Saturday, January 01, 2005

Dick Clark, like Yasser Arafat ...

... has probably been dead a week. ABC covered it up because they don't want to harsh our Rockin' New Year's buzz.

Seriously, that was weird. We'd gathered with some friends over at Andy Cosby's big-screen-equipped house to have a quiet celebration of Krispy Creme donuts, Guiness and TIVO'd Venture Brothers episodes. (Everyone there has done their fair share of clubbing, and are quite finished. For years I performed every New Year's Eve, and the shine is long gone.)

We finished "Dia de los Dangerous" and switched to broadcast TV literally at the stroke of midnight. It happened to be ABC, so it was Dick's usual turf. Now apparently Clark, who I'm sure is a perfectly pleasant man, is in the hospital. Regis Philbin was filling in. Regis kept going on about "how exciting" this all was, an edge of panic in his voice. He repeated the phrase ad nauseum, like a young Southern bride facing a fat sweaty groom twice her age and trying to convince herself that the wedding night would be fun. He saw his future as New Year's Monkey, and did not dig it.

Thanks to the glory that is TIVO, we could then have our own personal countdown. We zipped back thirty minutes and picked our way through the musical numbers. These were in themselves unremarkable -- except for just how spry Billy Idol looked, and how lifeless and horrible the crowd appeared at the "party." (The party is pre-taped days in advance, by the way. Sorry to burst yet another illusion of spontaneity.) I've had the thrill of shooting "live" performances, so I explained that at the "party" the lights were on full blast, it would be 120 degrees, and there's NO BOOZE, no way, for insurance purposes. Sober, overheated and dancing with tourists to Top 40.

"So," Andy's brother Mark said, "that sounds exactly like hell." I defy Satan to top it.

The point I'm wandering to is that every few minutes, little video "Get Well" cards from celebrities would drop in. "Love you, Dick, and get well" said John Travolta, Jon Bon Jovi, Snoop Dogg, etc. etc. They were nonstop. After every music act, a couple of these would ping out, back into the show, back to "Get Well, Dick" ...

This is horrible on several fronts. First, it points out just how insanely out of touch with reality TV network humans are. A few at the top of the hour, wonderful. I get that. But these were the spine of the show. We, the audience, checked in with well-wishers to Dick Clark more often than cardinals on a Pope with a wet cough. And no matter how long he's been there, TV execs, please be aware not a human being other than Dick's immediate family gives a damn.

This is the NEW YEAR. The story is the NEW YEAR. Only TV humans, the most myopic, "we are the most important industry ever" cabal would be blinkered into thinking that the point of a New Year's Eve special was NOT the progression of the world's peoples from one of the most turbulent, violent years in modern history into the hopeful future, nooooo, the point was their celebrity who hosted the show.

Horribleness the second. Let's for a second say that you, TV human, decide to slice a little time away from your partying for some human warmth. When you're cutting away from the party, you should be doing so with some sort of context, right? What you're essentially saying is "Yes, even in our joy of watching this 19-year-old girl smack her goodies, let us take a moment and reflect on those less fortunate." I'm down with that. That's a veneer of humanity, at least.

But then, as we've seen, we spend the evening reflecting on the health of an industry insider. Guys, no offense, but didn't God just go old school and cause the sea to swallow the earth? There are over a 100,000 dead people and that'll probably triple with disease. Or, closer to home, if you feel the need to play it safe, we've got 140,000 troops sweating their ass off in trucks that the richest, most technologically advanced nation on earth somehow couldn't figure out how to armor. And we spend 15 minutes of every hour WISHING GOOD HEALTH TO DICK FUCKING CLARK?! No, fuck YOU, Pfc. Jenkins, sent looking for WMD's and there were never any but now you're somehow on your third tour of duty, something they didn't even try to pull in Viet-goddam-Nam, fuck you.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not taking some moral high-ground here. I had a gut full of beer and donuts at midnight. I'm not saying we should cancel our little Western world parties. But after a decade working on and off in television, what depresses me is that this wasn't a conscious decision on their part. I wish I could claim that someone at ABC said "Yeah, we could acknowledge the rest of the world, or even that other human beings existed outside the entertainment world, but I don't want to." But no. I assure you, even more terrifyingly ... it never even occured to them.

... Come on, BitTorrent. Come ooonnnnnn ....


1031 said...

Krispy Creme and Guinness...why didn't I think of that? I was at Downtown Disney (long story) and had a HOB burger and Guinness...but man, donuts would've been pretty good.

As it was, I didn't get to catch any of the TV stuff last night, so I missed Regis and his antics. (He didn't mention Notre Dame football by any chance, did he?)

That is pretty shitty of the network to keep babbling on about Clark. No offense to him or his family, but, yeah, there are a few more important things going on in the world.

So they didn't even say anything about the troops overseas either? Guess they didn't want to rain on anyone's parade and remind people of reality.

And speaking of reality, I think I'll spend the day playing PS2. Metal Gear 3 or GTA: San Andreas? It's a tough call...

caseyko74 said...

It's sad, but I don't really watch anymore for who is playig on what show, I watch to see if anything happens. Especially MTV. I watch to see how they would respond while drunk and stoned to an emergency happening all around them. It is a dark and twisted way to bring in the new year, but that's pretty much what I look for nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, this is a PARTY on tv. That's all. You take it more seriously than that, you got a problem. I don't find it unusual, at all, that the entertainment industry chooses to 'love' Dick Clark. Wow, you need to go take a happy pill.

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