I’ve been watching the news a lot, specifically all the reports on the Japan quake and tsunami. Whenever I switched over to the closer-to-home side of things, every single local news broadcast showed the same thing: Bay Area people upset about their boats. See, the catastrophe in Japan triggered waves that eventually reached the San Francisco Bay Area. In Santa Cruz, waves rolled through the marina, sending boats bobbing like toys in the tub and capsizing many. Now, I sympathize with these people up to a certain point….but they look pretty ridiculous crying on the news and saying things like “This is like, the worst thing that could happen” when the scenes from Japan include death, devastation, and total loss. When I watched a woman sob about her ruined boat for the third time (you know how parts of the news keep getting replayed?) I was pretty disgusted. As Ron said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “She needs to sort out her priorities!” Finally, my annoyance bubbled up until I was yelling at the tv. “You’re on the news! People can see and hear you! You lost your mini yacht–big whoop!”
I logged into WordPress, intending to write a big, angry rant as a blog post. But you know, I decided it was unreadable. It wasn’t helpful or clever or wise and it contained quite a few spelling errors (I do that when I’m upset, take it out on my words). It was also unfair. Maybe those boat owners’ soundbites were edited to save time, and the part where they express concern and perspective about Japan was lost. Maybe they’ve had a string of bad luck lately and their boats and the clothes on their back were the only things they had left. Or, maybe they really meant what they said at the time of the recording, but then watched themselves on the news and felt shame and remorse. Who knows? I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
What has come out of this little experience is a reflection on the media and the representation of one’s self. Or…..
Ways I Would Not Like to Appear on the News:
- As a person who can’t see the big picture, a person who cries over lost (unnecessary) property when there is a major loss of life in other parts of the world. (Well, you didn’t think I’d completely let it go, did you?)
- As one of those headless obese people. You know what I’m talking about–whenever the news talks about obesity, they show footage from the neck down of overweight people walking the streets and going about their days. I know they do that for anonymity, but I always wonder if any of those people watch the news and think “Hey, that Goofy shirt looks familiar…and I have a purple purse just like that…hey I was near that street today…ohmygod…..”
- As an interviewee with no smarts or personality. Sadly, I see this a lot on the news. The reporter in the field pulls aside a man/woman on the street to ask a pertinent question and the interviewee’s answer is painfully awkward or ignorant. There’s also usually stage fright involved, and so the unfortunate person ends up blabbering with a deer in the headlight look.
“What do you think about the proposed development project that will require the demolition of the 4th street soup kitchen?”
“Well, uh, I don’t know. I think they should talk about it. Or, maybe ask someone what to do. I, um, don’t go to the soup kitchen but I see it when I walk by… There’s usually people there, so, um, yeah….”
- As a field reporter in a place nobody wants to be. My heart always goes out to the reporter out in the freezing wind and rain, talking to his/her coworkers back in the cushy office. For all I know, those guys love their jobs, but I think I’d probably snap.
“Well Diane, as you can see, I’m freezing my butt off. I’ve schleped all the way out here to middle-of-nowhereville to tell you and our viewers that it is frickin’ cold everywhere, but especially so in middle-of-nowhereville. Yes, while you and Mark chuckle about Dusty the kleptomaniac cat in the temperature-controlled newsroom, I’m out here taking on Mother Nature herself…And guess what? The rhymes-with-witch must have just watched Old Yeller because the rain keeps on coming.”
What’s that? You want to know about ways I would like to appear on the news? Now that’s an idea….