Am I the only one…? Who thinks of all those hot “Law and Order” attorneys whenever I’m watching the real ones in public trials like the Michael Jackson melodrama…? We’re so accustomed to the sleek TV imitators, the real ones usually pale by comparison.

Lets call this the television-ization of America. For instance >>

* During presidential campaigns with the fate of a nation at stake, we spend our time on scoops about birth certificates, college dorm life, and sexual dalliances. The world is on fire, and yet our gotcha-newscasters — and their audiences of god-how-I-love-gotcha-news! — prefer giddy trivia

* During street protests, where do the cameras go? Quick, lets catch those few demonstrators behaving badly, those police lines reacting violently, and say how about a few closeups on some photogenic nudity out there

* During tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods, the thing viewers respond to, and therefore what television gives them, are the panoramic views of the devastation. Counter-point those with dazed victims being interviewed. Great grist for the media mill, but rarely an intelligent word about how all these disaster-dots connect back to that now-boring-old-news story about climate change

It’s the classic chicken-or-egg. Critics claim networks thrive on this stuff; networks claim they’re only giving people what they want; the country, if it had a voice, would simply weep!

Right now television doomsayers talk a lot about America’s demise. With libraries of historic evidence, they melodramatically point to the demise of other empires. Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Incas and the Aztecs. But then that was long and slow ago, right? Not always.

If television uncharacteristically decided on some serious in-depth collapse stories, well, there’s the 17th C China’s Ming dynasty which collapsed with amazing swiftness…in 1945 the 1000-yearThird Reich collapsed in 12 years….in 1989 the Soviet Empire collapsed in a matter of months…and in 2011 a gang of tyrants suddenly collapsed all in one remarkable Arab Spring.

Here’s a crazy idea. If the 1% owning the nation’s networks really wanted to provide a service for the 99%, how about a month long documentary series by Ken Burns. Titled “Collapse” based on the book of the same name by anthropologist Jared Diamond. Oh wait…..silly me…that would mean missing four weeks of Law & Order; worse yet, American Idol and Jersey Shore.

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  • A very good point, Jack. There is no question about it, but these 24/7 News Channels are a major problem, as they 'need' to feed the Public will endless News Items, and at the same time, keep the advertisers as only 'bad' News is interesting, we get endless streams of the same story about some a Murder, or a strike, or [even better a Plane Crash...with 'lots' of Bodies]...anything to keep your audience hooked, [so that they then see the endless advertisements, and then rush out to buy something they did not in fact...want...or indeed...need].
    Then, the other problem is, that if we see all these horrors on our TV from the Safety of our Own Homes, we all start to believe that the whole World has gone mad..and its not 'safe' for us to leave our homes....
    In the UK, we in fact 'think' that the USA is very dangerous, everyone has a Gun, and will use it if you just sneeze !!
    But that is the impression 'we' get by watching your News Channels as well as the 'Cop Shows' you show all the time, and as the USA sells all its stuff to us in the UK, and we buy it...we start to believe what 'we' see on our TV is the real America, which of course is rubbish, but then it? So we all get anxious and the World seems more nasty, than it in fact, is.....TV can be a curse at times....

  • A wonderful read today Jack ... Literate and addressing our reality ... so much appreciated!

  • Reassuring to hear a pair of wise voices who seem to hear the same cadence to the same concerns I hear. So much is happening and changing in our world...but so few people willing to see past the trivia that gets reported

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