March 13, 2009
Slaughtering The Peacock
n. 2. A vain person; a dandy.
To strut about like a peacock; exhibit oneself vainly.
proud as a peacock
Having a very high opinion of oneself, filled with or showing excessive self-esteem. For example, She strutted about in her new outfit, proud as a peacock. This simile alludes to the male peacock, with its colorful tail that can be expanded like a fan, which has long symbolized vanity and pride. Chaucer used it in The Reeve’s Tail: “As any peacock he was proud and gay.” [1200s]
I’m glad James Burrows actually likened Jon Stewart to Edward R. Murrow last night because all I could think of, while watching Jon Stewart pluck out Jim Cramer’s feathers in bunches, was “Frost – Nixon,” “Frost Nixon.” Reality has become so warped, surreal, so turned upside-down that it logically took a fake and comedic news anchor to expose a supposedly real financial journalist for abusing parody, and greed, and worked-up demonstrations of anger (and the American public’s hard earned capital) in fronting for and colluding with a financial industry gone mad.
Listening to Stewart so plainly and nakedly articulate the gaming of America by Wall Street, and CNBC’s greasing of the skids, he did a lot more than put the huckster Jim Cramer to shame. What Stewart’s milestone interview/morality lesson accomplished was to set up an elegant and unmistakable contrast with the curiously inarticulate Tim Geithner … prompting the conclusion that Tim cannot explain the banking crisis for the reason that he, too, is fundamentally compromised.
At this address for the past couple years now, we’ve noticed how photojournalists will appropriate backgrounds to create the impression of (often editorially-loaded) hats, hoods, halos and crowns. In this case, the Daily Show photo is brilliant in the way it uses the NBC logo, lined up behind Mr. Money, to reveal what a peacock Cramer’s been all along. With just a little shaking, what flies out of the bird-man’s tail is the network, the almighty dollar, and the brand of the mad man. Really, this morphing offers the perfect compliment to Jon Stewart Murrow’s demonstration last night, eliciting confessions and promises of reform from a suddenly not-so-dandy Cramer who otherwise sat there struggling just to grasp the nature of the crime.
If you haven’t watched the interview, do so immediately.
Hmm, here’s where the NYT visually went with it. I’m not sure if they were shilling for Cramer as being mad, as in ultimately offended by Stewart’ grilling or they were highlighting the backdrop as part of a set up on the part of the Daily Show prosecutor (which is how the TV Watch article frames the “interview”).
And then, if you’re an optimist, maybe this was the key picture: Kramer vowing to do better.
(image 1: Jason DeCrow/AP. March 12, 2009, New York. image 2: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)