Last night, Travel Man and I watched Network, on a recommendation from The Anchoress. She was commenting on the absolute circus going on around Michael Jackson's death. I mean, the UN passed a resolution that requires the US to pay a certain percentage of our GDP to them, the Sentate approved a legal advisor to the administration that believes that international law should be considered when interpreting the United States Constitution, and the House of Representatives passed a massive bill that even the administration hasn't read completely. (It went from 900 to 1200 pages overnight, then from 1200 to 1500 in an afternoon. And I'm looking for the video of an administration official on Fox and Friends this morning; she admitted that she'd read "large portions" of the bill. The question was "Have you read the whole 1000+ page bill?" Her answer - several times - was, "I've read large portions of it," or, "I've read large swaths of it.") This bill will effectively increase everyone's energy costs with cap-and-trade taxes. (I'd give you more links than this, but I CANNOT FIND much of anything, especially on the UN resoltion.)
And what is the media doing for at least two solid days? Hanging out in Gary, Indiana, by Michael Jackson's boyhood home. Hanging out near his ranch. Gawking at people in Harlem having candle-lit vigils of sorts by theaters. Giving us live feeds from the hospital where people are crowding in the parking lots because they're so heartbroken over Jackson's death.
Because we know how important all this is in relation to what's going on.
Mind you, I don't mind the mention of it, or even an update, but the live-feeds and interviews with every person who knew him or imitated him or listened to a record of his...it's ridiculous. Jonah Goldberg summed things up nicely.
This was a complete coincidence, but this week's lesson in The Great Adventure Bible Study was about 1Samuel, and in it, we see Israel asking for a king. They didn't ask for him for any reason except that they wanted to be just like everyone else. Even when Samuel tells them the trouble a king will bring them, their answer is, "YAY! GIVE US A KING!"
During the DVD lesson we watched before Mass yesterday, Dr. Jeff Cavins commented about kings. You see, the Lord God was King of Israel at this point in history. Samuel knew that, and was more than a bit perturbed by Israel's "follow the crowd" mentality. And today, Christians acknowledge Jesus Christ (the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) as King of kings. Catholics have a feast day just to proclaim this fact: Christ the King. So during his discussion of this passage, Dr. Cavins said, "Michael Jackson is not a king. Elvis is not a king," and then went on to discuss what seems to be this need we have for royalty. What's neat is that the Catholic Church has this kind of hierarchy built right in; we even call our bishops "princes of the Church."
But back to Network.
The movie was really fascinating. I'd never watched it before, but have wanted to for years now. And it is absolutely prescient! I suppose if I'd have watched this when it came out (fat chance: I was six) or even a few years ago, I would have scoffed that the news would be such a thing.
But no more.
What is really amazing is how far into this vision we already are. How much the news, especially with a 24 hour news cycle, has become bread and circuses. It's entertainment! It's exciting! It FASCINATING! And in an ever-increasing push to gain more ratings, more viewers, a bigger market share, the news is looking less like this:
And more like this (WANRING: language alert!!):
You doubt? Really? How about this:
Now, I like Glenn Beck, but he is (or, at least, has become) a milder version of Howard Beale. And watching Network has only put me off the news channels a little bit more than they were doing on their own, what with the days-on-end coverage about the death of a pop singer and the constant fiddling while Rome burns mentality.
It's all bread and circuses, and good luck finding out what's actually happening in the world.
(WANRING: language alert!!)
(WANRING: language alert!!)