Last night I sat down to watch a Netflix rental (A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop) but Turner Classics was running an all-nighter of 1950s science fiction drive-in movies and that was all she wrote. I am such a sucker for that stuff. The two I watched were giant bug movies, a favorite of the early days, probably because the special effects weren’t that hard to pull off (put a regular-sized bug in amongst the little houses on an HO-scale electric train layout, film, add screaming bint).
Can’t remember the name of the first movie, a British film about a mad scientist whose magnetic ray upsets the balance of nature and causes grasshoppers to grow, but the second was the 1955 classic, Tarantula!, with Leo G. Carroll, the friendly guy who used to play Topper on TV. In Tarantula! Leo isn’t all that friendly, especially after he turns into a horrifying Mr. Hyde, but that’s okay because the tarantula gets him before he can harm the pretty girl. What fun! If they had a 1950s sci-fi movie channel, that’s all I’d ever watch.
More and more I see clips from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on internet news sites. If Stewart or Colbert does a particularly funny or biting segment on some topic de jour, the clip will show up as a regular news item next morning on Mediaite and Talking Points Memo. This sort of reportage has long been a feature of the cable news punditocracy, with Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow playing Stewart and Colbert clips to spice up their own shows. How much longer before Brian Williams is doing it? Shit, he’s already closing out NBC Nightly News with cute kitten videos from YouTube.
It’s not just TV and the internet. I subscribe to The New Yorker and listen to National Public Radio. Almost every day NPR airs special reports based on New Yorker articles. The last issue of the magazine contained a disturbing report on the abuse of third-country nationals by contractors working for the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m willing to bet some NPR reporter is busying copying whole paragraphs right now, if it hasn’t aired already.
American media is folding in on itself, becoming a self-referential loop of approved stories and sources. Two news-savvy comedians have become not just important news reporters but the news itself. One influential magazine drives much of what we hear on public radio.
How does a person break out of this closed media loop? Where can you go for real news? I use Google News, McClatchy, the BBC, and The Guardian. Friends send me links to articles they’ve come across. But my efforts … and the results … are haphazard. Is there a systematic, organized way to get real news from trustworthy, non-closed loop media sources? Is there a better way to stay informed? I’m asking, dear reader. If you know, please share in the comments.
Realized a couple of days ago I’ve been spelling Anthony Weiner’s name wrong. I was taught that with German/Yiddish names and words “ie” produces an “e” sound, and that “ei” produces an “i” sound; therefore assumed Wiener was the correct spelling. Now that I know it’s spelled Weiner, my question is why isn’t it pronounced “Whiner”? Man, if my last name was Weiner, I’d certainly correct anyone who pronounced it “Weener.”
Weener or Whiner, that’s one name we’re all sick of hearing.
© 2011, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.