Thursday, July 29, 2010


Aren't the most prominent nightly news anchors and the sleaziest porn stars pretty much in the same position at this point in our warped media world? Turn on any American national newscast, morning or evening, and the female anchors seem to look exactly like any other triple-x starlet leering at you from a million and one 'illicit' websites. They both want you to tune in and shut down that part of your brain that responds to actual, complicated stimulation. Better to watch pretty people talking, no matter what it is that they are actually saying.

Who becomes a porn star? Who becomes a news anchor?

The former position, at least, has the novelty of what was once considered risque and is now deemed mainly mainstream. Performing that most intimate of acts, with strangers, for money, while being filmed, in order to be watched by other strangers. There are levels to this endeavor that form scaffolding within our psyches that wobbles whenever we try to walk across the various logistical explanations that come into play. More than money is at stake. One's soul, one's sense of self, one's relation to one's body -- all of these factors form the psychological backdrop to the face-in-ecstasy that is being faked for our pleasure. The danger involved may be fake, as artificial as the green grass on the fields within the steel domes of that other favorite American pastime, baseball, but danger is relative. The possibility of being exposed as a porn star tramp by one's own grandmother back in the generic gentility of midwestern America surely has a whiff of danger and excess that proves titillating for the most bored of transplanted California twentysomethings.

A newsanchor's job is, on the surface, bland and inoffensive. A pretty person reads the news. Who would aspire to such a position? Granted, we live in a world that does not exist outside of a screen. If you are not on it, you are not in it. The world has been reduced to that which we can flick and change at a moment's notice. Reality moves and grooves to the blunt touch of our index fingers. To be on that screen is to own a little slice of reality, no matter how fluid and impermanent such a position might be. Securing a nightly position in that world is akin to a queen sitting on her throne while her subjects listen obediently to every word.

One can never adequately enter into someone else's head, but think of the psychology of such an ambition: I want to have other people watch me talk about the news. How bizarre! To be a producer, to shape a story, to write it up and send it out -- this goal I can understand. Perhaps most CNN anchors do this nitty-gritty dirtywork as well? But to be an anchorperson, alone.

Even more interesting is the national characteristics inherent behind each pretty (or not-so-pretty-face) that smiles daily at us behind their plastic screen. In Canada, the women are usually pretty, but not gorgeous. On the BBC, the women seem as if they could be found at your local library, behind the desk, reminding you not to be late with your returns. Japanese TV personalities, I was told, often have exceptionally large ears, because that is deemed 'cute'. American anchors most often seem to have stepped off of a nudie film or the nearest plastic surgery clinic and into the comfy chair that holds their butt while they fulfill their life's ambition of being watched reporting on earthquakes and plane crashes before switching to stories about cute abandoned puppies finally having found a foam. A malleable personality bobs and weaves from tragedy to comedy with the turn of the head, the flick of the hair, the widening abyss of her smile.

In Grade 3 a teacher informed me that she could see me hosting the evening news one day. Even then, the notion baffled and perplexed me. Why would she think I would like such a role? I wanted to write, to be a motorcycle cop, to make movies. Was my true destiny to read the news?

Of course, even now, perhaps, somebody has randomly found this blog and is sitting reading these words and wondering why I think what I have to say is so desperately important that it must be read by strangers. I find that I can't answer that imaginary inquiry. All ambitions have roots in our psyche that our too tangled to unravel. YouTube channels are filled with videos of people giving comments on every imaginable topics, with insight far more substantial than these meager words.

Doubt creeps into my conscience. Who am I to scorn the dreams of others? I suddenly realize that both the anchorwoman and the adult actress are looking into cameras only asking to be seen. On a grander scale than most of us, but the intent is identical to our own daily wishes, and my own attempts at immortality: Look at me and I will know that I am alive. A face unseen is a face left dead. A shout without an echo is the saddest sound of all.