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April 6, 2005

News As Spectacle: Pope 24/7

Bushpope1

9:52am Bush says Pope was a great man.  10:19am Bush calls Pope a ‘champion of freedom.’ 11:23am Bush says “A good and faithful servant of God has been called home.”  12:03pm  Bush Calls Pope ‘An Inspiration to Us All.’ 1:15pm Bush: Pope “champion of peace and freedom.” 1:45pm Pope ‘a champion of human dignity — Bush.  2:37pm Bush says: ‘Pope called for culture of life.’

It’s ironic the Republican’s are scheming how to remove filibuster power from the minority party in the Senate.  Just like the way Reagan’s death turned into a three-day media filibuster by the Republicans, this Pope-thing has more than assumed the same characteristic. 

In the meantime, what better opportunity for our Flockmaster-in-Chief to apply more white-out to the line between church and state.  Just look at him, having a “rapture moment” on national TV, standing between the presidential seal and the American flag.  How touching to experience the dew-eyed First Congregant — alongside the first lady — having the opportunity to, once again, sermonize about faithful servants and witnessing and “dignity of human life” and “culture of life” and “providential Constitutions” and shepards and blessings and thrones and priests and God and sons.

If nothing else, this holy week gives us the chance to observe how the radical right can clean our secular clock by claiming anything and everything as sacred.  And, in the subsequent “mandatory observance time,” they deaden us with ritual; reschedule “less conducive” activity to more expedient times;  and, generally continue operating free of the rules, under the cover of spectacle, ceremony and an extra helping of piety.

So, here we are in another “grace period.” 

And, I can already hear the recrimination in my own head: My God, the Pope just died.  It could be another 27 years before they lose another one.  And what, we pagan liberals can’t spare one week of media time!  Are we really so petty as to complain if Paula Zahn choses to profile the Christian conversion of Robert Novak, and then Larry King follows with an interview of Christian-convert Jane Fonda?  I mean, are you really going to whine just because they hobbled Congress for a week, and sent a small boat load of Catholic Senators (mostly Democrats, by the way) off to Rome!  Like someone who wouldn’t stop at the first sound of an ambulance, or would refuse to pull over for a funeral procession, who do I think I am?

So, God bless Bush, Frist and DeLay.  The right wing has perfected the orgy of remembrance and the art of “perpetual sanctity.” 

…And we can’t say anything about it.

(image: Jason Reed/Reuters/Corbis)

  • Quentin

    Possible recriminations, really? The whole pope thing has just been turned by the repugs into another repugnant political scam and smoke screen. It makes me sad to see ever-so vain Mr. Clinton hobnobbing with Mr. Bush I, Mr. and Mrs. Bush II and Ms. Rice-Bush. He could have at least had the good sense to go with Jimmy Carter who is a sincere christian who works openly and constructively for peace and justice, more than the pope or any of them ever did, by the way. My comment on the television image of Bush: truly awakened christians I’d rather see on TV are Brigitte Bardot and now (really?, you can blow me over) Jane Fonda.

  • http://ibiblio.org/pyro/ramadan.html ray

    the old nat’l socs were VERY fond of death’s imagery: the big rallies were always choreographed as state funerals. we dont have state funerals anymore, or even radios that tune in only one frequency: we have talk-tv. so, here they are lined up in ranks before the TV, as the Leader bellows his sanctimony and outrage over them and the only thing that they can hear is the constant wheedling and begging of that little man.

  • http://www.slyfelinos.com/slyblog/ jillian

    Well we could make mention that perhaps snubbing former President Jimmy Carter isn’t something that Jesus would do.

  • Johanna

    Thanks Bag for the your thoughts/commentary.
    The right wing has perfected the orgy of remembrance and the art of “perpetual sanctity.”
    …And we can’t say anything about it.

    Aah, yes, but there is something I can do about it and I have. I have not allowed either through my eyes or my ears, as best as I can, in, any of the Pope’s death coverage. I have kept a “watch upon the door of my conciousness”.
    Yet there are others who feel so differently. Even in my own birth family. My mother is a devout Catholic and for her, all this coverage is a veritable “blessing.” She and most Catholics had to suffer the humiliation of the sexual abuse coverage, now for them, the divine pomp and ritual can be fed out to the masses 24/7. It seems to me that for her personally, it gives her a sense of pride to see so much about “her” religion on the airwaves. And perhaps, I might venture to say, she feels it helps to heal the tarnished image of her religion.
    There is also a comment I would like to make in reference to your comment Bag about President Bush – having the opportunity to, once again, sermonize about faithful servants and witnessing and “dignity of human life” and “culture of life” and “providential Constitutions” and shepards and blessings and thrones and priests and God and sons.
    I was really troubled by a snipet of his speech I heard on the radio, given for the award for the Medal of Honour I believe, for a soldier who had died heroically, in Iraq.
    I cannot directly quote him, but I remember him saying something to the affect, “and in scripture…”. I was horrified that the President was doing just what you described – sermonizing – he was not using the usual coded scriptual references but now confidently coming out and saying he was going to quote from scripture.
    Peace. Johanna

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    My TV has been off for THREE WEEKS now. I wonder how much longer I can do without it, and hope it isn’t another 20 years before we have real media in this country again (if ever).

  • Quentin

    I got rid of my television about fifteen years ago: it broke down when I was watching General Schwarzkopf telling us how great he was because of the war in Iraq. Then I decided not to bother getting a new one. That’s something I’ve never regretted. Great General Schwarzkopf! Remember him?

  • MonsieurGonzo

    dubya looks dead.
    spin him 90 degrees from vertical
    and he would be ” Lying In State
    nothing new

  • kali yuga

    Good stuff:
    tinyurl.com/48ymc

  • Lightning Empiricist

    ‘what better opportunity for our Flockmaster-in-Chief to apply more white-out to the line between church and state. Just look at him, having a “rapture moment” on national TV’ …
    ‘How touching to experience the dew-eyed First Congregant’ …
    ‘in the subsequent “mandatory observance time,” they deaden us with ritual’ …
    ‘the orgy of remembrance and the art of “perpetual sanctity.”‘
    Great writing, indeed! The “players” of this finite “entertainment and bias as information” game are rewarded for being non-forthcoming about their personal biases, while at the same time flawed in their judgements on matters of importance (which they sometimes brush up against briefly), as if to “speak power without regard to truth” (as opposed to “speaking truth to power”).

  • http://the-culture-of-lies.blogspot.com Lightning Empiricist

    Your comments are welcome at The Culture of Lies!

  • http://tsuredzuregusa.blogspot.com Shaula Evans

    I am very curious about what kind of CIA/FBI/GOP/Black ops/Laundered money shenanigans are going on and have been going on with the cardinals to influence the choice of the *next* pope.
    If we happened to get a pope who did *not* carry a misogynist or homophobic agenda, or who was in favor of liberation theology…just think the heat that would stir up for the radical republican junta.
    Methinks they don’t intend to leave it to chance.

  • Mark

    I had a b-day party the eve of April 2. I declared it a dead pope party. No one liked the idea quite as well as I, but the party did become a lot better after that.

  • aethorian

    The real focus of this image should be its caricatured frame, not the celebrity du jour who happens to appear inside it. The face doesn’t matter: like Pope John Paul, the subject—and our fleeting interest in them—will pass away, only to be replaced by another, and another, and another, ad infinitum.
    There will always be a new face to throw darts at, but rather than get distracted we might ask, “Who’s putting up the target and why?“. Book review editor J. Peder Zane sums up the matter well in his recent News & Observer column News As Spectacle:

    In the current environment, where our ears demand the loudest voice, our eyes the greatest spectacle and our hearts a story packed with disposable emotions, pseudo-events allow the media to blare their trumpets nearly everyday in a desperate quest for attention.
    Pseudo-events are like television sitcoms — only a steady diet makes them palatable. Ignore the boob tube for a few weeks and then switch it back on and your only thought is: What was I thinking? Similarly, the media must produce a long procession of pseudo-events to condition us to them. Otherwise, we’d laugh them off saying: What are they thinking?
    The “Jurassic Park” mentality
    [of thrilling spectacles] is also reconfiguring our politics, with frightening results. No doubt, many Americans have deep and bitter differences of opinion about the nation’s direction. Such debate and dissent are necessary and healthy. Unfortunately, we are hashing them out through language that appeals not to the head but the groin.

    The target within the frame is always moving, changing, never sitting still long enough to let us draw a good bead on them. Whether this is by design, circumstance, or good old marketing is hard to say, but we rarely take time to think before reacting. The only static target of opportunity we have is the frame itself: we need to aim at it more often.

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