do it for fact and not Emmy nominations, and needing to broadcast moments such as the funeral of a child, are a blasphemy that will never have a decent explanation. Dorothea Lange made the first foot print in this direction, with her photos during the depression, but in our humble innocence we reacted from compassion and an honest realization that there but for the grace of God…….. Life does bring news – but news is not always life.
My rose colored glasses disappeared some place along with Janis and Bobby McGee, a few Doors from The Ed Sullivan Show a long time ago. So I’ll put on the thick black plastic ones I tucked away, to make sure I always remember how to see the news of life clearly, as well as those in my life who might be out of my reach, but never out of my sight.