Come to Papa, razzi

Posted on April 21, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cave men understood the value of the story.  In fact, they invented the concept of the wall as seen on today’s social sites.  The excitement of the hunt, if not the sheer necessity of it, got those cave journalists in the mood to go to press paint.  (Say what you will about stone painting as a medium, but it has sure outlasted last century’s newspaper.)  Look!  There’s the stampeding herd, the flight of spears in the air, jubilant hunters all around…   and a hand print?  Researchers have discussed the significance of that, but, maybe, it was just a count of the take on that hunt.  You know…   5.

They even had moving pictures of sorts.  Those caves were dark, except for the light of dying torches and hearths, and the cave walls rough and uneven.  Together, the light and wall texture composed a lively show as the flickering flames sent shadows dancing across the paintings, imparting an almost supernatural feeling of motion right before all those sleepy eyes.  Every night, in the quiet time before sleep, the hunt — in motion and living color — was played out once again.  And, the narrator emphasizing, “We bagged five!”

We don’t do cave walls anymore.  We learned during the Renaissance how to do it right.  We want wall art, we just build a big, stone cathedral, light it with flickering torches and/or oil lamps, hire a da Vinci or Michelangelo, and watch those guys laboriously pound, grind, and mix select ingredients into just the right colors and textures, then turn ’em loose on those walls and ceilings.  WAIT!  THIS JUST IN:  a couple of cases of spray paint, a half-dozen taggers, a city-full of walls and overhead structures just waiting for proper treatment…   and someone in authority saying, “Don’t you dare!”  Actually, with that last example, there isn’t much story line, just lurid, flashy colors,, maybe even some drawings, but, basically, just meaningless stuff that shouts, “Hey, looky here!”  Which brings us to paparazzi and tabloids.

Paparazzo (singular of paparazzi, which is plural of paparazzo) is a character in a movie (La Dolce Vida – 1959) who was an obnoxious celebrity-chaser with a camera and a nose for scandalous and prurient news items.  “Obnoxious” in the sense that he got into people’s faces with that flash bulb and saw/reported only a salacious perspective in every activity in which the stalked celebrity engaged.  Subsequently, that name came to be applied to an entire class of…   can we say photo journalists?…   who regularly stalk and ambush celebrities as they go about their daily activities.  Privacy invasion (with those super telephoto lenses) is no biggie with them.  Nor is a shot in the mouth from a pissed-off celebrity who does not want the individual and his camera getting into the cab with him/her, or preventing her/him from exiting the cab.

Tabloids seem to be the place where all those paparazzi shots are displayed (including the one in the mouth).  Whether the photo journalist submits a story with the hard-won pictures or a tabloid “reporter” reviews the pix, then makes up a story from sketchy information provided by the submitter is a mystery rivaling “Sasquatch” and the “yeti.”  Or, maybe no one is consulted; a photo is submitted and a random story from file…   or somewhere…   is tacked onto it.  Like the old dime novels from the 1800’s that glorified famous and infamous celebrities of the time, an ongoing drama surrounding the big name is fabricated and published as a “developing” story.  Really, how many more times can I believe that Angie and Brad are splitting up?

Next up:  Veracity and responsibility

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Story is Everything

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It is a crowded world we inhabit.  Well, crowded with humans, anyway.  Clawing our way to the top of that food chain left us with very few natural predators (most notable among those remnants today are microbes and other humans).  Instead of “clawing our way…” I could have said “conquering our environment,” but, the jury is still out on whether the Natural Order of Things is pleased with our meddling in so many of nature’s balances.  If not, an inevitable “adjustment” to our achievement may balance the ledger long before a killer asteroid can do the job.  Until either occurrence, our low attrition rate reinforces our pre-eminence at the top.  Them babies just keep coming.

More people means a larger consumer base for everything from basic survival needs to an increased demand for, and variety of, information.  This is where the media comes in, and the PAU obligingly keeps turning out hordes of journalists eager to find an audience ripe for their pronouncements…   and, even more ripe for being parted from their money.  (No carping, here.  Somebody has to pay for all that advertising.)

The Story is eternal.  From time immemorial, from that first ancestor’s telling of  a wondrous chunk of rotten meat (or, if you prefer, a nice berry patch) just over the hill, our kind has depended on The Story for survival.  Every instance of information sharing is a story, including technical manuals and associated schematics, if you understand that language.  Social information transmits the story of who is at the top of the power pole, who is in the middle, who is at the bottom.  The pecking order in a flock of chickens is information-sharing relative to the power hierarchy.  Tribal history and knowledge, before writing, was passed on verbally; this lore was vital to locations of tribal resources, enemy territory, who got to eat first and who got to eat last, who was welcome in the group, who was outcast.  The Story has been life to humankind.  Just because we have reduced the number of entities who want to include us in their dinner plans does not mean our need for The Story has been excised.  The Story is the embodiment of information technology, and that is mankind’s first great invention — not fire and not the wheel.  The IT department predates it all.

The world is over-run with humans.  Humans seem over-run with media looking for a place — any place — in social awareness.  We need The Story like a strung-out addict needs a fix.  No matter who you are, or what your preferences, there is a surfeit of suppliers:  news stands with a boggling amount of printed material, on-line sites with e-offerings equally intimidating, and libraries containing centuries worth of out-of-print material.  For amusement, you can even tune in your favorite teleprompter-reader (a.k.a., news anchor) and watch him/her dazzle you with flashy form devoid of solid substance.  Instant gratification at its finest.

Today, profit is the motive and The Story is the game.  If you have something to tell, you have to get an audience’s attention to get them to buy the publication and buy into the story, and, you have to do it regularly.  Out-hustling the competition to meet publishing deadlines plays its part in mediocre offerings leaning more to the lurid than the pertinent.  But, hey!  It’s freedom of the press.  You gotta love it!

Next up:  Come to Papa, razzi

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...