by Betty Wilson Beamguard
My apologies to the people who knock themselves out to bring us the latest news and weather, but I have a hard time keeping my mind on the content when the presentation is so distracting. My husband and I usually have the kitchen TV tuned to the news during meals, and my mind often wanders from the stories.
One morning, as I watched a foreign correspondent deliver a report on the UN weapons inspectors’ arrival in Iraq, my interior monologue ran something like this: “Blue eye shadow? A bouffant flip? She looks like she stepped out of the sixties.” And one morning, the meteorologist wore a bubblegum pink suit while sitting next to an anchor in a red one. Really, they ought to make up a dress chart and write in the colors they’ll be wearing for the week so clashes like that can be prevented.
The traffic reporter doesn’t have to worry about her outfit clashing because she stands up there all by herself, but somebody has absolutely ruined her. She used to wear flamboyant hair styles and colorful clothes that made me look forward to each day’s broadcast, but some well-meaning fashion consultant has toned her down until she could blend in with a winter stand of woods. Her whacky yellows and knock-your-eyes-out reds, have been replaced by blacks and browns, and her hair is now flat and smooth. She looks classier, but she’s no fun anymore.
Clichés are another thing that pull my attention away from the message. Why is it they are such a no-no for writers, but newscasters think themselves clever when they throw out one right after another. There’s “what’s going on in your neck of the woods,” for a switch to local news, and “on tap” is a big favorite.
Oh, and the medical news. Why do they think each time they mention a medical procedure, they have to show it? If they talk about mammograms for even thirty seconds, we see a woman getting one. Blood donations? We’re there. They mention immunizations; we see one. At the sight of a hypodermic, most of us experience a condensed flashback of every shot we endured as a child—the wait, the firm grip on the arm, the prick. So please, people, put the needles away and show us flowers or waterfalls while you talk about injections, not some helpless child cringing in his mother’s arms as a hypodermic approaches.
And the news people don’t seem to be aware that millions of us are eating while we watch. They constantly show bloody victims being hauled off on stretchers after bombings and wrecks, and then there’s my favorite, the operating room. I’m just so glad I don’t have a big-screen TV.
Sometimes those broadcasters say the oddest things. One told us he was taking medicine to pass a kidney stone. Talk about up close and personal. He even added that passing a kidney stone is not a pleasant experience. That’s news? And a woman who’d probably been up the whole snowy night, told us one morning to keep our eyes posted on the bottom of the screen for closings. If it weren’t for comments like that distracting me, I might be able to pay attention to the news and weather.
Betty Wilson Beamguard, a writer of Southern women’s fiction, poetry, and essays, has received numerous awards for her writing, and her work has appeared in Horizons, The Quill, Catfish Stew and Lonzie’s Fried Chicken. She has published one novel, the humorous Weej and Johnnie Hit Florida.
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