Television news ain’t what it used to be. It’s the day after the hurricane. Most of us are breathing a sigh of relief that we didn’t lose power or suffer any major catastrophe. But the producers of television news can’t seem to move on. They continue to sensationalize the storm, reporting from their various outposts making, for the most part, a big deal out of nothing. “The sea continues to toss and churn!” shouts an intrepid, young reporter standing on the beach. (Yes! And the tide goes in and out, too!) A tree fell down in Wellesley. Some vinyl siding came off of a house in Scituate.
But what else is there to report? Can we stand any more talk about the election? Or any more ads for the candidates?
I recently returned from Naples, Florida, where we spent a week visiting with my mother-in-law, who lives in a retirement community there. Every day at 5:00, cocktail hour commences in the den and we watch the evening news together. Two things struck me about their local news reporting. First, it was such a blessed relief to not have to listen to Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown ads. Second, and most significantly, was the news anchors themselves. The difference between theirs and ours was striking.
Here, and I mean on all networks, ours news anchors are Barbies and Kens-and mostly Barbies. It seems to be a contest to see which network can show the most T & A, the most leg, the poutiest, sexiest, Angelina Jolie-lips. We see big hair, big boobs, nice butts. Even on the coldest days, the women wear short skirts, sleeveless, skin-tight dresses and low-cut blouses. Their shapely silhouettes are outlined for the world to see against the national weather maps. Did you ever wonder what happened to the Natalie Jacobsen look? She was always so well put-together. Well, it’s still alive and well in southwest Florida.
Maybe the south is just more conservative, or maybe the high number of seniors living there demand some decency. But their news anchors are normal people. They are not all of the Barbie and Ken physique. They wear well-styled suit jackets, dresses that fit-the kind of clothes you would consider appropriate for the corporate world, or church. Many of them are “older”, meaning something north of 35. Some of them are larger than size 4. They don’t all have movie-star good looks. And they deliver the news quite nicely.
Soon the election will be over. Instead of incessant political ads, we can return to our regular nausea-provoking line-up of Bernie and Phyl (haven’t you missed them and their lovely children in your face every morning?), Herb Chambers, and the endless stream of “Ask Your Doctor” ads. All of which may cause dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, loss of memory, an erection lasting longer than four hours and an uncontrollable urge to gamble. Barbie and Ken will continue their skin show and claims of “as seen ONLY on this channel!” Since it’s almost Halloween, we must next brace ourselves for the steady stream of Christmas music in the ads that start November 1st.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. Turn off the T.V. Or, hit the road to Florida.