Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coming To The Vast Sudan: NeoCon NeoColonialism!


Tuesday morn and another Gwen Thompkins item on NPR's 'Morning Edition. I'll try to be brief. Her 'notebook' story's premise: her passport was kept for a long time in a small town in Sudan, and jazz music from New Orleans saved the day. Why I find her reports troubling: Gwen herself perfectly embodies the NPR target audience. Educated, with grad degrees, comfortable income, plus, a well-cultivated Amero-centric point of view. That last bit is the real problem, and it's so glaring in her reports. Thing is, listeners are supposed to 'identify' with her, and in the process, objective journalism is abandoned. Colloquializing the world at large for this specific audience is not only imprudent, it is a recipe for disaster. This approach also fits well with the neo-con vision of the world, the sinister elements of which seek to take advantage of these supposedly 'informed' listeners. Subject for a thesis, I guess, but when I hear reports such as Thompkins makes from such a troubled area of the world, its frighteningly easy to identify trouble in the making.


Just another observation about Gwen Thompkins' Amero-centric expectations. She seemed incredulous that no one in a small town in Sudan (that she talked to) was familiar with jazz music.

Hell, I was talking to an all-American 20 year-old student the other day, and I happened to mention Jerry Lewis (the still-active comedian, not the congressman). 'Who's that?' they replied. I also heard of a survey that was taken in the UK in which it was found that more young people were familiar with Sinatra than they were with Mick Jagger. The Info Age has its quirks!

Naive Amero-centrics are always blown away when they find their much-vaunted culture isn't quite as widespread as they thought it was. That aside, there is a subtext that I get from Thompkins' reports. It creaks of neo-con colonialism. These benighted people do not have jazz. We will bring it to them. They do not have democracy. We will bring it to them. Whether they want it or not, because we know best.

Additionally, there is another factor regarding Sudan. I read in Robert Young Pelton's 'The World's Most Dangerous Places' that Sudan is sitting on a vast reserve of oil. If that's true, get set for another neo-con petri dish to be opened up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

NPR: A Place For Fun-Loving Prigs...and Others

I must vent!
My Reprehensible Reporting Award of the Month (soon it will be 'of the Day', then 'of the Hour'...) goes to: Gwen Thompkins. Famous for her genial and chucklesome reports from that Annexation-In-Waiting to the Axis of Evil, Sudan, I was truly disgusted with her comic book portrayal this morning of a security conference in Khartoum. Readers can hear it for themselves on today's Morning Edition website, because there's no reason to describe it all here. She tries to be funny (why is EVERYONE trying to be FUNNY these days??) by waxing wry about a few things (and playful, too!), then, with all the inconsistency of a Dan Quayle speech, decides when to be properly sober, just to satisfy the NPR quota for 'seriousness' as an appropriate tone for a report from a 'serious' part of the world - you know, Darfur and all that stuff...
Predictably, this excreta was set up by Steev 'n Renayy, with all the self-amused priggishness to be found in many of their white yuppie/baby-boomer listeners.
To me they were communicating something like: 'Now, get a load of what those bozos in icky Sudan are up to! It's quite amusing...'
My dog vomits up far more acceptable discharge than this brain-dead 'infotainment'.

In the same show, I was reminded yet again how limited the range of demographics of the NPR listenship is (that's GOOD, isn't it?). Even though NPR boasts of getting letters/call-ins from truck driver types, I can't conceive of it being of much use to blue collar listeners. NPR has always been content to write them off to the nether realms of talk radio, while preferring to woo persons of higher quality - and income.

At any rate, there was a segment about what to do about having a new boss in the workplace. Nothing too terrible in itself, but it was so blithely exclusive as far as its audience was concerned (upper echelon office types), it was just another example of NPR's self-absorbed aspirations. But at the end of the piece, after one of Steav's jackass-laughing fits, he makes a bid to remind us that NPR is still of The People when he announces that Terry Semel of Yahoo's salary last year was in the 70 millions, and the implication was 'that's rather excessive'.
End of venting. Thank you for your patience, understanding - and pity.