There’s a certain pornographic quality about this, these outsiders and
their “journalistic” distance wallowing in the suffering of the poorest
of the poor. I mean how can you watch a woman put her six-year-old son
on a bus by himself in the hopes that somebody on the other end will be
there to pick him up and stand by and do nothing, because it’s not your
job to get involved, it’s just your job to record? That they can show
this live around the world or put it on the radio or the Web instantly
– but these folks are still waiting for aid just adds to how bizarre
and frustrating this all is.
And I bet those people in Haiti are
super happy that the thoughts of the Golden Globe Awards attendees are
with them – if only they had electricity so they could hear that
jackass James Cameron asking Hollywood to give it up for themselves and
how his simple-minded “Dances With Smurfs” movie shows how we’re all
interconnected (and I didn’t watch this – I caught it on YouTube). At
least the actors shown listening had the sense to look uncomfortable
with this nonsense.
And lest you think I am turning into some
liberal-bashing tea-bagger, don’t even get me started on that fat fuck
Rush Limbaugh and how Haiti will be one big publicity stunt for Barack
Obama. Yeah, Rush, Big Barry was just waiting for the hammer to come
down on one of the saddest places on Earth, just so he could bask in
the glory of its redemption. In fact, Obama is one of the X-men, and he
can CAUSE earthquakes, whenever he feels like it, but only to divert
attention away from the health care mess, the two wars, the recession
and Iron Chef faking using vegetable’s from his wife’s White House
I don’t see your fat ass down in Haiti, Rush, preferring
to let your bitter old white guy meanness pass as humor from a
distance. Which is a good thing, because you look like you’d be better
eating than Katie or Anderson. With all that marbled meat on your bones
and the drugs in your system you’d cook up nicely should it come to
that, marinate in your own juices. And you know that TV sort of
secretly hopes it gets that terribly anarchic.
But for now, it’s
just hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of bodies
piled up on streets and that kid crying “Why God why?” And that’s not a
question lazy-ass, soft-living me likes to hear at 2 a.m.
this all reinforces that despite all the advances in technology,
despite our best intentions – and I do believe we are mostly a nation
of the well-meaning – despite James Cameron being able to make a
special effects movie for $300 million – that sometimes there’s not a
damn thing you can do beyond trying your best. And sometimes that’s not
First of all, MARRY ME DO IT RIGHT NOW.
Second, discussions of when you put the camera down and pick up the shovel and when you maintain your distance irritate the fuck out of me, because they’re always full of wankers on academic panels who haven’t been in a war zone in decades if ever lecturing somebody about giving a dying kid a bottle of water or else shrieking “HOW CAN YOU BE SO HEARTLESS” at somebody doing his job and showing the world how fucked up things are. There is no wrong answer but everybody gets all abstract and overwrought and it pisses me off because, like, get your ass on a plane and do EITHER ONE. There are enough people to do everything we need done, fix it and report about it, if only everybody would do something. That vast numbers of people do nothing is where it all falls down and we have to make these crazy decisions.
Third, I do believe (in no small part because I have to or the whole thing I do with my life falls apart, let’s just get that out of the way) that there is great value in broadcasting to the world every inch of desperation and degradation in sight, and that if that is all you do, it is vital. You can’t fix problems until you know about them, and at its most basic your job on this earth is to recognize the world around you for what it is. And that requires shoving in people’s faces every night the most horrific things you can find because goddammit, knowing is always better than not knowing. At its most basic, my job as a journalist is to show you what is happening. And as much as I’m horrified by what is going on in Haiti, I’m also grateful to the people making sure I know about it at all by being there with their cameras on. If they do nothing else, they’ve done enough.
Then we get to Katie Couric and the media tent and the press operations and the strange unholiness of anchor banter, chyrons and theme songs for OH MY GOD FIX IT ALREADY. Which is a whole other critter than a BBC crew wandering around with the cameras rolling. TV thrills with its immediacy but pretty much everything feels like an episode of 24 these days, and that’s not an argument about the value of journalism so much as it’s an argument about the value of Katie and the set, stock, formulaic way reporting is done right now, such that it all seems like a piece of plastic until somebody like Shepard Smith loses it and starts yelling at the microphone again.