My computer has been broken for almost a week, and I've been watching T.V. Shows in the meantime.
Having to watch T.V. Shows this last week, I've come to realize that T.V. sucks, man. How can I look at one thing for a half of one full hour? It's hard. I should be watching one of these shows on a small window on the bottom left of my screen while I do 25 other things. Watching T.V. Shows full-screen and without side dishes is soooooo hard.
I noticed there's a lot of kook shows on the air right now. What you'd used to only find on Art Bell's Coast to Coast radio show is now pretty mainstream. I like crazy folks, it's not that I ever believe what they say, but it's usually very entertaining and (very rarely) edifying to listen to the opinions they wish to present.
Alright, so here's my take on two kooky shows that I saw.
First though, I want to present some kook 101 terminology beforehand so it's not always in parenthesis after the statement (which is out of place and dumb looking). The following are terms I use to refer to certain kooks:
Class A: Person who says the most insane nonsense for the sole reason of drawing attention to themselves and gaining money from the strange things they say/write. This person DOES NOT believe anything they say, they do it simply for the exposure, fame, and profit.
Class AA: Person who claims to be an investigative journalist who is exposing strange things. They, like single-A, DO NOT believe what they say and the "investigations" are a farce. Good examples of these are big foot trackers, ghost hunters, conspiracy investigators (exposers of the "truth" so to speak).
Class B: Person who says the most insane nonsense...but truly and honestly believes what they are saying.
Class BB: Person who is legitimately and certifiably delusional and/or totally fucking kooked-out crazy. These people are hopefully in institutions and not allowed in public due to them being a violent danger to themselves or others.
Alright, so with that terminology out of the way...let's begin the pending review.
Jesse Ventura - Conspiracy Theory
I didn't know what to make of "The Body" after I found out he went full-blown into the conspiracy investigation field. He's from a pretty legit background...he's an ex-marine, ex-governor, and of course ex-pro wrestler. He's been in the political field and actually knows a thing or two about it, so it's interesting to hear his views on certain matters.
Jesse is a witty and interesting guy. I always listen to the Stern show when Jesse comes on it but only recently saw his Conspiracy show. Jesse seems to want to come across as an investigative journalist, but does he pull it off or does he devolve into a total Class AA kook?
First of all, the word "Conspiracy" itself is a bad way to go. Real investigative journalists avoid this word and don't use it. When they investigate something they will refer to it as a "fraud", a "scam", or a really big organized scam as "collusion." The word "Conspiracy" is a really loaded word...as soon as you say it to someone they start to think about martians, voo doos, and bigfoots.
The music, camera effects, and overall direction of the show tends to try and milk that word for all its worth. You almost half expect a bigfoot to be hiding behind some corridor or tree when he walks by it. He was in that movie "Predator" and that's what I think the director is going for with this show. The music and camera angles make you think a predator monster is gonna jump out and maul Jesse at any given time.
Despite the obvious sensationalism of the show, he retains his wit and still comes off as being intelligent and interesting. He even flashes signs of skepticism in some cases, reminding the viewer that he hasn't gone off the deep end (right at moments where you think he might have). When faced with asinine and extremely silly conspiracies he's not afraid to go full skeptic on someone. My favorite instance being when he calls out that dope David Icke for being a total Class A kook, he even straight out asks him how many books he's sold due to the crap he says.
It's odd in this genre of programming to flash skepticism on the audience because you might lose viewers. His target audience is not the type to want to hear him tell them that there's no aliens in area 51 or lizard men running society like David Icke tells them. Don't worry though, Jesse does enough to placate to his target audience to make up for the occasional bursts of rationality. The most annoying thing he does to placate to his target demographic is invite that Alex Jones on the show all the time.
Jones is a hybrid of Class A and Class AA (with a splash of Class B). I think he displays some interesting critiques of government and society at times but it is lost between tirade after tirade of inane yelling and invective. The thing that I dislike most about him is his fans, they think that listening to him or reading prison planet/info wars makes them know-it-alls. He's kind of like the Insane Clown Posse, that band is kind of interesting but when you see the legions of fans behind them (juggaloes) you are instantly turned off to ICP due to the immense retardation of their fans. Same for Jones, his legions of retarded fans make him unbearable.
Oh man. You thought the comparison of Alex Jones to Insane Clown Posse was a bit of a stretch? Well, what do you think of that above video then? Honestly, his shtick is so un-entertaining, I mean he's either yelling like a fool or acting like a clown (sometimes even literally), there's times where you think he's actually a genuine Class-B kook.
All in all, I think Jesse is above the morass when it comes to Class-AA "investigators" and I think he's a really smart and interesting fellow but ultimately his sensationalized presentation and usage of Alex Jones makes this show a lot less palatable. Obviously to make money he needs to placate to a certain target market, I understand that, but just for me personally this show is pretty bad.
Weird or What?
Another show I happened upon this week whilst my good computer was broken was William Shatner's "Weird or What?" program.
Shatner presents some phenomena that invokes wonder and then proceeds to try and figure out what the heck caused this. Where have I seen this premise before? Hmmm....It seems similar in nature to Charles Fort's excellent 1919 text...The Book of the Damned.
Charles Fort's book written in 1919 is a very good read because it has a very strange formula to it. Fort basically states a strange phenomena that he collected from a newspaper/other source and then proceeds to basically try and rationalize what happened to cause the phenomena. It's strange in the sense that he at some point (not always off the bat and not always right at the end) will always present the most rational, logical, and simple explanation. Yet he wraps the logical explanation around paragraphs and paragraphs of imaginative theories, utter nonsense, philosophy, views on life, and a myriad of questions.
I have a bunch of quotes of his to show his writing style but I'm gonna try and emulate his style instead (just for fun). The following is me trying to write in the style of one Charles Hoy Fort....
In American Science Journal v.1 pp26-29, a man in Hartford, Ct. was struck in the head by a golden cicada roach which he states fell from alarming heights onto his head whilst he was cleaning his rag wheel.
Golden cicadas are not a known native species of Connecticut, making this particular datum highly intriguing. Was the man a collector of foreign insect specimena? Surely not, do not jest. He stated to the inquirer that he loathes bugs of all sorts.
Could a dimensional portal to lands unknown be the culprit to this conundrum? How could a foreign bug have landed on his head had it not been from at not least countries unknown if not from worlds unknown? How do we know that when roaches die they do not pass through some temporary vortex into the atmosphere to disintegrate their worldly tissues? Would it be commendable to recommend to the esteemed investigator of this phenomena that the cicada may have been an insect who existed millions of years in the past?
Seemingly some may think the species came upon ships trading goods from the orient yet how would that explain the bug's inter-dimensional time traveling?
Perhaps the investigator failed to figure that a wind tunnel formed above the farmer's property whilst he was cleaning his rag wheel and that wind tunnel just happened to have caught a cicada who was blown away in a terrible hurricane who's origin may or may not have been the Mei Goren Sino kingdom of modern China?
Here today gone the next. Wind is a funny thing is it not? Blowing around all sorts of dusts of life and golden bugs. Wind is a very transient affair I must say. Whipping up vicious storms in all corners of the world over. Blowing everything around from humans and trees just like dust and bugs or even golden cicadas.
Ok, that was my best Charles Fort impression. Now back to my original point, if you'll notice...the most logical explanation is mentioned, that the bug likely came to Connecticut via a cargo vessel from the orient, yet that simple (and BORING) explanation is buried under a myriad of highly imaginative suppositions and some fun philosophy is thrown in at the end.
Fort says in the Book of the Damned that the simplest and right answer is quite boring, and all the imaginative things that collective human minds have come up with, even though wrong, should be recorded into history for what I'd assume is for entertainment purposes. Fort calls these imaginative yet erroneous thoughts, the "Ghosts of the Mind," and refers to Ghost of The Mind datum as something worth collecting. Hey, some people collect stamps, some people collect shoes, some people collect baseball cards....and then there's guys like Fort who collect erroneous datum (or Ghosts of the Mind).
Fort once stated,
"I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written." -Charles Fort
That's where the real entertainment value is. Art Bell (the host of Coast to Coast) understood this too, Art let his guests express the most asinine and ludicrous explanations and theories on his radio program...yet he never ever actually said he believed what they were saying. Art would have the kookiest dudes on to talk about aliens, lizards, and 5th dimensions...but he never ever said implicitly that he agreed with any of the guests opinions. He just liked having some Ghosts of the Mind statements travel over the airwaves to people's ears, I guess.
Anyway, that was a long Fortean interlude was it not? Back to Shatner's show...
The Weird or What? program always gives you the most logical and sound answer to the phenomena but they wrap it around a myriad of questions (asked in Shatner's iconic voice) and slap on some highly imaginative anecdotal theories.
For instance I saw an episode where the phenomena was sunspot activity and they interviewed a NASA scientist who explained the most rational reason as to why sunspot activity has decreased in recent years...but they also let some whacko express his opinion that (if I remember correctly) alien spacecrafts were crashing at right-angles into the sun and through some kooked-out silliness these marooned vessels were disrupting sunspot activity...
...Yeah. All the while Shatner is asking questions like "could it be aliens?" in perfect feigned Fortean foolishness.
I like this show because the producers/writers/director/host seem to have the Fort Formula down to a tee and really get it. It is the most intelligent, entertaining, and least sensational way to present high weirdness by teevee.
In honor of the late Roger Ebert, I'm gonna give the shows thumbs.
A regrettable thumbs down to Jesse Ventura's Conspiracy Theory. Mostly due to his association with Alex Jones (who has minimal to zero entertainment value).
A thumbs up to Weird or What? for presenting the Fort Formula so well, and big ups and props to the Shat for asking the Fortean questions in the proper ham style (great casting).
End Note: That Henny Youngman joke in the opener paragraph is not really current or topical by any means. He was a stand-up who also played violin so when I was thinking of what to compare a multi-tasking entertainment device to...I naturally thought of Henny Youngman but I'm not sure if it was the right way to go in retrospect. Maybe a more current multi-talented fellow that should have been used as the comparison may have been someone along the lines of a Dolph Lundgren maybe.
Maybe I should go back and change the Henny Youngman joke to Dolf Lungren. Naw, eff it...you people have internet so you can look up Henny Youngman....no big deal.