Sunday, February 14, 2016
Nicholas Reid reflects in essay form on general matters and ideas related to literature, history, popular culture and the arts, or just life in general. You are free to agree or disagree with him.
HERE IS THE NEWS
WEATHERPERSON: Hello. I’m here to say it’s been a hot day and here’s a satellite shot of the weather situation in the Tasman, but I’m not allowed to say any more than that at this point because our strategy is to delay a real weather forecast until the end of this bulletin in the hope that you will watch for the full hour and please all the advertisers.
[Cut to clips from forthcoming “news” stories over portentous “news” music]
HE: Good Evening and Welcome to Inanity News on Any Channel.
SHE: There are two of us reading the autocue when the job could be done by one person, but then our market research people have told us that you like to believe you are listening to a friendly and spontaneous conversation, and the more of you who believe that, the happier our advertisers are.
HE: Have to remember the advertisers.
SHE: Sure do! [They both crack up in friendly laughter. First scripted banter target hit]
HE: And today it was announced that David Phooey died at 69 after a brave struggle with dyslexia and being chronically passé.
SHE: David Phooey will be remembered by babyboomers as the man who bravely pioneered transgenderism by bravely wearing wigs and painting his face. And he was an innovative musician.
[Cut to local music critic who says “He was an innovative musician.”]
HE: So we are now going to subject you to fully ten minutes – that is, one third of our news time – of tributes to David Phooey and samples of his music. As we are placing this at the beginning of the news, we are implying that this is the most earth-shattering thing that has happened today.
SHE: We will also heavily imply that the death of David Phooey is an event as important as the Second Coming. We are happy to give you these ten minutes as we can simply repeat all the stuff we have got off our international feed without having to do any original research. Our budget does not run to really investigative stories.
[Cut to ten minutes from the international feed of the illustrious career of David Phooey, with samples of his great hits such as “Is There Life in Repeats?”, “Ground Control to Grinding Stuff”, “The Jean Genet Mispronounced” and “Let’s Dance While Pretending We’re Making a Statement of Momentous Sociological Importance”. Vox pop and superannuated pop stars agree the death of David Phooey was as important as the Second Coming.]
HE: Oh, I loved that stuff.
SHE: [wiping tear from eye] Me too. [They look at each other understandingly and then smile winsomely. Second scripted banter target hit.]
HE: And coming up, news that New Zealand’s musical sensation Larde has broken up with her boyfriend. And see what’s in store for phone users in Delaware.
[Cut to first ad break.]
SHE: Welcome back to Inanity News. It has been reported that Larde, New Zealand’s singing sensation, has broken up with her partner of two years. We cross to Tony Oleagenous, who is waiting outside the house of Larde’s mother in Auckland to see if there are any new developments in this story.
[Cross to location]
TONY OLEAGENOUS: Thank you, Wendy. Well it’s come as a shock to the whole music community that Larde has broken up with her partner. Larde has not been anywhere near this address for quite a few months, but my function is to make it look as if our news channel has something to add to this story by taking the camera outside the studio. As you can see, I have nothing at all to add to the story by being here, but it is an Auckland location so many of our viewers will think this is a story that involves them, and some of them might even say ‘Oo! I’ve passed that house.’ I think the door is about to open and we might get a shot of Larde’s Mum and… yes it is…. No sorry, it isn’t. I’m afraid the door isn’t actually going to open. Over to you Wendy and Thing.
[Cross back to studio]
HE: Thanks for that comprehensive report, Tony. Well that certainly is sad. I’m sure all Larde’s New Zealand admirers wish her well. I like all Larde’s music, especially ‘Royalties’.
SHE: Oh me too. She’s really great.
[They both hum a chorus of Royalties, then giggle. Third scripted banter target hit.]
HE: And on a lighter note, phone users in Delaware were in for a shock when they called the Fire Department and were greeted with a sound of a farting mongoose.
[Cut to trivia story, totally irrelevant to New Zealand and obviously used as a “filler” at the American local station whence it originated, of complaints by local phone users that when they called the Fire Department they were greeted with the recorded sound of a farting mongoose. Irate subscribers are interviewed, and there is an abject apology from the local fire chief, who explains that the farting mongoose was an in-house prank that got out of hand. The American anchorman reporting the story cracks up as he reports it. Back to the studio…]
HE: Ha ha ha.
SHE: Ha ha ha ha ha.
[Their laughter is patently forced, but the fourth scripted banter target is hit.]
SHE: And after the break, war in Iraq, drought in Canterbury, refugees involved in riot in Munich and a thermonuclear device has exploded wiping out a city in Pakistan.
HE: And look who’s coming back to New Zealand to wow their fans!
[Cut to brief shot of superannuated English rock band from the sixties landing at Mangere. Second ad break.]
SHE: Welcome back to Inanity News. There is war in Iraq.
HE: There is drought in Canterbury.
SHE: Refugees have been involved in a riot in Munich.
HE: A thermonuclear device has exploded, wiping out a city in Pakistan.
HE: And look who’s back in New Zealand!
[Cut to five minute story, obviously little more than a plug for a rock concert, about the return to New Zealand of Mick Jigger and the Rolling Rocks, with New Zealand interviewer trying to sound hip while Mick Jigger smiles tolerantly and looks way, way past it.]
HE: Hey Wendy, remember rocking to ‘I Can’t Get No Multiple Fraction’?
SHE: I sure can!
[More forced laughter. Fifth scripted banter target hit.]
HE: Well Weatherperson, what was it looking like today?
WEATHERPERSON: Hello. Well here were the temperatures for all the main centres for today and here are some photos of how it looked in each main centre. I know that it’s frustrating for all you viewers that I have to say all this stuff, as none of you are really interested as you already know what the weather was like in your area, and all you really want from me is a real weather forecast. But as I told you at the beginning of this bulletin, our strategy is to delay a real weather forecast until the end in the hope that you will watch for the full hour and please all the advertisers. So you’re not going to hear anything worthwhile from me for another half hour.
SHE: And it’s over to Seamus with Sport.
[Cut to third ad break]
Followed by half-an-hour of sport.
Followed by the weather forecast.
Followed by a brief trivia story.
Followed by the sixth scripted banter target being hit.
HE: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.
SHE: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.
WEATHERPERSON: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.