Thursday, August 02, 2007

Everyone's A Critic

Am I saying stuff about NPR that's too nasty?

Why, why NO!
No, I am not. Honest!

While I certainly admire civility in communication, I don't think it's too great a sin to be somewhat cutting when it comes to NPR's performance. After all, they are in the broadcasting business (more business-like than ever), and the P in NPR still stands, perhaps ostensibly, for 'public'. Anyone in public life or business has to be prepared for criticism. To my mind, that's the chief reason for this blog. I criticize NPR out of frustration, disappointment, and sometimes anger. Not because I want everything my way, but because all indications show that NPR isn't doing what they're supposed to be doing, and much evidence shows that they're cooperative with certain agendas in play in this country right now. That and other reasons make them worthy of criticism.

So I say, let it fly.

That said, responding to an earlier comment, I do indeed think NPR News' attempts in cultural matters are at times worse than their political coverage. Too many examples to note here, but to cite only one, I heard the gooey Liane Hansen and the occasional NPR film music 'maven' Andy Trudeau suavely yakking about the score to 'High Noon' on a recent Sunday morning. I don't want to bore anyone with my take on their mediocre ramblings, though Trudeau is no idiot when he's talking strictly about film scoring, but he plainly dumbs everything down for Liane and her listeners. The thing is, these NPR lifers usually muck up a potentially interesting segment by inflicting their unappealing personalities into every aspect of the subject at hand. This process is sometimes overt, and sometimes passive-aggressive. Liane had to put in her tiresome baby-boomer two cents, especially when she responded with disdain to Ray Conniff's quite sophisticated version of the theme song. Scarcely anything was said about the composer himself, Dimitri Tiomkin, one of cinema's more fascinating characters, or the evolution of 'High Noon' in the midst of McCarthyism. I'm dissecting this to such an extent because, while I applaud anyone who takes on interesting and esoteric subjects, I'm just amazed how the NPR treatment tends to end up with such a low common denominator. But of course that's expecting too much. Well, you can't please every listener, that's for sure, but the poor quality of many of their cultural probings is only indicative of the limitations of the personnel involved. That's only one reason why I don't treat NPR News as a finger-on-the-pulse cultural source. As we know, good and valuable cultural coverage certainly exists elsewhere on public radio, depending on the station. That’s why I’m referring specifically to NPR News here.

Style note: as I write this, I have ATC on in the background. Missy Melissa (Block) is interviewing the Gov. of Minnesota about the recent and awful bridge collapse. She is talking in a fairly normal, non-cutesy manner (mainly because she isn't smirk-smiling as usual while she's talking). Now this is a serious subject, so she's not acting overtly cute, which means, she can talk without affectation if she wants to. That's what I mean by NPR persons inflicting their personalities on listeners. It's not responsible broadcasting!!

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