I’m always amused when small stories from across the country get blown up way out of proportion by the national media. As a culture, we seem to revel in the trivial; every little thing captures our interest for a few moments.
When I was growing up, there were only three national television news networks, and they focused on pretty big issues. Tons of stuff happening in the country went unnoticed. But in the late 1970’s, with the proliferation of satellites, any two-bit TV station in any podunk town could get “on the bird” and have their little local reporter hit the Big Time. Accordingly, in 1980 some guy named Ted Turner got the bright idea to put up an all-news cable TV channel. Nothing but news, 24/7. Oh boy.
And then came the rest.
Now, with 24 hours of time to fill, small stories gain national importance whether they actually are important or not. Most are not. And so we’ve learned about automobile accidents, fires, killings, robberies, sinkholes and millions of mundane, everyday things going on in places that nobody cares about except the people who live there – and maybe not even them. No story is too insignificant, especially if there is aerial footage from a helicopter, which makes any story all that much more dramatic.
I remember watching CNN one day and seeing a story about a FedEx 18-wheeler burning on the side of some Interstate highway in Missouri (complete with the requisite aerial footage from the helicopter!). For some reason they spent an inordinate amount of time covering this story. I thought to myself, “A burning truck on a highway. And I should care about this…why?” Because honestly, I did not. In fact, I could not have cared less if I tried. Obviously, people thought it was an act of TERRORISM! because we have become such a nervous, paranoid society that everything bad that happens now is suspected to be a TERRORIST! act. Turns out, the driver was drowsy and just ran out of his lane and hit something that caused his external gas tank to catch fire, . Oops! (I went back and researched it for this blog reference.) No terrorism. Sorry! But by God, it could have been!
Everybody gets…heck, everybody deserves that “15 minutes of fame” Andy Warhol promised them, right? Everybody is a star, just waiting to be discovered and put on national TV.
And so now some pinhead in Gainesville, Florida is getting WORLDWIDE attention because he’s promised to do something very controversial and distasteful on September 11th. Making it worse, this idiot is pretending to be a pastor in a church.
It seems that everybody on the planet including those yet to be born have condemned what this lunatic plans to do. Every TV news reporter, every print reporter, every columnist, every pundit, and every politician has had to weigh-in because, you know, I care about what the actress Angelina Jolie has to say about this (not!). Ed McMahon was even brought back from the dead and asked for his thoughts. ABC News immediately flew a reporter down to Gainesville to interview the jackass and ask him inane questions like, “Pastor, what would JESUS do?”
The uproar is quite amusing – at least to me. Because we’ve created this guy. We give people like him a national stage. And then we act horrified at all the attention he’s getting. Well, duh.
In the old days, a guy like this would have been just another crazy hick in some tiny hick town in Florida. He would live his life in well-deserved obscurity, with his little 30-member congregation of like-minded, brain-dead boobs. And nobody ever would have heard of him. But in this age of instant-fame and gotta-have-it-now information, he’s become a worldwide celebrity beyond all reason or expectation. Paris Hilton reportedly contacted the man and asked if he would help with her career.
It’s our own damn fault. We’ve got 24 hours of programming to fill!
Coincidentally, the ever-sarcastic but always-funny website The Onion has an equally fake Onion News Network and in a recent report it addressed this very subject. Watch the following hilarious video at your peril – the language is kind of strong.
Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere