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Archive for the ‘Americathon’

Americathon, Part 3

September 26, 2008 By: admin Category: Americathon, Campaign 2008, Politics, Video

Well, clearly, without trying, there’s just too much material on the economic crisis and so the “Americathon” series is extending.

As you know I don’t usually embed videos on this blog, so when I do, I really mean for you to see it. Case in point, Letterman evicerates John McCain without a script…

Americathon, Part 2

September 26, 2008 By: admin Category: Americathon, Campaign 2008, News, Politics, Video

My last post–Americathon, Part 1–was supposed to be something completely different. It was supposed to be this post. But I was on a roll and clearly needed to get that stuff out, so now I’m picking up where the first sentence left off in “Part 1,” “For years I’ve felt it coming…”

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There’s this movie Michael and I loved in the late 70s. It was called “Americathon.” This was the tagline…

 “In a story told in narrative flashbacks, a young TV consultant is hired by the President of a bankrupt USA to organize a telethon in order to prevent the country from being repossessed by wealthy Native Americans.”

Isn’t that alone enough to make you want to see the movie? Well, let me tell you about the other parts that might have you hugging your loved ones, and your assets, closer…

In the movie, set in 1998, people are living in their cars and riding bikes to work. Let that sink in… It’s not so funny during a looming 1929-style economic crisis, is it?  The ironic twist that Native Americans are the wealthiest folks in the land is terrific, but the rest of the movie is chilling in it’s prediction of a future we are living right now…

In the telethon that is developed and hosted by the amazing Harvey Corman, entertainers are booked furiously to keep the telethon going and going. As the time passes, the producers and host realize that the phones ring more if the acts on stage are more extreme, edgy, violent. By the end, the Harvey Corman character realizes that what the people really want is a public execution–they want him to get shot and die onstage.

Sound familiar?

Today’s reality shows have arrived at being only ONE STEP away from this very thing. “Survivor” started us off by showing us how ugly we can be to each other when stressed to the limits, then came Big Brother with it’s camera-in-every-room format. For me, that format jumped the shark of ethics when, in one episode, a young man threatens a young woman with a knife and no one on the production staff of the show came out from behind the cameras to the young woman’s aid. Sure, the young man was fired from the show the next day, but that was the next day, and it’s not even really the problem. The problem was that the environment of the show didn’t suppress that kind of behavior from the get-go, and “anything goes” became, truly, “anything goes” rather than the same with a wink and a nod that this was just television and we should all just perform so the ratings will go up. Was there no history of volatility in this young man’s background that would have indicated in the vetting process that he was unsuitable for the show? Or did the producers just not check deep enough?

A current show on A&E called “Intervention” follows addicts as they abuse drugs and alcohol ON CAMERA and then are forced to face their families in an intervention. Interventions are hard enough, but to have America watching you in your most vulnerable hour…??? And still that’s not the part that gets me, it’s the shooting up and the smoking and the drinking of a liter of vodka and getting into a car ON CAMERA and the field producers doing nothing to stop it that gets me.

A few articles have been written about the legality and ethics of the show, and particularly the role of the show’s field producers and crew who must keep rolling no matter what. Only once did I notice the voice of a producer stepping in to caution the addict against a certain behavior. The alcoholic who at 9:00am had downed the liter of vodka and was getting into her car was asked timidly by the off-camera producer if she really thought it was a good idea that she be driving. In that one moment, the fourth wall was gone and television as we know it was gone with it, forever.

On the one hand, I say good riddance. I hate the fourth wall. I love that television can be this incredible way for us to see each other clearly (if, like anything else, it isn’t abused). On the other hand I say shame on the field producers. This is why launch codes are kept by HUMANS–there are some decisions you don’t want a machine to make.

My feeling is that if this show is going to exist–and, truly, I don’t think it can or should–the field producers have an obligation to become part of the story. They MUST intervene, and THAT is the next evolution of television “entertainment.” “Voyeur TV (VTV): You watch because you can’t turn away.”

How do we go back from that? How do we put that genie back in the bottle? It’s funny, it feels like the evolution of television content is following the technology and real estate sectors–there’s a bubble. And it’s still expanding. When the alcoholic lady from “Intervention” hits a kid with her car and the show gets it on camera, we’ll know that the bubble has burst.

Even though it’s a comedy, “Americathon” was a cautionary tale who’s chickens have come home to roost. Many of us might end up living in our cars. My house isn’t paid off, I just bought it. If I lose my job and my brother looses his and his wife looses hers we’ll all move in my father and will start begging the farmer next door for food. I find myself really wondering what could happen and wanting to prepare but not knowing how the hell to do it.

It’s about limits. All of this is about accepting limits and training yourself to recognize them when they’re far enough away for you to take a different path. TV, like investment banking, has been pushing the limits. Every year there’s something riskier and it hasn’t been subtle. It’s been a slow, obvious boil that we all watched happen. And it says volumes–everything–about our culture. We’re not Evolving, we’re DEvolving. And the question that’s begged is how the hell do we put the genie back in the bottle…???

Americathon, Part 1

September 26, 2008 By: admin Category: Americathon, Campaign 2008, Faith, Family, Happiness, News, Politics

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For years I’ve felt it coming. I don’t know anything about the economy, and only a little about how everything is tied to everything and that that is one of the reasons we’re in this financial crisis, cuz the assholes who are supposed to know about it all turned a blind eye for some reason. Was it only greed? That seems too simple even for money-grubbing, self-loathing conservatives. And while we’re on the subject of conservatives…  somebody please introduce me to a real one. Someone show me a conservative who could tell me to my face that my loving Molly impedes their life.

I’ve actually done an informal study myself. I’m the perfect litmus test: white, pretty, educated, charismatic. I make one hell of a first impression and when, really, almost anyone meets me, they like me. So, a few times, I took this power out for a spin when meeting a conservative. I let the initial niceties happen, but then quickly let slip “my girlfriend,” or “gay,” etc. I wanted them to know upfront who they were talking to. The news came naturally enough in the course of the conversation that The Conservative felt I was “opening up” to them. This was all part of the plan, and, without exception, none of them said anything mean to me, ever. They also never brought up their own “views.” Sometimes, when I had occasion to meet with them more than once, the encounters were friendly and energetic. Not fake, just fun.

Wanna know why? Cuz so much middle class homophobia in this country is a smoke screen. It’s the result of mob-behavior, a “safety in numbers” knee-jerk. People don’t actually give a shit who’s fucking who, I think they give a shit that they, themselves, aren’t experiencing the same feelings of freedom in their relationships that it seems like homosexuals are in ours. That’s a false view, of course — all relationships are the same, regardless of sexual orientation, they’re HARD.

Anyway, I truly think that most conservatives suffer from cultural stagnation. They were brought up with the notion that there’s a set of rules that you live by and that’s that. But look at science, technology, hell–look at tall asians! Rules are being broken all the time in every sector! As humans we have to adapt. All the time. And this is what I think is tripping up most middle class conservatives (I’m talking about the ones that vote)–they haven’t been trained/raised to think outside the box. Maybe it’s the God thing… Maybe they were threatened that if they deviated from the rules they’d be smote. Smited. Smitten..??? Anyway…

When I was at the Republican National Convention, the overall feeling was one of grime, ickiness. I felt filthy inside as well as out, and scared for my life because I was trapped in a small building with a SHITLOAD of people who were lying to themselves. And, like a cornered animal, these folks were desperate. They were holding for dear life onto their precious rules even in the face of overwhelming evidence that doing so was screwing their party. Nobody likes John McCain. Not really. And nobody likes Sarah Palin. Not really. They can’t excited about such lacklustre candidates, but the deal is that they have to say they are because those are the rules.

There’s a lot of beauty in the “conservative” ideal… Conservatives are more about family than liberals, more about service than liberals, and more about loyalty than liberals. Look at the Republican party–they fucking stick together (or, well, until about a year ago they did). I wish more liberals felt more of a sense of responsibility to their children, to their marriages, to the country. I don’t ever want to go to war, and I hate regulation, but I would feel proud to serve in the military if our entire culture was about that. Sadly for conservatives, so many of their kids go into the military because, as a group, conservatives don’t believe in education and have too much of a fierce loyalty first to the country and then to their kids. I guess this is the ironic part of my rant: as a mother I would be okay leaving my kids and going to war myself, but it would be over my dead body that they should go to war.

What’s happening in the financial crisis today is like letting the water out of a pool that hasn’t been drained for  a year–there’s a lot of muck down there at the bottom and now everyone can see it.

I know about as much about Jefferson as I do about the economy, but I do know that he advocated for government changing every 19 years. It’s high time, isn’t it? The rules need re-writing.