HARROWING DESCENT INTO SELF-PARODY

Posted in Rants on June 10th, 2008 by Ed

The final stage in any fad-driven marketing campaign is self-parody. In other words, first you sell bell bottoms to models and fashion tastemakers. Then you sell them to the masses. Then, when everyone tires of the trend and your product has become a punchline, you capitalize on its lameness. Some people like irony and will pay good money for the outdated, the corny, and the mass-consumed. You wait until everyone's laughing at you, encourage them to laugh harder, and make one last killing.

Fox News, with stagnant or declining audiences for the majority of its programming, has reached self-parody. At least that's what I think it is. It has to be. What they are doing is so many light-years away from anything remotely resembling news coverage that I must believe that they are high-minded conceptual artists doing their finest take on Dada and surrealism. Nothing could be this stupid unless it is willfully, purposefully, and intentionally stupid, a calculated effort to fill a market niche by creating the Sistene Chapel of stupidity.

Parodies of Fox are now indistinguishable from the network itself. To wit: could any combination of the world's greatest comedy writers come up with something that mocks the network more than a clip of an anchor asking if Obama's fist-bumping gesture is "a terrorist fist jab?"


Shake & Bake & Terrorism

You could not make that up. It's so stupid that it would be inconceivable ("Oh, they're not that bad!") if it hadn't actually happened.

No organization with even the remotest pretentions of being taken seriously would use baseless speculation about a common greeting (try meeting a black person once in your life, Fox) being a terrorist fist jab in the course of introducing a segment featuring a "body language analyst." Let me check if "body language analyst" is a real job.

It isn't.

Watching Fox News is like watching June of 2002 encased in amber, frozen forever in time. From the constant reminder of the current color-coded Homeland Security Advisory threat level ("Yellow – Elevated") to the stories about the booming economy to the endless editorializing about the granite-like solidity of the pre-Iraq War intelligence, everything about the network suggests that it experienced its peak six years ago and just won't let go of those halcyon days. Removed from the context of America in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the network simply serves no purpose because it was never popular as "news." It was popular because its product – cheerleading, jingoism, and xenophobia to the sound of beating war drums – was in high demand for a moment that has come and gone. Now that its 15 minutes as the hot fad are over, there's nothing left for Fox to do except become the most outlandish possible caricature of itself in the hopes of making a last buck off of our mocking laughter.

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