Friday, August 27, 2010

...You Gonna Eat That?

Every Friday is Improv Friday at Said Panties. On Facebook, X and J take a poll of their friends for a topic (any topic) to write on. The most popular, ridiculous, or random is selected, and both X. and J must write about it. This week's topic, The Newsworthiness of Eating Used Condoms, comes from Michael Steinwand.

In our 24-hour news cycle, urgency is a resting state. The second something isn't controversial, exclusive, or dire, the general cable news audience will switch to the next red-faced screaming pundit. Every bit of news is BREAKING, BREAKING, BREAKING with large graphics that "swoosh!" in and "kaboom!" out of frame. Crosshairs are focused over children's faces, tombstones transform into blood-dripping Islamic signs.

These days you aren't watching the news so much as it's coming out of your television and chewing on your eyeballs. It should come as no surprise to anyone, then, that all of this breaking news has effectively broken cable news. You don't tune in to Fox or MSNBC to learn about things, you tune in to get enraged, to get your marching orders and daily list of hate targets. They're too busy focusing on one non-story all day to bother actually delivering you a full serving of news. They'll happily show you the same five clips, over and over again, while interviewing people who don't actually know what's happening.

But I don't need to tell you all of this. That's what The Daily Show is for.

But when the story of a little boy snacking on a condom in an Atlanta hotel makes the news, you know it's a slow day, and I need to cry foul. This isn't news. This is filler. It's flavorless Oreo cream, or the air they fill bags of chips with to make them look more full than they actually are. It doesn't need to be reported, and I think they know this.

What's the matter, Fox? Did Obama lock himself in the oval office today? Did not one member of the administration make a gaffe ten years ago that you could blow out of proportion? Can't Glenn Beck just do another one of his blackboard drawings connecting anteaters to nazis to Joe Biden's next door neighbor? (THE CONNECTION IS THERE, I'M JUST INFORMING YOU!)

Well, whatever the reason, the result is here before us: the dumbest news story ever created (I know, I know, there's probably worse stories than this. Still.) Even the poor Fox writer assigned to this story knows that there's nothing really to report: a kid stuck a used condom in his mouth, he developed a fever, he is being STD tested, we do not know what happened after that. But I'll bet the writer was elated not to have to write another fantastic piece of ad hominem trash accusing Nancy Pelosi of being a back alley abortionist with the power to turn men gay with her gaze during her college years.

So instead, the writer turns to DYNAMIC language. The story isn't exciting or urgent, so his language must take care of that problem. The result, I think you'll agree, is like a treatment for a really great horror movie that tragically never follows through.

Observe some excerpts:

"The incident happened on Aug. 1 at the Wyndham Gardens hotel in downtown Atlanta, where she had taken the boy and his cousin for a weekend of family fun."

This would be where we cue the ominous music. The Grandma, grandkid, and cousin are driving along a mountain road. Perhaps The Shining's Overlook Hotel in the misty background. Perhaps a bat is flying above their car.

"Jones said at first glance room 329 looked perfectly clean, except that there was no soap and no towels."

Foreshadowing! Even the hostel in Hostel had soap and towels (and lots of bare-breasted travelers.)

"Then, she said, she noticed something more troubling."

Oh my God. WHAT IS IT? No mints!?

"I'm like, 'Girl, you know, these sheets don't smell clean,'" Jones said."

This is similar to the "I'm just going to go check out where that sound in the woods came from. I'LL BE RIGHT BACK, GUYS."

The next morning, Jones said, she awoke to a horrifying scene.

Of course, at this point, you're picturing a room full of dead bodies. Or an infestation of alien spiders with hungry eyes. Or that the child has transformed into a vampire.

But, no, our little victim was merely giving a tongue job to the worst eclair he's ever tasted.

Anticlimactic? You betcha. I mean, sure, it's horrifying. But not in the standard type of horror we're used to. We usually reserve horrifying for things like unknown beasts devouring people, or blood being let out of elevator doors. I'm sure the Grandma could have awoken to far more horrifying scenes like the cousin stabbing the grandson, or any scene from High School Musical 2.

This, Fox News, is a bit of overkill.

Also, am I the only person who sees a lot of inconsistencies in Grandma's story of terror? First of all, who the hell is going to go to sleep in a bed that smells "off"? And what, exactly, does "not clean" smell like? I know what clean smells like. Flowers and fields and bunnies. I'm going to assume that "not clean" smells like ass or jizz or slut sweat. If that's the case, wouldn't you give a quick ring to housekeeping?

And why didn't she call to complain about the absence of soap and towels? This to me is proof of neglect. Those children in Granny's care were left unwashed for an evening, or forced to bathe, soapless, and then air dry, which could certainly get them sick any way. At this rate, I'm wondering if the Grandma maybe traipsed this filthy rubber into the room, having picked it up earlier when she took her kids swimming in the local dump (it doesn't smell clean!)

And finally, I think it's quite convenient that Grandma awoke to find her grandson giving head to the condom. I ask you: how long was junior tongue-jabbing the jimmy wrapper? And there was still semen in it? He could have been slurping on that thing for hours. I also imagine that the intimate practice of used-condom-tasting is a silent one. Again, Granny's story falls short.

You know what I think? This is some sort of grand set up. Grandma trashed those sheets. She planted the condom and FORCED the kid to eat it. Now THAT is a horrifying scene. Like that lady who threw a cat in the garbage can this week. And shame on Fox for picking this story to be the first instance where they don't assume the worst of their subject, adding in vague yet accusatory statements like "some folks say the Grandma fed her grandson the condom because he had told her he supported Obamacare."

If you're going to make news of anything and everything, then let's be sure to treat it like news, Fox. Get that STD-infecting, not-clean-bed-sleeping, octogenarian geriatric monster on camera and force her to fess up. If we're going to decide, as you claim we have the choice to do, then get crackin' with the reporting.

Heeeeeeere's Herpes!
- J

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