May 29, 2005 18:52Do Your Own Homework
You may have noticed the quality of journalistic reporting dropping off over the last few hundred years. The need to get the facts out faster, even if those facts bear little resemblance to anything factual, has made the presentation of news on air and in print increasingly inaccurate and overly simplified. If a story can be thrown at the nearest satellite dish live as it happens, even if there's no context or explanation to be had with it, then media producers are beholden to run with it. Wait an hour and it will be old news, and who wants old news? Unless I see the word "live" in one corner of my television screen and the words "breaking news" in another, why should I care? Anything other than a raw feed may have been considered, edited or, God forbid, fact checked. And that simply won't do. Unless there's that adrenalin rush of "Holy shit, this is happening right now and I'm powerless to stop it," my attention might wander. Worse, I may shift my focus away from the TV during the commercial break.
Canadian journalism has been something of an exception to this trend, avoiding the sensationalism of the British media and the steady dumbing-down of their American counterparts. This hasn't been due to a higher standard in news reporting up here, but rather the malaise of dullness. Sensationalism is easy to avoid when nothing particularly sensational ever happens. Likewise the need to appeal to the lowest common denominator is safely eradicated when the news is so boring, there's no hope of luring the lowest common denominator and his disposable consumer dollar.
But with the pending prison release of Karla Homolka, Canada's public interest has stirred and the media circus is pitching the big top. Just like their opposite numbers in England and the States, Canadian muckrakers are pulling out all the stops to get a jump on the story. What that story will be, however, is unclear. We've known for twelve years when Karla is getting out. It's been no secret. The story, it seems, lies in what utterly mundane day-to-day bullshit she might get up to once she's free.
My own jokes here aside, I (and most reasonable people) don't really think Karla is going to embark on another whirlwind murder spree, chain sawing hapless victims and having sex with their body parts. That little hobby has had its day, and with armchair criminologists the world over keeping their eye on her, I expect she'll want to keep her head down and slip into the most uninteresting and blandly normal life she can possibly manage for the rest of her days. You know, like O.J. Nevertheless, newspapers, magazines and news networks will be on the job, dutifully reporting what she had for breakfast the day of her release, and the size, shape and consistency of the resulting bowel movement. And then they might want to report some trivial facts as well.
So desperate are they for any facts about Karla, correct or patently false, that the Canadian media has resorted to a tactic so low, so vile, so unconscionable, it's actually put them on an equal footing with those talentless, fear-mongering, shit-slinging, infotaining hacks at CNN. They've gone looking for blog sources.
True, these past few years, amateur blog sites have had a better record of cracking pivotal news stories than any of the major papers or networks. They've shown up the big boys so many times, CNN now spends long stretches of air time having two women (known internationally as "the hot blog chicks") reading the latest news to hit the blog scene. Of course they save anything real juicy for their regular news coverage so they can pretend they found the story themselves, but we know where they got it. They ain't foolin' nobody.
It's become such a standard practice, lazy journalists will go hunting for leads on any old blog, not just the serious ones. Witness what happened here only last week. After running my completely facetious entry welcoming Karla to my neighbourhood of N.D.G.(her planned place of residence come July), I was contacted by a Toronto Star reporter who wanted to know if I could point her at Karla's future address. Like I pal around with serial killers. I invite you to reread that entry and tell me, in all honesty, if there's any moment in it in which I don't completely sound like I'm talking out my ass. You all knew I was kidding, right? Now where, I ask you, was this journalist's bullshit detector?
As a responsible citizen of both reality and cyberspace, I politely informed the reporter in question that I had no additional facts that could help assist her in stalking any ex-cons who may or may not have paid their debt to society. But the question remains, if the supposedly legitimate media will come sniffing around a website like this for a lead, hint, or factoid, what other rocks are they looking under and which other completely unreliable blog geeks are they quoting? It may only be a matter of time before we see Stile weighing in on the issue of North Korean nuclear armament on Crossfire. Given CNN's penchant for pursuing new all-time lows, this may happen as early as next week.
May 20, 2005 16:26Nerd Safari
"Did you love it?"
This was the ambush question I was asked over brunch at someone's house, the day after seeing Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in 2002.
"Well, no. I didn't love it. But I thought it was an improvement over the last one."
Three years later, the same review applies to Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. You know, if George makes a few more of these space operas, he might start to get the hang of it.
Trying to get into the first show of a new Star Wars movie is an act of madness unless you just so happen to have a complimentary VIP pass that allows you to bypass all the lineups and walk straight in to your reserved seat. I couldn't turn an opportunity like that down, but truth be told, the show I was really interested in was the freak show before the movie.
Turning out hours early for the midnight screening were a variety of impoverished Jedis, unemployed Sand People, and Cheapo Fetts. With Hallowe'en so far away on the other side of the calendar, the superfans seized this opportunity to play dress up out of season. It was sort of like attending The Rocky Horror Picture Show, only with more costumes, less sexual deviancy, and a church-like silence so every syllable of Lucas's overwrought dialogue could be processed, memorized, and later debated online at length.
I suppose it's all in good fun, but I always find this level of obsession to be mildly creepy, especially if you think about the psychology behind the costume selections. For example, there's something disturbing about the sort of person who chooses to dress as a storm trooper. Out of the myriad of characters and alien races sprinkled throughout the Star Wars universe, the one they find most compelling is an anonymous, faceless, fascist enforcer clone. You just know it was the exact same sort of conformists who were first to don a brown shirt back in 1930s Germany. Look at the faces of these people when they take off their masks to come up for air and tell me I'm wrong.
I don't mean to pick on Star Wars fans specifically though. They're too easy a target, and who am I to judge? I may have gone dressed as a normal human being with a life, but I was still there, first show, first day. And even if some of them feel compelled to dress up as the genocidal shock troops of a galaxy far far away, it could be worse. They could be Civil War reenactors. Now those nerds scare me.
Unlikely as it may seem, superfans come in both male and female varieties. And sometimes they hook up, assuring the gene pool will not be deprived of future generations of nerdlings.
This guy was dressed as a pause button. The noble Pause Buttons are a warrior race native to the planet Kashyyyk, if I remember my Lucas mythology correctly.
Darth Midget required a pair of platform shoes to maintain his imposing stature as a dark lord of the Sith.
As the superfans documented the evening for posterity, some, like the guy in the middle, had their eye on short-term gain. NB: If you want any hope of getting laid at one of these events, come dressed as Harrison Ford.
Even the ones not in full costume still looked like they were dressed for some other movie prequel. Napoleon Dynamite: The Early Years perhaps.
These unfortunate plebeians had to rot in line for hours and pay good money for the privilege.
Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Depardieu.
Meesa sad, meesa have no dialogue.
May 06, 2005 18:41Welcome Home, Karla!
Canada's cutest serial killer is getting out of the can and moving in next door! Yes, Karla Homolka, that rapin' murderin' party girl is apartment hunting in my neighbourhood. Word is, once she's free to mingle with the public again she'll be forgoing a return engagement in Ontario in favour of coming straight to Sin City North, Montreal. Specifically my own neck of the woods, the semi-suburbs of Notre Dame de Grace.
The geographical relocation is so Karla can be closer to some of the gal pals she made in prison, like Christina Sherry, one of the ringleaders of a Montreal rape-n-torture gang who got sent up the same river for her crimes. Obviously the girls spent their terms bonding over mutual interests like curling, American Idol, rape, Phil Collins albums, torture, and Hello Kitty memorabilia. Now they can hang out away from those nosy prison guards and go bar hopping, bowling, or cruising Catholic schoolgirls at their own convenience. I'm sure they're just dying to cut loose and paint the town red with the blood of their many nubile teenage victims. It's just like a bad Hollywood slasher film, only real and much sexier because neither of them is Paris Hilton.
I hope Karla moves real close because the novelty of living two doors down from local news reporter, Cindy Sherwin, is growing thin. Karla's a real celebrity, and just the thought of her living near enough for me to hear the angry protestors has me all star-struck. Maybe she'll come over to borrow a cup of sugar to bake a cake, or a cup of bleach to destroy DNA evidence. I can't wait! The welcome mat is out.
In news that affects me personally and deeply, Land of the Dead is nearing release. It's just another zombie flick you say? No, it's the fourth zombie flick by George A. Romero, and zombie geeks like me have been waiting for it for twenty years now. I've seen the previous three entries in the series a million times each. Literally. I'm not kidding. I counted. One million times each. I figure I'll need to spend the next eleven years of my life watching Land of the Dead over and over again to get anywhere close to evening it out in my head with the others. Fuck Episode III, this is the one I'm getting in line for now. Maybe it'll even be good.
The sad thing is it won't do anywhere near the business of all the Romero knock-offs that have come out in the last few years. It must suck when you invent a genre and then everyone else under the sun gets funding to do insipid rip-offs of your work while you have to rattle a beggar's cup on corners to get funding to do your own proper sequels. It's an experience I hope to replicate myself one day when I launch the first ever celebrity sex crime porno epic to great critical and cultural acclaim. See you at Sundance!