Saturday, November 13, 2010

Puffery (from the Tybalt archives)

NOTE: I do continue to read Infinite Jest. On page 202 currently. Unfortunately, I currently find myself unable to write about it, for reasons I will explain in a big post that I will have up soon.

Instead, I am going to bring you Greatest Hits of my personal archive, which I have been putting together assiduously.

The first piece is a piece from January of 2003. It remains perhaps more true now than ever. Except I like the NFL once more, I just ignore the hype.

I can't remember the last time I approached a Super Bowl Sunday without caring. As a longtime sports fanatic, last year I realized that I had oversaturated my life with sports and needed to cut back. For me, the obvious choice was to give up the NFL, and I've never looked back. As the sport with the sparsest amount of action of any that I know, and the worst broadcasters outside darts, the NFL had become an overblown joke to me.

Clearly, not everyone agrees, as it is phenomenally successful. This piece of overblown puffery from ABC News illustrates the point nicely. But why the messianic tone, asserting that football will crush all those who dare to oppose her? It has everything to do with the fact that ABC is broadcasting the Super Bowl tonight.

The piece demonstrates something about the sports media, and media in general, far more insidious than the popularity of the NFL. Nothing even approaching real analysis goes on in the newsrooms of the main media sources today. With the cross-linking and conglomerate ownership of media outlets, more and more of our mainstream media promote its own products and trash those of everyone else. Sports properties are no different.

Remember when you see another Toronto Star or Sun article trashing the Jays as "irrelevant", and as an inferior product, you are seeing one media conglomerate addressing one of its major rivals. When the Chicago Cubs fail to sign their first-round pick, it's described in the Chicago Tribune as a "snub" by the player instead of a failure of the team... because they are talking about a team they own; the Cubs themselves can do no wrong. Yankees fans who have their cable service with the wrong monopoly are denied Yankee games, because one cable giant is trying to fleece another into overpaying for the privilege of carrying their in-house TV channel. Radio and TV talk show host Jim Rome might criticize L.A. Dodger players, but never had a bad word to say for the badly mismanaged team, who were owned by his employer, Fox. Instead of actual journalists, newspapers and TV are increasingly hiring ex-P.R. flacks to provide content, like Richard Griffin. "Spin" has hit the sports pages, in a big way.

Remember to be critical of the news sources you read, even where it's just sports that are concerned. Corporate media reflects corporate interests, as they must; those who run businesses do not have the legal latitude to run them any other way. All I'm saying is that too much Richard Griffin will rot your brain... and that's a sentiment I think we can all get behind.

Enjoy the Super Bowl. 58 days until Opening Day.