That’s a bleak title for a blog post. It’s a quote from the tortured iconic American author Ernest Hemingway.
I chose that quote as a way of leading into my thoughts on the spectacle of the “plastic grief festival” being imposed on us complete with theme music. The human spirit can endure only so much.
Our very humanity is illuminated for us by our fellow travelers. In moments of tragedy and transformation, in moments of need and vulnerability, our most urgent questions need answers.
Robert Stacy McCain wrote a salient post entitled “Furnishing Your Tidy Little Mind”. McCain’s prescience goes like this:
“Networks pay millions of dollars a year for the services of news anchors who can pretend that what they’re doing is anything other than a carnival sideshow to sell the advertiser’s product. News for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Read—these lucrative televised spectacles inspire less cynical scoffing than they deserve. Nothing like a national tragedy to boost ratings, after all, and you know full well that the correspondent now peering grimly into the camera will be chuckling merrily with his colleagues as soon as the Breaking News Update is over. And why shouldn’t he chuckle? He’s getting paid handsomely to report this tragedy, and charges his travel expenses on the company AmEx card.”
In the space of 24 hours, the tiny hamlet of Newtown became an international media black hole where everything has been pulled into it; a position it's sure to occupy for the days and weeks to come.
The connection between the agonized townspeople and the media horde is bound to become edgier. As this story drags on there’s less and less information to provide and that wears thin.
The Daily Caller has reported that a repugnant ABC News editorial producer, a New York Times reporter and a Los Angeles-based producer approached a grieving woman just hours after her relative had been shot to death via what the DC calls “vulture tweets”.
Late Friday night, @artayd2 retweeted a message from a friend who asked, “Why do shooters get famous? Maybe because reporters are so desperate for ratings, they’ll interview freshly-traumatized children.”
With hundreds of
grief mongers tragedy traffickers journalists hounding the
town like hyenas circling their prey, there will be those who are invasive and put
on display the lowest common denominator.
McCain adds in one of his “updates”: Thanks to the commenter (it was me) who brings up this quote from Hunter S. Thompson’s book, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80′s:
“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”
I feel better now that I got that off my chest. And when the feeling of despair and the shared sorrow for Sandy Hook’s dead grips my psyche, I will turn on the Hallmark® Channel and watch a delightful Christmas movie.
I refuse to dwell in the madness and melancholia inherent in the human condition.