I realize I’ve been straying from the intended purpose of this blog for a while but, “I’m still editing,” is about as boring a subject as one can broach. I am still revising and chopping and re-writing, trying to get this monster novel down to an acceptable size and as free of typos as possible, but, again, it makes for very tedious subject matter. So, to relieve you from the banality of my day-to-day struggles, I’ll bring up another subject — the news.
Now, those of you who have read Resonance’s MySpace blog might be familiar with Res’ intolerance of mass media. Well, let’s just say some of my own prejudices filtered down into the spirit of my creation.
I’m not going to launch into a lengthy tirade about the news. That would take too long and cause me to digress from my intended subject. So, while I have general reservations about the means by which the public is informed of incidents that directly affect our daily life and the future of our country, it’s the relaying of inane information under the weak terminology of ‘human interest’ that I’m about to discuss.
Fluff pieces – meant to take up air time while simultaneously tugging at my heartstrings, or somehow elevating my spirit in ninety short seconds. These bits of vapor have nothing at all to do with anything important or life altering for anyone who isn’t directly involved in the story (I also place house fires, car accidents that don’t jam up entire roadways, and sudden death tragedies in this category). I find it the most predatory use of the storytelling talent, representing a society-wide epidemic of degraded voyeurism – a disease without the support of an underlying pathology where people watch just for the sake of watching.
And I got to experience it firsthand.
I’ve been going to the gym for a couple of years, now, after deciding my waist looked more like marshmallow goop jammed in a vast expanse of denim than I’d cared for it to. I’m not much of a joiner, and the concept of participating in a class usually puts me back in that physical education mindset — the grass picking, slow running, non-athletic kid standing sullenly by as the two team captains fight over who gets to be stuck with me. It’s not all that pleasant and I tend to try and avoid it. But, a friend I’d made while slogging it out on the elliptical machine insisted I take a weight lifting/cardio class with her one day. Surprisingly enough, I kind of liked it.
I’ve been going for a couple of months now. I enjoy the challenge and the fact the instructor is neither perky nor bouncy. She’s grounded and plainspoken, and just a little acerbic — my kind of teacher. But, I just wasn’t feeling it the other day. Maybe it was because it was ninety-nine degrees out and the gym’s air conditioning wasn’t working right. Maybe it was because the class structure had changed and my equanimous mentor was suddenly sharing the cardio portion of the class with a nauseatingly chipper half-skeleton that thought screaming at us would keep us motivated (a practice that usually results in me reverting to passive resistance). Whatever the reason, though, when the classroom door flew open while I was straining like a constipated senior in an effort to lift that final rep of weights over my head, and the room flooded with brilliance from a spotlight mounted on top of a television camera, I was immediately incensed.
So incensed, in fact, I bolted upright and toppled halfway off my step.
Perfect. Not only do I never want to be on TV beet red and drenched in sweat with my bangs curling every which way from the humidity, I never want to be on TV looking like all of the above and appearing to be the town drunk. This is a relatively small town, and footage of me would most likely not go unnoticed. People on the third floor of my husband’s office building can spot me walking two blocks away. I tend to, uh, stand out. Add the wondrous invention of the zoom lens and I’m nailed pretty damn quick.
After class, I complain to some young guy at the front desk who has no idea who these people are or what story they’re doing. Then, I go home and solicit the advice of friends on whether or not to call the station and complain my image had been captured without my permission. It’s a safeguard, checking with other people. I tend to…overreact.
The deciding factor came from a young, but very wise girlfriend. “There are two things you don’t do,” she says. “You don’t ask a woman her age, and you don’t film her when she’s sweating.”
So, I call the newsroom. The woman at the desk informs me they were following some man who is on an extreme exercise regimen.
Oh? A human-interest story? Fabulous.
I tell her I don’t want to be on the news, to which she sagely replies, “They were only filming him.”
What kind of magical camera is there that films only the intended subject and blurs out the rest of the background? I need to get one of these.
“But, this was a class of all females,” I say in a change of assault after deciding the above sarcasm would most likely sail right over her head. “There was no guy in there to film. So, I guess you don’t need that footage, anyway.”
She promises then to speak with her producer.
Still not through with my indignant rage however, I decided to call the gym and talk to the owner. I explain how unhappy I am and how I feel it would have been in my and the other patrons’ best interest for him to have posted a sign saying there was going to be filming going on.
“But they were only filming him.”
Again with that magic camera. Amazing.
After securing his undoubtedly sincere apology, I hung up and went to the DVR to set the timer to record the six o’clock news. I was at the store when it aired, but watched it later in fast forward. No me falling off of anything. No story on exercise whatsoever. I was in the clear.
“There’s always the ten o’clock news,” my husband offered once the final segment had sped past and I’d let out the breath I’d been holding.
Did I watch it? No. Sometimes the illusion of getting one’s way is better than the possible reality of the entire county seeing me freak out at the presence of a camera like a participant in the witness protection program and then proceed to fall ungracefully on my ass. That doesn’t mean I’m not still more than a little irritated about the entire event — including the smirk on the cameraman’s face as I righted myself.
“Aaah,” you say. So, this is about wounded pride? Well, yeah, a little. But make no mistake; it’s also about why the hell my privacy (at a moment when it was particularly important to me) was invaded for a two-minute bit of nothing that has zero to do with anything relevant.
It just shouldn’t be done.