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The Decline of Western Civilization

Published by marco on

The term in the title stems from two movies released in the 80s, The Decline of Western Civilization (IMDb) and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (IMDb), which documented the world of punk rock and heavy metal, respectively. With metal and punk safely behind us, there are now much more insidious cancers eating away at the fabric of our society. One of the more prevalent, Local TV News, is discussed in Things That Still Exist But Shouldn’t by Amelie Gillete (AVClub). The article covers a few things, but leads with a 2–minute clip that is just appalling for every horrifying second. It is, of course, linked below for your viewing pleasure.

Barely Today Trampoline Comparison (YouTube)

It’s hard to know where to begin—almost as hard as it is deciding whether to laugh or cry.

  1. First, there are the awesome graphics adorning this broadcast. Not content with using the false promise of local promiscuity at the end of the broadcast (after sports and weather) to keep viewers glued to the tube throughout an onslaught of commercials, local TV has let the otherwise ubiquitous news-crawl creep up the left side of the screen and take over almost 1/3 of the width. And all this in order to deliver weather information in as many forms as possible at once. You know what? There should just be a channel for that … oh.
  2. Next up, there’s the “human interest” story of the 123lb hamburger. Not only is it a fabulous waste of food, but it’s going to set you back $379. As with everything else in the broadcast, it is offered without context or indication as to why this is newsworthy (other than to serve as a freebie commercial for the restaurant and to give the troglodytes out there another reason to chant “USA!”.
  3. Then we’ve got the HI-larious color commentary guy/news-anchor/good ‘ol boy. He’s got not one, but three kick-ass one-liners about the hamburger and—oh, he’s not done yet, he’s just getting started—he segues seamlessly and, one might even be moved to say, suavely, to nailing a fat boy from England to the wall for being a big, fat, huge fattie who eats a lot and who’s fat.
  4. Meanwhile, the crawl below tells us just how close the Taliban came to ridding the world of Dick Cheney, a far more interesting story, but not one for which the network felt they could show the side-splitting clip of a black bear who went to sleep in a tree, woke up in the f@#king suburbs, fell out of said tree onto a trampoline, launched into the air and fell on its head, clearly breaking its neck upon landing on the front lawn. The disturbing stillness of the poor bear—which hopefully died immediately, but may also have lain there paralyzed until internal bleeding put it out of its misery—moved at least four or five people in the production crew to laugh right out loud.
  5. Encourage by this reception, the anchor narrated a slo-motion replay of the clip[1]—which was mercifully cut off before the landing—then held forth on the politically correct way of making fun of an extremely overweight 8–year-old. Somehow, he managed to work in a reference to the bombs we dropped on the Nips that wiped out about a hundred thousand of those slanty-eyed little bastards before lurching into a discussion about a government’s invasion of privacy (not ours, thank God and country) with his co-anchor, who he cuts off in mid-sentence to enrich us with some gut-busting drollery about the Swiss and their love of chocolate.

The local news contains clips from YouTube, then shows up on YouTube itself. Local news and YouTube fuse symbiotically into a single entity, which, like Oroboros, provides its own sustenance. It’s video blogging at its meanest and most petty, going for pure reaction and devoid of meaning.

And the FCC goes after Howard Stern. At least his show is up-front about what it is, instead of masquerading itself as a source of useful information in order to worm its way into American homes.


[1] To the co-anchor’s credit, she sounded quite uncomfortable about replaying the clip of a bear’s senseless death … though it’s not clear whether she was offended by the brutality of it or by the way it highlighted the senselessness of her own life and career path.