lovehate: 2009 - The Year of Distractions

There was a whole crapload of freaky, scary stuff that happened all over the world this past year. It's a shame that most of us got, at best, glimpses into what are probably some of the most pressing and meaningful issues of the day while most news outlets decide to spend the majority of their time on mindless minutiae, or buying into slants of stories that are promoted to shunt us away from truth. 2009 suffered the media equivalent of someone pointing up to a phantom airplane, and while everyone else looked, they'd run away.

Here's only some of the stuff that occupied WAY too much time on the airwaves this year:

Michael Jackson: Sure he was talented, but he died. There were a whole bunch of other talented people who died this year, some who may not even have heard about before. That we had to sit through 24 hour coverage, for weeks on end, on where, how, and why he died  spoke not as much to any crime, talent or celebrity, but more about how news networks love to retell the same story 8000 ways when they have plenty of archived footage to use up. And why not kick in a film for good measure.

Tiger Woods: I don't care that a golfer screwed around on his wife more than the guy who works in the convenience store down the street. If you have couples living to the left and right of you at this moment, odds are one of the four are screwing around with someone. He golfs. He's an idiot. He will return. And our Schadenfreude will know no bounds.

Susan Boyle: Yay! A foppish English tart can sing! Who gives a shit? Anyone can sing... maybe not in tune, but at least they hit continuum. Everywhere I turned for a month there was some new story about the downward spiral of this complete fabrication of "reality television" and how she took the public, content with shitty quality mp3s and autotune voices to heights of ecstasy. If I never hear of her again, I will not shed a thought.

Balloon Boy: Even if the story was true, it should still not have garnered the attention it did. Why does the story of some kid in a balloon rate higher than the millions who starve every day? You know what they say: one child not floating in a balloon reported on by thousands of reporters is a tragedy. One million children starving and not being reported on at all is a statistic.

Copenhagen: Hey, let's drum up vision of sugar plums, or at least the Little Mermaid and take everyone's attention off what's really being done at these conferences... do you think they're really discussing climate change? Scientists discuss climate change. World and corporate leaders discuss how to make money and political spin off of climate change. Whether you buy into the changes in the weather or not, rest assured climate change for the good or bad of every day people was low on the list in terms of the real discussions in Copenhagen.

Swine Flu: Quick, let's come up with a sexier, sci-fi sounding name like H1N1. Let's threaten old people and children with it. Let's spend hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars on vaccines that haven't been tested. Let's make sure everyone is scared enough to line up for hours to get the shots. Let's keep scaring everyone so that they don't realize we've spent so much money during a brutal depression on propping up the stock of Glaxo Smyth Kline. Let's try to figure out a way to not let people know that within a year we will have tens of millions of doses expiring in warehouses around the country when the final bill collectors come knocking.

Chris Brown and Kanye West: Fuck you both. Combined you idiots wasted more of my time with senseless drivel than any other asinine talentless duo except maybe...

Jon and Kate Plus 8: What the fuck? Do I really have to have news devolve to the point that reality show characters have become headline worthy? If that's the case, I may as well treat everyone on the news like a reality show character. Hey look! It's Barack Obama from Political Idol... I wonder if he'll get voted out of the house this week?

Octomom: Some stupid woman gets some stupid doctor to give her some stupid fertility pills and she pops out 8 kids and I'm supposed to give a shit? This is crap we would have laughed about in supermarket tabloids 15 years ago and now its international news. My how we have gotten dumber! The only time I ever want to hear the Octo prefix again is during a trailer for an upcoming Spiderman or a Discovery Channel show.

We are idiots. We allow this to happen through passivity or sheer ambivalence.

In most revolutionary handbooks one of the first things you are told to do is take over all the television and radio stations. By taking control of the media, you can control the public. If you count the hours you were exposed to these stories this year, and assume that those that control media are trying to control you, start to ask: to what end? 

Aren't broadcasters federally regulated? Doesn't this mean we (at least theoretically) could take some control back over mass media outlets? If we were at all going to buy into the Roland Emmerich pitch that the world would end in 2012, I'd say that 2009 was a pretty good case for thinking it might not be a bad thing... at least we wouldn't notice anyway... not if a celebrity had sex with an alien.

lovehate: Things That Happened While The World Watched the MJ Awards Show... sorry... Memorial.

There has rarely been more irony than watching a cast of singers gather on a stage singing "We Are The World" while hundreds of millions of people look on and effectively IGNORE the world which marches on with precious time to care for a dead entertainer.

Below are just some things that happened in the world on the day that the hordes sat transfixed watching what will probably be nominated for a daytime Emmy next year:

"Thousands of angry Han Chinese, many of them armed and seeking vengeance for deaths in rioting two days earlier, surged through the capital of the northwestern region of Xinjiang on Tuesday looking for Uighur targets... "It's your time to suffer," they shouted at some of the five and six-storey apartment blocks lining Xinfu Road, which protesters said saw some of the worst destruction in Sunday's riots that killed 156 people and injured 1,080.

"Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on Tuesday accepted a U.S.-backed effort by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to mediate in Honduras and said talks with his rivals would begin on Thursday."

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday the disputed presidential election was the world's "freest" vote, while opposition leaders criticized the "security state" imposed after the polls... Human rights activists say 2,000 people, including opposition leaders, academics, journalists and students may still be in detention

"Major economies tried on Tuesday to break the deadlock between rich and poor nations over 2050 goals for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at a last-minute meeting before an expanded G8 summit in Italy."

"Benin has declared a state of emergency and called for international humanitarian aid after floods hit the south of the West African country. The government estimates that some 2,000 families have already been displaced by flooding caused by heavy rains and it appealed late on Monday for immediate help to prevent the imminent spread of epidemics."

"Along the road to Afgooye, west of Mogadishu, half a million people are living in temporary shelters made from sticks and plastic sheeting and there is very limited access to health care. There is a desperate shortage of food and water, and settlements of internally displaced people are overcrowded, posing a serious risk for epidemics, such as measles or cholera."

"Two bombs exploded in two restive areas in the southern Philippines on Tuesday, killing two people and wounding dozens , officials said, prompting authorities to step up security around state offices in the capital Manila."

lovehate: 7 Things No Less Horrifying than a MJ Memorial Lottery

Some, not-so-far-fetched events considering lotteries for dead celebs are up for grabs:

1) The Karl Malden Memorial Bingo - Considering Malden was a senior (even to seniors), there surely must be some kind of promotion we can incorporate whereby the Bingo card maps out the streets of San Francisco. With a full card Bingo you get to attend a Karl Malden Memorial Around the Bay police chase.

2) The Steve McNair Memorial NFL Fantasy League - In honour of McNair, you can only pick NFL players from Alcorn State or other Division I-AA schools. The winner gets lunch with OJ and the exclusive rights to sell any photos from that lunch to CNN's "Lunch With OJ" coverage which culminates in a 12 hour marathon Larry King interview with Regis Philbin about their memories of working in NY in the 1890s.

3) The Fred Travelena Memorial Scavenger Hunt - The goal is to find someone under 30 who can tell you who Fred Travelena is. The winner moves on to the Rich Little Scavenger Hunt. Rich Little isn't dead, but the goal here is to find someone who thinks he's still alive.

4) The Billy Mays Memorial OxiClean Chili Cook-Off - Trying to determine the tastiest and spiciest chili, not by actually tasting it, but by standing on a soapbox and pitching it. The winner gets a year's supply of OxiClean - but if they win NOW, the prize is doubled for the next 15 minutes.

5) The Farrah Fawcett Memorial Hardball Classic - Every team is named the Angels. When you get to each base, you have to stop, turn, face the camera and flip your hair. To score a run you have to fight Ryan O'Neal. The winner gets dinner with Kate Jackson, the Jaclyn Smith miniseries DVD library, and an autographed copy of Cheryl Ladd's blockbuster, Millennium.

6) The Ed McMahon Memorial... gee... I'm stumped. I can't think of anything lottery or sweepstakes-like concept to associate with McMahon. Oh well.

7) The David Carradine Memorial Kumite - Ralph Macchio hosts an amateur competition of people who have never been trained in karate... wow, I think I just came up with two new hours of programming for FOX - So You Think You Know Karate... anyway, they flail wildly at each other until one remains. The winner gets a trip to Thailand where get to engage in one of the great Thai pastimes, auto-erotic asphyxiation.

thinglets: Ain't No Sunshine - Michael Jackson

In as much as I like Bill Withers far more than I like MJ, this is a great version of Withers' classic track as recorded by a young MJ. The anti-pop sensibilities of my teen years made me ignore most Michael Jackson (as though one could), but there was no denying the talent and dedication to craft for several decades.

Peace out MJ.