Everybody drills into you the importance of watching the news, reading the newspaper, scouring blogs, being informed, aware, blah blah blah. I've grown up thinking this is important, and am always baffled by people who avoid the news because it's "too depressing." Of course it's depressing, we live in depressing times, but it's a matter of responsibility. If you don't know what's going on, you don't get to complain about it. And right now, complaining is very important. Everything in the news sucks, especially politics. I've found that I get my news online and can't stand to watch it on television--except for the Daily Show. My information sources are blogs and Comedy Central, but that's fine, since you can't really understand current culture without watching comedy, particularly television comedy--if you don't know Dave Chapelle or Ego Trip, you don't know race relations, if you don't watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, you don't see the full picture of American politics or broadcast journalism. Eddie Izzard has his own special class of relevance--he's relevant because he's said so, and it works. Nothing is real until it becomes a Simpsons reference; the South Park paper dolls are still dirty, still sensible. Every joke is taken to its logical extreme on American Dad and Family Guy; Bernie Mac is as close as you can get to an heir to Bill Cosby. And, if he gets the movie he deserves, Chris Rock will win an Oscar in the next decade. Everything I learned about feminism and female friendship I learned from I Love Lucy and Absolutely Fabulous. Everything about New York I learned from Seinfeld. No other comedy dissected our foibles quite so neatly, putting them all on hilarious display. And for those who like gross-out and the extreme, the vomit gags and masturbation jokes, there's Drawn Together. I feel really bad for having seen more than one episode of those show, but not as bad as I should. At least there are always people out there pushing the boundaries of good taste. I would worry if there weren't any.
Television comedy is what rock music used to be, the only remaining ource of rebellion and refuge for the otherwise thoroughly defeated American leftie. And even it is not invulnerable--I really think the neocons conspired to get Arrested Development canceled. It was the only show with consistently incisive, consistently, corrosively funny running jokes about Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi War, American "peacekeeping" and Abu Gahraib. Stop laughing at me for a minute and just think about it. There is no other way to explain why that show is no longer on the air.
So sue me if I read the news and the only newstory on Yahoo news I follow up on is about the giant squid going up on display in London's Natural History Museum. I've been fascinated with the giant squid forever, although they've found a colossal squid that's even bigger, since I saw it wrestling with the sperm whatle in the Submarine Ride at Disneyland. Twenty-five feet long is scary enough, I mistakenly thought the eyeball was three feet in diameter, and spent my adolescence having surreal dream-mares about a giant eye floating outside my window. This is either Freudian, Hitchcockian or Dali-nese, I'm not sure which. But it does make me want to go see the exhibit, even though I don't like dead animals and it will probably give me more day-mares.