Happy Thursday, everybody. So what’s going on? I know. Not much, man. Absolutely nothing when you think about it. Which means it’s time for.
SONG: So many stories too upsetting to look into a bunch of news that just makes you want to cry. Then suddenly everything gets less depressing. Could the change of season be the reason why? Summer news helps you, helps you unwind. It’s silly and stupid, but, you don’t mind.
You ever wonder how local news becomes national? It happened in Montgomery, Alabama. A city owned riverboat tried to dock in its designated spot along the waterfront, but a pontoon boat was moored there. Cops say the captain of the riverboat asked the pontoon owners to move, but was ignored. And when a deckhand of the riverboat washed ashore to move the smaller boat home, the owners weren’t happy about it at all. And then this happened, mind you, what you about to see is disturbing. So if you have children in the room, punch them hard in the face as a diversion.
Woah, well, that’s disgusting. Appalling and when I’m disgusted and appalled, I need to see more.
Oh, well that hurts. And more people jumped in to defend the guy, and it turned into quite the melee or what the Irish call Friday night. But it’s what the rest of us might call just plain good TV, which explains how this quickly went from a local story to a national one. The fact is, fights are interesting. We’ll watch a fight some far away parliament rather than go to a council meeting in our own neighborhood, especially when it’s set to heavy metal.
Yes. See what I mean? But that can’t be the only reason why a story about a fight on a river front merited so much attention. Hell, cable news actually took the local press conference, the police press conference live and that’s including us. Is it because we think Aunt Helen and Boise might know one of the brawlers in Montgomery? Or are we just filling up space to help out a restless and bored and anxious country? There is no point to cover this story, but everyone did. So who’s the bad guy in this brawl? I guess I should have an opinion. If I don’t, then I’m not doing my job. I might as well be Bill Hemmer. It just makes him mad when I get home.
And I assume the other guys were parked where they weren’t supposed to be parked, and they should have just moved their boat, but they didn’t, so you end up with this fight, and because it was whites versus blacks, you got something even more newsworthy, race. I’m sure if it were white on white or black on black, it would matter less. But it wasn’t and that brings me to another vital part of the story. The black guy who got attacked says it had nothing to do with race, despite what his coworkers say and cops did consult with the FBI to determine if it could have been a hate crime. They concluded it wasn’t. After, again, the guy who got attacked told the cops he didn’t believe it was racially motivated anyway. And that’s despite another person claiming to have heard the N-word. So the guy who got jumped isn’t calling this a race fight. Then why should anybody else?
The truth is, with anything like this, there could be bad dudes and good dudes on both sides, and that’s got nothing to do with race. But the moment there are groups of a specific type, the media has taught us to see that variable first rather than the actual individuals within. Anyway, let’s be honest, the video of the fight is better than 98% of what you see on Netflix. Seriously, why have you not even noticed the writers strike? Because that void, the place where we seek entertainment, is now found in the same place as our news. News and entertainment are indistinguishable. It’s like when my wife asked me if I’ve had dinner and I say I already ate, but it was three margaritas. Drinks are dinner and entertainment is news. And the good news is the people who get in fights on planes and trains and now loading docks, they never strike. They’re always here when you need them. Maybe we should pause and give them a moment of appreciative silence.
The amazing thing about life, these days, we’ve democratized entertainment. One day you could be minding your own business, looking at videos on your phone, and the next day you’re what’s being watched in a video on that phone. It could happen to any of us. The most local of stories can go national and we treat it like news when it’s really just chewing gum for a restless and anxious soul. It’s something to do until you’ve chewed the flavor out of that event. No lasting impact unless it’s you in that video and that’s something to remember.
At any moment you can become news and the odds are you will, no one is safe, especially in the summer when the people behind the scenes stop making up the news and leave it to the rest of us. And it’s safe to say I think we’re doing a better job.