I’m done with school, which means that I’m now looking for employment. I consider myself to be an able individual. I can read (ladies?). I can lift heavy things and dig holes (ladies?). I’m a good learner (fellas?). I’m pretty cuddly (kitties?). And I think that a parenthetical remark punctuated by a question mark means eyebrows up (editors?). But I want to put my efforts and talents to good use.
Sure, I could come up with an evil pun. You know those balls that you put on the back of your truck to make it look like your truck has balls? You might. Probably, though, you don’t know that none of them are being marketed with a pun like, oh, I dunno, CARJóNES — BOOM! An entire industry devastated and I am now rich!
But, wait, all those non-pun marketed Truck Nutz™ will go bankrupt! Think of all the lives I’ve ruined! “Oh no! We’ve been blue-balled on the stock market!” “What?!” “We’re poor!” “No, I meant, ‘What?! You’re a publically traded company?!’” “Yes, we’re BLS on the NYSE.”
Balls on the stock market indeed! I can’t sink all those pensions. No, I must only use my powers for good.
“Like jokes about balls?”
Yeah, like jokes about balls. What, have you been reading my idea diary?
“Well, what’s your plan if jokes about balls don’t work out?”
A short film about balls? Uhhh, a novel about balls? Oh no, plan B is also plan A!
So, until my plans come to fruition I’m going to need some spending money. I’m thinking solution journalism can provide me with the pocket change I need to get to the city and back. Ya see, traditional news media is a little too problem oriented for my liking. I’m not sure if the inventor of news was just really interested in random people getting murdered, but I am not. Oh, what’s that? He was? Great, it’ll make my jokes easier to write.
“The Nootka of Vancouver Island, for example, would exchange plenty of important news on fishing, on the chief’s activities, on plans for war. But they also pricked up their ears at word that someone was having an affair.” The Nootka, you say? Well, I guess some random group will serve as good an example as any from history.
So, it’s ”important news”. Why is murder “important news” if you don’t know the person?
“Now I know where I shouldn’t move!”
Aww, too bad, I hear real estate’s cheap where murders are rampant. Too bad you don’t like murder; and yet you keep watching all those shows about murder. How strange!
“Yeah, I love Noun but I wouldn’t want to live in a Place Where Noun is Common.” (Look, If I can write that joke, so can you. Give it a shot. GROSS, WHY DID YOU FILL IN THE BLANKS WITH “POO” AND “BUTTS”?! Oh, you let your five-year-old on? Ok. Try again. “Chopped up chicken parts” and “conveyer belt where chicken parts are chopped up”? Oh, you let your dog on? Ok. “Absurd Noun” and “Place Where Absurd Noun is Found” ? Oh, you let your Noun You Wouldn’t Expect to Use a Computer on? Why do you even have that in your house?!)
Now that we’ve deconstructed a joke (boom!), we can deconstruct the news (ka-pow!).
I think that a lot of the journalism I see presents a very disempowering narrative, with no role for the audience beyond that of passive observer or victim. A lot of the stuff I encounter also strikes me as superficial in terms of analyses, which leads, I suspect, to the perpetuation a lot of inaccurate conceptualizations about the nature of, broadly speaking, human endeavor.
“Ugh, what happened to the balls?”
I’m openin’ your eyes to some pretty big balls: THE STATE OF THE NEWS.
If the news is just you saying, “Hey, what’s up, ‘Merica?” it makes sense for you to find out what’s going on in terms of every day life. But isn’t there an unspoken rule about not overwhelming people with bad news? I wouldn’t wanna get caught with America in an elevator. “Jim died the other day, and Kevin, and Sallly, and Marmaduke, and…” That’s gonna be a long way down to the ground floor! It’s like the genealogies from the Old Testament, except instead of people begettin’, people be dyin’ (and women be shoppin’!).
Murders happen all the time. I’d say they’re no more news than births are a miracle. “Births are a miracle!” Then why isn’t the news van heading to the maternity ward? “You’re anti-baby!” No, I’m serious: why isn’t the news van heading to the maternity ward? Random births are as relevant to your life as random deaths, and, last I heard, babies are cuter than cadavers. “Why not combine the two?!” Euch; you pitch that one to Fox.
I’m not a fan of the rule that we shouldn’t say anything that might be a downer to another person. I tend to encourage talking about whatever’s causing someone distress because I think people should knowingly and collectively fulfill the needs of others, amongst which I include emotional well being. So, go ahead, America, tell me about your day–unload!– and tell me what I can do to help.
And since I don’t think the media focuses enough on what people are doing to help fulfill fundamental needs or what I can do to help, I’m going to find out myself.