Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Trivial pursuit
The news media have two general categories of information they can impart: Things we need to know and things we want to know. Many more acute observers than I have pointed out the conflict between them. Many have lamented that television news in particular is no longer a "pure" public service (which, cynicism aside, I believe it once was). But since it is now a clear and significant profit center for the networks that produce it, it is therefore obligated to gloss over difficult subjects so they won't drive too many viewers away.

In which of these categories falls Michael Jackson's nose? We clearly do not need to know: Can that be possible that we want to know?

Well, something led me to follow the chain of links from InstaPundit to Blogs4God to Anomalies Unlimited's The HisTory of Michael Jackson's face. (I am deeply ashamed.) The "HisTory" offers ample photographic documentation of Mr Jackson's deteriorating features. I suspect NBC will offer no further insight into the question without which this is "simple" archive retrieval: What was he thinking?

I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I spent no more than five minutes on this task. No hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce nor promote nor sponsor an hour-long program on the subject; nor indirectly support those who will / did by purchasing products. Five minutes from the origin of curiosity to its satisfaction. The web is a wonderful place.

I suppose that curiosity of this sort is a special case of "want to know". In which case, I have one further curiosity that will probably remain unsatisfied: How many things that I need to know will go unreported for want of the resources being allocated to Michael Jackson's nose?

'Dateline' to spotlight Michael Jackson's face
The series can ''run the gamut from important, serious shows like Tom Brokaw's fantastic hour on Iraq to ridiculous but fascinating hours on Michael Jackson's face,'' [NBC Entertainment President Jeff] Zucker told the Television Critics Association.

Ah. Ridiculous. Entertainment. That makes it all right, then. That makes it OK to pick Michael Jackson's nose (oh, how I fought not to phrase it that way, but some events defy, I say, defy any attempt to maintain standards) for an hour (well, 48 minutes less commercials) on national television (which isn't worth what it used to be, what with the fractured viewer base and declining share, but is still a fair sized chunk of change).

Who will knowingly choose to sponsor this show? Clearasil? Revlon? Six Flags? NAMBLA?

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