Sunday, August 01, 2004

Passive Agression

The New York Times has a week-in-review piece on "What We Missed in Boston". It's the usual the-coverage-was-boring-and-no-one-watched-but-too-bad-there-wan't-more-of-it-sort-of-and-it's-the-parties'-fault-anyway bellyaching.

It gets it right, though, in a few places, such as here - when covering what makes Jon Stewart and the Daily Show team so effective:

That is one reason why the comedian Jon Stewart was so popular a compass to convention coverage. "The Daily Show," his program on Comedy Central, did not just mock the politicians - easy targets well flayed by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, et al. Mr. Stewart also zeroed in on the television journalists who chose to snub the convention as they covered it. Mr. Stewart lampooned those who deplored the slick, synthetic packaging of events, then grew indignant when Al Sharpton diverged from the script. ("I think it is an insult to African-American voters that they are giving this guy as much time as they have," groused Howard Fineman, a Newsweek columnist who as a panelist on MSNBC, alongside Chris Matthews, was on the air more than most speakers.)
What's most problematic with this piece, however, is that it can't seem to decide whose fault it is no one wants to watch. Clearly, it's the party's fault for sticking to their stoopid convention traditions. And the networks blather too much instead of showing the good speeches that are given. Eh? Either the conventions feature bad, unnecessary speeches or the networks don't spend enough time covering the good, lesser knowns in their speeches.

What's the solution? According to the article, "Instead of scorning the event, the networks would do better by working with convention planners more closely." Yes! Oh please, save us from ourselves! If the fine network producers - who did so poorly with what they were given that their ratins sank faster than GWB's approval numbers - get together and show 'em how to put on a show . . . .

I think maybe I'm missing the joke, however, because this must be a satirical comment:

NBC has proved ingenious at luring viewers who don't like sports to watch the Olympics by milking each athlete's résumé for Hallmark moments; it could stir p similar mini-dramas around elected officials. An NBC promotional spot highlighting the Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin starts this way: "A lifetime spent alone under water." The story of Dennis Kucinich could be packaged much the same way, though perhaps more succinctly: "A lifetime spent alone."
However this is intended, it's largely true already, isn't it? It's already happening - though it is hard to tell who changed first forced the other side to comply.

The other line that caught my eye was this:

Television is a passive medium.

True. Maybe that's why blogging is the Next Thing. If it is. Blogging takes the passive act of accepting news and allows us to layer on our own meaning and return it to the world. It may be no different than discussion the received news over the dinner table - but to those of us who can hit that "publish" button, it feels like a much more agressive way of getting out Truth - or at least our call for Truth - than via voice alone.

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