January 26, 2011

OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION, AND THE STATE OF REPORTING: IF YOU HAVE NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE TO SAY, GET READY TO BE LIVE-SNARKED

If you look at the feeds that have been popping up throughout the night (and no, I didn't watch the State of the Union, I tried to sleep, I am in Europe, you know. But I did read the advance copy of the speech and had to stop myself from yawning, so hey, something good did come out of this speech, I got tired)... but anyway, if you look at how the American media on the web, not to mention on television, covered this annual bloat-fest that remind us how stifled, how meaningless these big moments in time have become, I would suggest to you to read Alex Pareene's live-blogging of it at Salon.
9:50 "The final step to winning the future is going back in time and destroying SkyNet before it becomes sentient." No, sorry, apparently the final step is DEFICIT DEFICIT DEFICIT etc. etc. etc. (Also, shit, this is the final step? Bipartisan seating makes this go so fast!) No applause for Eisenhower. Or for "painful cuts."
Is this funny? Hell, yes, it is. It is also superficial, without depth and without any meaningful argument. We can use this type of style at the Oscars (andother bloated, meaningless annual event), because the stakes at the Oscars are so low that you would need to do a limbo to get beneath them. After all, who gives a crap other than a couple of dozens of agents and producers and call girls about which actor will do a meaningless ramble of "thank you's" towards the camera?

And even Keith Olbermann must be admonished, for his Twitter updates play in the same category, more a sportscasting update than meaningful analysis (how to do meaningful on Twitter? You don't), something he even acknowledged by stating
9:11:30 to 10:12:57. Official #FOKNewsChannel time of game: 1:01:27
Only this isn't supposed to be a game. This is supposed to be the moment the American president lays out not only what the state of the union is, but also what the hell is supposed to happen next. Amidst all of the fluff and folksy anecdotes (and that must have broken the White House researching staff's back, and not merely this White House's), the entire speech can be summarised into two sentences.
The State of the Union is strong (gosh, isn't it always?). We are going to redistribute spending, and if you Republicans don't want to follow, I'll be sitting my black ass down in the Oval once more in 2012.
Whoooopeee! See, there were no real measures talked about, but only commonplace platitudes. We are the best, the most innovative, we can outcompete, we can do new energy (you never will do new energy, and even if you do, a lot of shit comes with those technologies as well, and hell, if you ever been in Germany, you'd know that).

But here's the problem. If you lower the stakes, if you in politics - and yes, don't run away, Republicans, you are a big part of that, don't you dare run away - care about nothing that those platitudes, the superficiality of it all, if you make the State of the Union address a ritual, celebratory or not, that is akin to the Oscar night or the Golden Globes...

... snark is all you are going to get. And all you deserve.