Follytix Y2K: Reality-based TV vs. cold reality


Expanded from the 11-12-2000 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

I don't know about you, but I'm just plumb peachy-keen pleased with the way the election has turned out so far.

Our political leaders have once again lived up to the standards we set for them. We demand to be constantly amused, eclectically and electrically entertained. Our candidates performed admirably.

Awhile back, an American wondered why the British royal family was kept around. They cost one helluva lot of money, have almost no role in government, and are a source of constant embarrassment.

The cold cash answer: they're good for business. The media love them. Prince Charles' nose and ears are always good for another tweak on a slow news day.

They are better for tourism than the White Cliffs of Dover or the Tower of London. The Royals allow the Brits to give visitors a good show and occasionally amuse the natives as well.

The colonies have had to try a little harder. Just before the Revolutionary War, the royalist loyalist Tories went back to England en masse. They took their titles with them.

This left the New World with the landed gentry, people like George Washington and the rest of the elitist founding fathers who rightly built mistrust of the Great Unwashed into the Constitution.

They were gentility, but not nobility. They had title to land and slaves, but were not titled themselves.

Washington reflected his upbringing when asked how he wanted to be addressed as the nation's first CEO. He responded with something like "His Esteemed Majesty and Royal Highness, George Washington, President of the United States."

Such a monicker met with just a little resistance. Washington held out for the grandiose. Cooler heads lobbied for reconsideration, so they compromised on a working title: Mr. President.

I assume that someone will let us know when a proper nomenclature is negotiated.

Washington was a man of his time. Heads of state were accorded grandiose titles. It was only proper.

The nation has long forgiven the great man's personal pomposity because of what he accomplished in forging the country. He was a wealthy landowner and veteran of the French and Indian War. He didn't need to risk hanging for commanding an army deemed doomed to certain defeat.

As has been often opined, great nations produce great leaders in times of trouble. The rest of the time, who cares?

The least that politicians can do is provide us with good sport. Al Gore and George Bush have done just that. The longest overtime game in history.

Much has been written and spoken about a contest between old morality and the future in a new economy.

Bush the Lesser promised to return us to simpler times when every family was white, dad went to work every morning after a bowl of Wheaties and returned home promptly at 5:30 to Donna Reed and his adoring children.

It never was really that way, but the Norman Rockwell/Lake Wobegon myth is not only much more pleasant than history, it can also be constantly rewritten and revamped. (See "The Way We Never Were" by Stephanie Coontz, Basic Books, 1992.)

The presidential election was the difference between the newspaper and the Internet. This column is set in cement once it hits the page. The web version can be expanded, tweaked, updated as events change.

Bush and Gore merged reality into some weird virtual version of "That's Entertainment." Bush promised a return to mythical traditional morality. (If you don't like history, you can always rewrite the script.)

Gore talked like Hal the Computer on speed. That he probably coined the term information superhighway and actually sponsored the bill which turned the military Arpanet into the public Internet was all but ignored in the virtual reality of short attention span amusement.

The hardcore reality is that we the people like both types of show. We enjoy westerns, costume dramas, Little Men and Little Women. We also dig "The Matrix" in all its virtual violent viciousness.

So we split our vote down the middle and spawned more reality-based programming. The pols gave the voters what they wanted and the voters held the show over for an extended season.

Our guys make the Brits look hopelessly outclassed.

That's follytix Y2K. That's entertainment!

BACK TO THE FUTURE. The flirtation with Ralph Nader was great, but it's time to get serious. Dubya will be a one-termer and the nation has already seen a guy in action admired by everyone: President Josiah Bartlet, occupant of the oval office most Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. on NBC's "The West Wing."

He's perfect. He looks presidential, he certainly acts that way. He has been arrested protesting nukes in Nevada and was born Martin Estevez, so the Latino vote will go crazier than Elian Gonzales' relatives. As Fred Grandy, Clint Eastwood, Helen Gahagan-Douglas, George Murphy, Sonny Bono and Ronald Reagan all proved, we are more than willing to elect actors and song-and-dance men.

Martin Sheen for president in 2004.

Read More About the fight to stop Wal-Mart

Reno News & Review:
Help Wanted at Wal-Mart

Rules for Wally World on the High Desert Plantation

THE FUTURE OF GAY BASHING. Question 2, which passed round one on Tuesday, has no chance of enshrining bigotry and prejudice in the state constitution. It will not gain final approval in 2002 because Question 9 also won last week. Once marijuana becomes generally available for purely medicinal purposes, the populace will get so mellow that people won't have enough hate left in them to vote for Q-2. Or they'll just forget about it.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT STOPPING WAL-MART. The last chance to stop Wally World in northwest Reno comes Nov. 28 before the new Reno City Council. Contact me and I'll put you on the list.

Be well. Raise hell.


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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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