December 6th, 2008 15:25 EST
Cable News and Talk Radio are Obsolete
There probably aren`t enough silent generation fogies left to make a ruckus about how television hosts and anchors ride roughshod over guests in their egomaniacal compulsion to keep on yakking as if they knew infinitely more than their hapless straw horses who must grin and bear it to get a word in edgewise.
Sure, it`s bad manners. But it`s a lot more than that, it`s a lack of respect for anything but one`s own story, one`s own persona. And I`ve begun to suspect that it`s somehow related to our disrespect for the environment. I think it may be a facet of the same cheap cut glass.
We live in a vast Kentucky, a dark and bloody ground as the Native Americans came for good reason to call that part of the country. We have murdered whole tribes of man and plundered their land. Ah but that`s not quite true, because the Native Americans didn`t regard the land as theirs. In fact, they thought they belonged to the land. So what did the pieces of paper that the plunderers handed them mean, since no one could own the land, in their view?
There is hardly a dime`s worth of difference between the utter disrespect of the cable networks for truth and human dignity and the utter disrespect of our developers for the environment. People are worth listening to, but television pays lip service to this notion while trying to turn experts into the hand dolls of fatuous anchors and interviewers. The trees and water systems have their expertise, too; they clean our air and water, making the planet safe for us, but we go on treating them as if they`re in the way, an inconvenience, like a whole race of human beings almost exterminated.
As long as the cable networks spew out anger and divisiveness, as long as our idea of housing is to destroy the environment by exhausting aquifers, polluting rivers and killing trees, the human race will be unable to fulfill its highest destiny. The cable networks and our idea of habitation instill contempt for the earth and for each other. They derive from an obsolete concept of individualism as superior to the collective good.They are unable to envision a balance between individualism, individual rights and the wellbeing of all.
The recent housing collapse and the media are inextricably bound up in each other. As long as we were building impractical houses in the wrong places and in contempt of the environment the media turned a blind eye because they were deriving immense advertising revenues from developers, lenders, realtors and everyone else involved in what is now proven to have been a sham prosperity. Instead of raising the profound questions that might have helped us forge a more sensible future, the cable networks kept on yammering about flip-flopping politicians, red and blue states, culture wars, and personal failings. Instead of uplifting discourse, they used the public air waves to poison the atmosphere with negative trivia posturing as news.
Our identity is bound up in rape, murder and pillage. But we keep on putting a smooth commercial face on it. Cable news is obsolete, and so is our way of inhabiting the earth. To build grandiose McMansions on half-acre lots, destroying trees that took decades and sometimes centuries to grow, doesn`t make sense. And to go on calling cable news news doesn`t play either, because it`s 24-hour egomania dished up with trivia dressings.
Violence to the earth is an aspect of our search for identity in violence. Look at our electronic games, our television shows, our films. They exalt violence in the guise of celebrating good over evil. We are ourselves eco-terrorists, and so it should not surprise us that terrorism stalks the earth. Our preference as a culture has been for conflict, for finding fault, for taking offense, for ridiculing and denigrating each other, all in the name of something else, a cover story, a lie about the nature of news or our democratic ideals.
The last election may suggest that a majority of Americans hope for better models than the tedious fulminators of talk radio and cable and the wasteful and destructive ways we build human habitations. In the first instance, we don`t need to be preached at and we don`t need our fears and prejudices to be played like a harp. In the second instance, what better model could we possibly have than the Native Americans?