December 31, 2006

Death TV.

The last two nights of television were Death TV.

On Friday, talking heads talked for hours about the hanging of Saddam which we could watch on-line the next day). Writes Alessandra Stanley:
The news that Mr. Hussein was indeed dead came late on Friday night, and anticlimactically after hour upon hour of creepy music, blood-colored graphics and montages of Mr. Hussein’s most infamous moments, particularly his spider hole capture in 2003, when an American military camera recorded a hairy, befuddled Mr. Hussein being prodded and poked like a vagrant being searched for lice.

As the deadline loomed, and commentators filled time with pronouncements like “the clock is ticking on Saddam Hussein,” even on-air personalities looked restless. After devoting his entire hour on CNN to the impending hanging, Larry King asked, “Is there something ghoulish about this?” Mr. King looked a little let down when he had to sign off before the execution, promising viewers, “It is really imminent now.”...

Fox was much less squeamish, pumping up the Friday night vigil with graphics that promised “The end is near!” and “Date with Death” and urging viewers to stay tuned to Fox News.
On Saturday, there was a long ceremony about Gerald Ford that sounded like the funeral as I overheard it from the next room where I was working. But the state funeral will be on Tuesday. Last night was a preliminary ceremony as the body was brought to the Capital rotunda:
Vice President Dick Cheney, who served as Mr. Ford’s chief of staff and was an honorary pallbearer, said, “Few have ever risen so high with so little guile or calculation.”...

Mr. Cheney praised his former boss for his “capacity to forgive” and for being “always a striver — never working an angle, just working.” He noted that Mr. Ford had been treated more kindly in hindsight than when he was in office, after he pardoned former President Richard M. Nixon.

“In politics, it can take a generation or more for a matter to settle, for tempers to cool,” Mr. Cheney said. “The distance of time has clarified many things about Gerald Ford. And now death has done its part to reveal this man and the president for what he was.”
Who can read that and not think he's pleading for respect for George W. Bush?

They say famous people die in threes, and the completion of this triad was James Brown. There was no night of television devoted to his funeral, though it too would have filled the screen:
Brown's body lay in an open-topped golden coffin in front of the stage at the James Brown Arena...

The legendary showman, known as the "Godfather of Soul," was dressed in a black suit and gloves with a ruby red shirt. Jewels sparkled on his lapels and the tips of his shoes....

"The whole world changed their beat because of James Brown," civil rights leader Al Sharpton said in a eulogy. "Nobody started lower and ended higher than James Brown did."

In a brief speech [Michael] Jackson, who wore a black leather jacket, black pants and sunglasses, said he'd watched Brown perform on television as a 6-year-old and was "mesmerized," deciding right then to follow in Brown's fancy footsteps.

"James Brown is my greatest inspiration," said Jackson, who has spent little time in the United States since being acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005....

In a passionate speech, comedian and activist Dick Gregory reminded the audience of the oppressive racial environment of Brown's early life rather than simply focusing on his music.

"We didn't get this (civil rights) out of the goodness of America's heart," he said. "We didn't get this because they sent the Marines in ... We got this because with love and willing to die we said, 'We gonna change it."'


Bissage said...

Ann Althouse asks: "Who can read that and not think he's pleading for respect for George W. Bush?"

Bissage answers: Me. Because the memorial for President Ford was neither the time nor the place to plead for respect for President Bush. I watched the memorial on television and it was deeply solemn. It was the time and place to speak of the legacy of a great man. To speak of contemporary politics would have been indecent. I presume Vice President Cheney to be a decent man and that presumption cannot be rebutted by mere cynicism; or else it would be no presumption at all.

You see, if Vice President Cheney was really talking about President Bush, he would have said something like this: "[You all were meanies to President Ford and now you feel like stupid dooty-heads because he's dead. And you know what? You're all being meanies to President Bush and you'll feel like stupid dooty-heads after he's dead so why don't you stop being meanies while he's still alive, man?]" That's what he would have said, if that's what he meant.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about this. I watched Vice President Cheney give his address but I might have missed something. He might have been speaking in some elaborate code I do not understand.

Perhaps I should get myself on of these.

Jonathan said...

It was a tad depressing, yesterday especially. I chose instead to go shopping with my wife and catch up on some overdue chores around the house. At the end of the day, re-runs of Red Dwarf. Pure Bliss.

As part of a pre-emptive attack today, I'm only going to read the comics and ads from my local paper ignoring all other pages, especially the opinion section. As for television it will be nothing but football. Hopefully by tomorrow I can honestly ask "Did somebody die?" when I finally watch a newscast. Here's to a less ghoulish New Year!


Rockeye said...

People die in threes, yes, but only because we count in threes. If the conventional wisdom was that people died in fours then we might have included a fourth somewhat memorable person.

amba said...

This reminds me of Richard Lawrence Cohen's wonderful Death Watch Channel with its hosts Mort and Kali.

Cat said...

See, now I was relieved about the timing of the Saddam execution because it was drowned out by retrospectives on President Ford so I didn't have to hear about what the "arab street" felt about the execution. I also didn't watch much tv news the last couple of days due to the holiday weekend.