Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Crying? There's no crying in the news!"

Or at least, that's what I wish.

I was busy working on something last night. The local news ended and the network (CBS, I think) news came on.

And they were talking about how some California school districts were having to consolidate, and how Everyone Is Sad About That.

They interviewed a teacher who expressed fear that students would "fall through the cracks" in her class, now that she was 30 students.

They interviewed a little girl who was disappointed to be in such a crowded class. She said "Kids talk and I can't hear the teacher." (Okay, honey: here's a lesson in being a squeaky wheel. Bitch at the kids about being noisy. Bitch to the teacher that she's not shutting up the kids. Frankly, I'd like to see more cases of teachers being able to throw disruptive kids out of their class).

And they interviewed a little boy. Who started to cry. That's when I groaned and hunted down the clicker to change channels. Yup, he was crying. Why? Because he had to leave his old school, and apparently, all his friends went to different schools now and oh, how sad it was.

And this is what drives me NUTS about how these kinds of narratives are presented. Find the crying kid. Or the scared senior who thinks she's going to be eating cat food to survive. Or whatever.

And you know? We're just in a damn bad time now. I wouldn't be at all surprised if 40 years hence they refer to this as the Little Depression, or even the Second Great Depression. Cuts are gonna have to be made. People will be sad.

Hell, if the narrative went the other way, they could find a mom who was sad because she wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom with her kids, but because of the current tax-and-inflation situation, both she and her husband have to work full time to make ends me. Or someone like me, who is frankly kind of depressed because of how ugly the future looks: I don't anticipate having a comfortable retirement like my parents are, DESPITE having $700 of every paycheck put in a TIAA-CREF plan, DESPITE scraping together $4K a year to put in my Roth, DESPITE paying into my state teacher's retirement - I don't believe any of that is going to be there in 30 years, or if it is, it will be so diminished by inflation that I will probably spend my 'golden years' working as a greeter at whatever the 2040 version of Wal-mart is. And that makes me sad and frustrated and angry.

The thing that enrages me about putting a crying kid on the news is how exploitative it is - not just of the kid but of the feelings of everyone watching. I hate being told how to feel about something, and that's precisely what the news is doing. (Which is why, except for situations like this one - where the news came on while I was busy doing something else - I get all of my national/world news these days from reading it seems less pornographic that way.)

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