what kind of day it has been...

July 8, 2016

I read just about anything I can get my hands on. I subscribe to at least a dozen magazines, and probably have complimentary subscriptions to a dozen more. This means that at any given time I have about 13-14 things in my house I am actively reading, not including my daily skimming of Reddit, Deadspin, Verge, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, SkyNews, and of course twitter. No matter the day I also make sure to watch @nbcnightly news. I think they do a great job of curating the days news, and it is presented in a way that is well written, and interesting. I also think NBC Nightly has the highest production value of any of the evening network newscasts. Now after that Dickensian setup for a tale of epic proportions, here’s one of far less grandeur. I have seen many articles about what’s wrong with people today, why America is in the situation we’re in and why we as a country are going to fail. Our largest corporations are destined for doom. The blame is being set from bad work ethic from Millennial’s, to greed of corporate conglomerates and even CEO salary issues. I want to voice what I think the issues stems from and how it could be turned around.

WARNING: $ SERVICE Thought-Filter new-rule: hurt peoples feelings -ban all

I think the problem we’re facing stems from multiple things. I think the first one is that many people feel that they should be listened to. They feel like what they say or do has merit. Well I am sorry it doesn’t. Your opinion means about as much to me as where my dog took a crap this morning. Your opinion only becomes valuable to me when I know that you have skills associated with what input you are offering. If I offer a coach of a pro-sports team advice he has every reason to discard it because I have no relevant experience that allows me to contribute. I consider myself a fairly smart, well educated, intuitive person. While I feel that I can offer suggestions based on my assessment of a situation, I do not possess the required knowledge it takes to give valuable counsel.

I think there-in lies the issue. Everyone thinks they are clever and have the ability to offer their opinion or input on any situation in which they have no business doing so. Their entitlement to have an opinion instantly makes them feel they must contribute. It’s the same problem I see in my job as a TV Producer all of the time. People watch TV, people have a relationship with TV, therefore they think they know what good TV is and always want to offer their input on how they feel I should execute their projects. When I was first starting in television I would shoot low budget, quick turn-around commercials for very little money. I think the client paid $1500 and I made $750 of that and the other part was taken for the agency fee and media rights. These people were the WORST. They thought they had booked Steven Spielberg and that they had a team of Hollywood execs to put together their :30 second motion picture. The formula was simple. Spend an hour shooting, spend 2 hours editing, and 30 minutes making graphics… BAM! $750 bucks. Well then you run into Francis Ford Coppola that bought a commercial for his crappy shoe store and wanted to make sure that you got a shot of every mother-fudging shoe in his store, or the lovely lady who wanted to make sure that her daughter was the one who gave the clever tag line that they put on their sign that uncle Fred made for them in his wood-shop. It was brutal. We would turn one edit, and they got one round of changes, and that was it. Further adjustments or creative change meant more $$$ and that usually meant that under the loom of more cash the spot was fine as-is. Political campaign season was my favorite. Always meant a plethora of people wanting spots for school board, attorney general, treasurer, and sometimes got a mayoral candidate. I made enough one season to pay my car payment and house payment for 4 months. Friends always asked me “How can you support this candidate?!!” I always told them, “A Check is a Check, theirs cashes the same as anyone else’s”. The problem I started to run into was that some of my clients got in their heads that they could cut me out of the process, computer editing was becoming somewhat affordable and even consumer cameras were now shooting fairly high quality video (ohhhh Hi-8). Some of the car dealers would drop a couple of thousand dollars, and hire someone out of J-school and think they were now a post-production facility. The quality of these in-house commercials was quite volatile and obvious. Terrible audio was usually the first clue, many people would just use the camera mic which sounds really great… Sharp, jerky pans would be another tell-tale sign, usually a result of a radio shack special tripod, and of course the- ‘everything is blown out in the background and the person’s face is dark because I am on auto-iris’ issue. These are just some examples of when people think they can offer input, and have the knowledge to take on a craft they have no business involving themselves in.

It might be that all of this is indicative of a more deeply rooted problem in our society. Are people so enamored with themselves they think they have all of the answers to all of life’s questions? I think the answer has to be yes. Elections are the most disgusting display of humanity as of late. We berate, belittle, and make mockery of anyone who doesn’t agree with our political point of view. We don’t allow for informed debate on the issues, we call people un-American and question their morals. Some of the wisest men in our country’s history disagreed with each other, but they all believed in the idea of a country that could be built upon cooperation and compromise. Our strongest asset in the country is the one that is pulling us apart… freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is what makes our country great, and what makes us independent. Many other nations have freedom, Canada, Japan, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia… they and 180 others all have freedom. This country is built on it. The founding fathers wanted us to have it, that’s why they came to this country. They had an idea, They wrote that idea on July 4th, 1776, they released it to the world: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. They said it. Right there in the Deceleration of Independence.

I put forth that we all have the right to be treated equal, and should all have the same freedoms as one another, but why does a Doctor get paid more than a teacher? Why does the person chosen by their peer group to represent them in DC get a salary equivalent to that only 3.9% of the American public make? That doesn’t make sense to me. We need to re-evaluate our standards. We need to know that our voice does have a place in the chorus of the world, but let’s also know our place. Know what you know, and be extremely aware of what you don’t know. That was Einstein’s mantra, he knew what he didn’t know and therefore he knew. Crazy right? We all should take a little time to work on us, work on the self and know our sorting order –

I think this entire rant can be summed up by one of my favorite writers- Paddy Chayefsky

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job, the dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air’s unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our tee-vees while some local newscaster tells us today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We all know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything’s going crazy. So we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is please, at least leave us alone in our own living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my tee-vee and my hair-dryer and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything, just leave us alone. Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad –I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to write your congressmen. Because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the defense budget and the Russians and crime in the street. All I know is first you got to get mad. You’ve got to say: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more. I’m a human being, goddammit. My life has value.” So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

Paddy wrote that in 1976 for the movie ‘Network’— now, tell me. Is the world the problem or is it your perception?

 

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