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November 2008 Archives

November 5, 2008

Help me, Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope

So, during its election coverage last night, CNN debuted its new hologram technology that makes field reporters seem to be in the studio. Here's the clip:

What's the point of the hologram technology (which I assume involves the reporter/interviewee standing in front of a green screen)? If you're sending a reporter into the field, isn't showing what's going on in the background around them providing more useful context to the viewer than just showing more of the studio set?

Maureen Ryan does think that there are some benefits to getting the correspondent out of the scrum and into a cordoned off area to give a more coherent report. But why the hologram? Why not have the correspondent do a voice over over footage of the event that she's reporting?

What I found so aggravating about watching coverage (particularly of the speeches at the end of the night) was the need for the on-air personalities to make sure that there was someone talking at all times (Brian Williams and Katie Couric were the ones I noticed exhibiting this trait, but I just happened to be between NBC and CBS at the time). After Obama's speech, instead of just showing the crowds and letting the viewers listen to their cheering, both Williams and Couric were talking about "what [Obama] must feel" and such.

This is a symptom of the same hubris that led to CNN's expensive hologram. Instead of using the TV medium to show us the news and use visuals to provide useful analysis, the networks seem more obsessed with showing the importance their news teams coverage of events rather than the intrinsic importance of those events. Instead of sending more reporters and crews out in the field to get different opinions from the electorate, CNN spent that money on a hologram booth.

None of the channels I watched had much interesting to discuss during the lulls between reporting results. The exit poll demographics are moderately interesting. Some of the analysis can be useful (especially having someone like CNN's Jeffery Toobin on hand to explain the legal issues of voting that might come up during the night.) But much of it is no more than pundits being in love with their own voices.

Fred Armisen playing with the touchscreen map on SNL's Weekend Update may be one of the more perceptive media critiques of this campaign.

(The obvious headline shamelessly borrowed from Sepinwall)

November 6, 2008

These United States

These United States released a new album earlier this fall, titled Crimes full of rollicking songs for people with beards, by people with beards. And for everyone else, too. The music of These United States is a throwback to earlier, simpler times while still feeling relevant and fresh.

Here's the video for Get Yourself Home:

These United States on iLike - Get updates inside iTunes

While it's not the first, it is a good example of what a talented editor can do with the wonderful resource of public domain film material available at the Internet Archive.

Built from 40+ public domain films, the video for "Get Yourself Home" by These United States uses the free and long forgotten footage of the Prelinger Archives. With each clip, a resurrected moment of early film history offers itself up to be woven into the fabric of a whole new American narrative. From the main character, who comes from a 1930's propaganda film about the importance of workers' unions, to the passing scenes of carnivals, cabarets and the great wild West, all come together to evoke the contrasting emotions, environments, sins, schemes, devils and delusions that bind us on These United States' newest release "Crimes."

MP3: West Won
MP3: Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous)

These United States come to NYC on Nov 19 at the Knitting Factory Tap Bar.

Knowledgability is Powerful

Continuing from yesterday, here is another annoying trend of television news reporting: attempting to sound smarter by needlessly using excessively long words.

In this clip that's been going around the web today, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron twice uses the word "knowledgeability" where the shorter and more direct "knowledge" would have sufficed.

Or is knowledge:knowledgeability :: truth:truthiness

November 19, 2008

Chuck Klosterman Reviews Chinese Democracy

At The A.V. Club, Chuck Klosterman reviews Chinese Democracy

Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom? ...

It's as if Axl is desperately trying to get some unmakeable dream song from inside his skull onto the CD, and the result is an overstuffed maelstrom that makes all the punk dolts scoff. His ambition is noble, yet wildly unrealistic. It's like if Jeff Lynne tried to make Out Of The Blue sound more like Fun House, except with jazz drumming and a girl singer from Motown.

About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Buzz Rant & Rave in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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