Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Man Who Knew...Too Little
Noticing that our taste for the stupid and sensational hasn't changed.
Of course, a crowd of reporters stood and stared...
They wanted us to know they'd seen such ignorance before.
Everyone was sure he wasn't really from the house of the Lord...
All right, okay, my reaction doesn't shoe-horn all that well into the lyrical framework of Lennon-McCartney's "A Day In The Life," and, truth be told, I won't know for a whole year if Pastor Terry Jones woke up this morning, the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and actually went looking for his Zippo lighter. Or could it be that as I write this he's on a plane bound for New York City as claimed and he'll get his meeting with another Inman?
At this point I'm not sure this matters.
This episode, which has dominated the headlines for the past few days, seems to teach us more about ourselves and our dysfunctional relationship with the news media than it has about Pastor Jones.
Am I the only who thinks Pastor Jones wasn't newsworthy or worth taking up our precious mental time in the first place? That there are no serious lessons to be learned here about anything except the successful ways one can elbow their way into the national consciousness? Here's the tally:
1- It doesn't take a YouTube video or building a balloon out of Reynolds Wrap. Your viral moment that culminates in the Pope and generals and the President of the United States commenting on you as well as a personal phone call from the Secretary of Defense can begin with a 12-foot trailer and large block lettering on the side of five words, "INTERNATIONAL BURN A [choose your symbolic rant item] DAY".
2 - It helps if you look a bit out of the ordinary. Pastor Jones' pumpjack moustache is his own personal Snooki that accompanies him wherever he goes. This hirsute and animated companion does a veritable lap dance on his face each time he makes a solemn pronouncement that he's just met with another Inman and brokered something only two degrees removed from total world peace.
3 - Mostly it's a matter of timing. Pastor Jones caught us in the lull between oil spill, so-called "ground zero mosque" controversy, and whatever comes next. It's not hard to imagine if this week there had been a Category 5 hurricane headed toward Florida, not a word of ink would have been spilled on Pastor Jones. In fact, it would have been a fine test of Pastor Jones' Christian faith. Rather than show his love and zeal for the Lord by striking at the devil and burning a few copies of another religion's holy book, he could have prayed for everyone to be spared from the hurricane. Or maybe he could have done that crazy Jesus thing I've heard about somewhere in another time and place and helped some of the victims. He could have offered bottled water, not flames. I would have liked to have read a story about that or seen a clip during the Couric, Williams, or Sawyer evening half hour--except there's the hard fact to face: It probably wouldnt' make the news...
Instead, we get another reality-show-caliber, freakish fellow American striding forward to make love to the microphones, looking over his shoulder to see if there are any agents in the audience so maybe he can get a book deal or maybe a documentary film, give me a contract and an advance, give it to me now!
Where I'm At
It's plain what's happening here. I have no news today, so I'm resorting to auto-pilot and commenting on what news I still retain in my memory. And here's the truth. I smelleth the stink of stale.
The news is over for me. All of it. Completely and totally. I'm going to have to accept that and find something else to write about. More importantly, I'm going to have to find something else to think about.
I'm a bit ticked off about it at this point. Because I want to know, America and the world. What's happening out there? But I've got to let you walk away. Like allowing the kids go off to camp or blessing the beloved when she takes that solo vacation at the beach she's always wanted.
So I say goodbye to you, news, but please be careful. Don't get into too much trouble.
And don't do anything I wouldn't do.