Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In Which: Simon Vows Never to Watch the News Again

Top three things news broadcasters habitually do that annoy the bloody hell out of me:

1. That thing where they cut from the anchor to a close-up of a correspondant and then zoom away, revealing that the correspondant is crouched, often holding some strange object he or she has felt compelled to pick up, being so close to the ground and all. The correspondant then stands up, chucks the object aside (litterbug!) and starts walking toward the camera. I just don't understand what this brings to the relation of factual information on a news broadcast. Why why why?

2. When anchors make questions out of statements so that you'll stay tuned to be assured that the answer to the question is, as always, exactly what you knew it would be. For example: "Is there a reason gas prices have gone up so much?" Yes. Next story. "Will Christian video games sell as well as Grand Theft Auto?" No. Next. "What's it like inside the mind of a serial killer?" Ugly. And I'd rather watch CSI to learn about it. Duh, people.

3. When anyone anywhere uses the phrase "women and children." I feel like there's something odd about that phrase, like something's missing. Women, children, and your pet goat named Ron? No... Women, children, and the three-piece dining room set? No... what is it... oh yes. MEN. It was my understanding that the term we use for innocent and defenseless people is "civilian." In case any of us have managed never to come across this word in the 170 years since its invention, that word was civ-il-ian. It means non-combatant. It does not specify gender, and the reason it does not specify gender is not all men go to war. Even in ancient and medieval civilizations, not all men went to war, and back then, as now, male civilians were just as innocent and defenseless and female civilians, young and old civilians, hircine civilians (that's the adjective for goat, I had to look it up), and civilian dining sets. Removing male civilians from the group of people who are innocent and defenseless implies that women and children have equal capabilities, while men are more able. In other words, women are weak. Why this perception persists, I do not know, but I would appreciate it if it was not spread by the evening news anchor of a major television network. Not only does it degrade women and men, but it implies that gender can make the death of one civilian more regrettable than the death of another, a conclusion I find appalling.

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