Peekaboo With CNN
A little while ago I turned on CNN just in time for the following sentence:
TOM HANKS HAS BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH WORLD WAR II.Understandably, that blew my mind and I turned the TV off, fairly certain that this was an instance where I did not want context. I turned it back on a couple of minutes later to witness an apparent retrospective of the works of Tom Hanks, where they kept flashing stills from his movies as the voiceover informed that Tom Hanks "convinced us that we could . . . love a mermaid (Splash) . . . be a child again (Big) . . . fight hate (Philadelphia) . . . be simple and honest (Forrest Gump) . . . fight the good fight (Saving Private Ryan) . . . and with hope in your heart survive another day (Terminal).
I muted the TV and went to make out onto the fire escape to make a phone call. When I came back, and unmuted the TV some old geezer was speaking about Winston Churchill. The geezer turned out to be an eponymous junior, Winston Churchill, grandson of the Winston Churchill.
He was being interviewed on the subject of "the greatest generation" because it's Memorial day and the dedication of the memorial and also because we live in the un-40s even as we live in the un-50s (un-50s = zombie 1950s, which is, basically here and now). This is what WC had to say (more or less): "What we have to remember is that the greatest generation weren't old people, they were young people, who were ordinary people, who did extraordinary things." American narrative ur-trope, table for one. Reservation under Gump, Forrest. Then he was, like, talking about how it wasn't just Americans who rose to the challenge, it was "the entire English-speaking world, America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand all fought for freedom." Wait, he forgot Eritria! Oh, never mind, wrong Alliance. Seriously, what the fuck? I suppose the Soviet Army that liberated Poland and stormed the Reichstag were all fluent English-speakers and tea-drinkers. And the resistance fighters throughout Europe were part of the "not-quite-cool-enough Generation" on account of their agglutinative functional languages? What an asshole! What a the-sun-never-set-on-British-Empire retro asshole!
Then the CNN anchorwoman (and there is a word for people like her in Russian, mymra, it doesn't really have a translation, but it's worth it to learn Russian to understand the concept of mymra; meanwhile, for the time being we will have to resort to a tautological definition, if you want to know what it is, look at any CNN anchorwoman covering a War on Terror item) asks WC what it was like to have Winston Churchill as a grandfather, to which WC pompously gives the following insane reply: "You have to understand, I knew him first and foremost as a grandfather. (!) And people always say, it must be awesome to have a grandfather like that, you must have been frightened of him all the time, but he was so nice, he was just delightful. It is I, the Dickensonian-in-demeanor grandson who is an asshole." [I may have editorialized that last part.]
You know what that reminded me of? How interviews with celebrities always start out with the writers establishing that the celebrity in question is different from all the other celebrities because she is very nice and down-to-earth. But since every single celebrity, when it is her turn to be interviewed, is thusly distinguished from the generalized straw man of "celebrities" en masse, it is not clear who, exactly, is bitchy and not down-to-earth. Thanks, CNN, for traumatizing me with your Tom Hanks homage and for asking stupid questions that lead us to the knowledge that Winston Churchill is exactly like Sarah Michelle Gellar.
And in the meantime, while Tom Hanks honors WWII veterans, the often-unacknowledged postscript to military service is this: according to the federal government, veterans make up 9% of the U.S. population but 23% of the homeless population. Among homeless men, veterans make up 33%. How does that happen?
What was my point? I don't know. I'm sure that fuck you, CNN is a part of it, because it usually is.
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