Television: canzone

Canto I (The News):

To watch the TV news is to discover
that there is nothing new under the sun:
a movie star found with a younger lover,
convenience store held up by man with gun,
insurgents kill more soldiers by surprise,
another well-known priest accused of wrong,
the difference between fast food joints is fries,
and one more pretty face has a hit song.
The underlying story never changes,
only the details and the point of view;
we watch to prove our own theories of strangeness
and focus not on ourselves, but on you.
There is a comfort in this pap’s digestion
that leaves us feeling informed and aware;
by leaving others to ask all the questions,
all we have left is sensing we still care.
The channel doesn’t matter, just the faces;
their honesty we’ve learned to judge on sight,
and politicians, whether left or right
find us amenable to fund their races.

Canto II (Comedy):

If it were going on next door, in real life,
we probably would not think it was fun;
in fact, if some of these folks were my neighbors,
I’d probably move, or at least, buy a gun.
The basis for most comedy, it seems
is how misfortune comes to someone else,
the consequences of their crackpot schemes
to win friends, change the world, or acquire wealth.
The underlying premise never shifts,
only the patsy and the inside scoop;
we watch to give our own spirits a lift,
and to convince ourselves we’re not the dupe.
There is a comfort in this sad delight
that leaves us feeling better and advanced;
by laughing at some other’s hapless plight
we believe that our own case has a chance.
It doesn’t matter who the comic roasts,
as long as we don’t recognize ourselves,
and are not asked between guffaws to delve
into the issues that affect us most.

Canto III (Reality):

The metaphor of raw, uncensored lives
as captured in a staged and sterile form,
arranged and filtered by cutting room knives,
gives us the rain and thunder, but no storm.
The girl next door, the brain, the jock, the creep,
selected for their camera appeal
or their ability to seem so deep;
exactly what part of this sham is real?
The underlying premise never strays,
but every season, moves from place to place;
we watch to give ourselves new games to play,
to pick our favorites to win a fixed race.
There is a comfort in this grand charade
that makes us feel as if we’re really there;
we know these fools, and if their path we trod,
why surely, we would be the millionaire.
It doesn’t matter what the final prize,
as long as there is drama and suspense;
the benefit of the experience
is that it happens to some other guy.

08 APR 2004

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