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DEAR JON LETTERS
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Suggestions for our Pop Culture

by Dear Jon
January 19, 2010

Since Dear Jon gives advice, here are some gems that I have been sitting on, waiting for the right moment.

1. Advice to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

I am the father of a four year-old and I am about to have a second child. Back in the days of Pete Roselle the NFL featured family-friendly programming. The most adult-themed commercials were for Miller Lite, and they featured old guys like Mickey Spillane and Raymond Jonah Jamison making fun of each other and male sensibilities in general. Even Monday Night football, broadcast mostly after bedtime, was safe for kids to watch. Super Bowl half-times were corny but safe.

Today, the television viewing experience of the NFL is terrible. Commercials are out-doing each other for NC-17 ratings, especially the trailers for television shows and horror movies. Sometimes I'm not quick enough on the channel button to skip over to the "colored bar-code channel." How many times has my four year-old caught a glimpse of a little old lady going demonic and starting to climb a ceiling? So much for teaching her to adore the Green Bay Packers. Between that and the commercials for video games "Rated M for Mayhem" and the usual two old people in bath-tubs waiting for an erection, I don't feel like I can watch the NFL with my kids. Which means I don't feel like I can watch the NFL. Which means I start losing interest, which means I stop buying licensed NFL products for me and my kids.

I have an idea. Why don't you carry all NFL games with cable simulcast? Have the free network broadcasts like the old days, when the worst commercials are on the "boys will be boys" beer theme, but which also have the Clydesdale Christmas cards. Then the cola companies can advertise with everyone lighting candles and teaching the world to sing, and phone companies can ramp down the competitive obnoxiousness and talk about what Ma Bell used to advertise, which was connection with loved ones. And the broadcast announcers can stick to clean speech in their commentary. 

BUT THEN, on the cable version, the cable announcers can use cruder locker room language, you can do live microphones on the side-lines, you can feature all the half-time wardrobe malfunctions you want, and Trojan can advertise their "Lucky Day" condoms back-to-back with Cialis commercials and movies starring Angelina Jolie as a nymphomanic double-agent zombie exorcist.

Just a thought from one of the NFL's biggest fans. I'd rather not be embarrassed by what I'm watching on Sunday afternoon.

2. Advice to Jeff Zucker of the National Broadcasting Company

It is probably too late, but this is what I think you should do:

A. Leave Conan alone with the Tonight Show in its usual place.

B. Make Jay's gig once per week, put it earlier in the evening, and make it good. Consider Garrison Keillor as a model. That cast has a whole week to prepare. I'm not saying you copy the format or aim for the same audience of nostalgiacally jaded midwestern Lutherans; I am saying that Leno could fill a role in Americana as a televised comedic sage who weighs in once a week. Feature headliner guest bands. Make the Leno Show an event, weekly, that people make a point to get together and watch.

Aren't I describing Saturday Night Live? No. More like Friday Night Videos. It worked when the time was right for it. Friends would stop their parties to tune in. Parties would form around the telecast. That's what I'm talking about.

3. Advice to President Obama

Weigh your legacy. Sign nothing into law that leaves a bad taste in your mouth or in the mouths of the independents who swept you into power. Work on bringing the kids home and do not fear Hilary's success on the world stage. Rely on it. Give her a profile in public.

4. Advice to the United Nations and the Government of Haiti

You need to surrender all sovereignty to the United Nations to clear helicopter flights and parachute drops, to detain or destroy gangsters, to clear rubble and bull-doze new roads and erect pontoon bridges anywhere that field commanders require. The world was ready to respond within the first 12 hours. The reason relief has taken a week is not the fault of the world. It is the fault of a failed state's complete lack of attention to its own infrastructure and internal systems. Own it, surrender and let the UN establish the chain of command, for as long as the crisis requires.

Or invite France back to set up a functioning government.

You think I'm being tongue-in-cheek? I could not be more earnest.

5. Advice to Isolationists Who Believe National Sovereignty Means Everything

And so we just let the Haitians rot in their rubble, right?

6. Advice to the Left Wing and Peacenik Critics of Obama

I agree with you that the use of torture in the endless and undeclared and extiless War on Terror has diminished America. However, it is probably a good thing that the Obama regime is extending immunity over those who devised and those who carried out the torture of detainees in the Bush regime.

The issues of pardons and immunities are complex, but we have at least 35 years of executive prudence going back to Ford's pardon of Nixon. It was unpopular and may have cost Ford an election, but Carter did not reverse Ford and go after Nixon.

The bottom line is that if each successive party's administration pursued the previous party's administration for its policy decisions, our elections would balkanize. We would become less unified and peaceful as a nation. Parties in power would resort to graduated unconstitutional measures leading to violence and pretexts for martial law just to stay in power in order to protect themselves from the prosecutions of succeeding partisan regimes. Sometimes "keeping the peace" really is more important than the pursuit of retribution. Retributive justice is at the root of the "tit for tat" partisan violence that characterizes certain cultures which I doubt very much we are interested in emulating.

This does not do justice to any torture victim. I understand that. The worst "bring it on" commander-in-chief in our history disgraced the office and the nation by fostering an environment where such sickening things could happen. Consider, though, that we may be experiencing justice as a whole nation, however, with record deficits and lingering economic malaise and waning global influence. If voters get the governments we deserve, maybe we get the economies we deserve too. Meanwhile Obama has betrayed no one in taking a prudent course.

6. Advice to Neo-conservative Critics of Obama

Shut up. You should thank your lucky stars that your darlings aren't behind bars right now awaiting prison terms and execution. To use a Rock-ism, "Yah I said it." I have already written that the outing of a CIA operative is treason.  That used to mean a firing squad, not celebrity-status on right wing  cable talk shows. Or, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, I wish you would all balkanize yourselves.

7. Advice to The Hague

How about the international court of the United Nations establishing an international "Jihad Truth Commission"? Called to testify would be victims of American torture methods, and Palestinians who lost their homes to Israeli settlement expansion.

Be sure also to have Europe's Bosnian Muslims talk about the intervention of Americans on their behalf, and don't forget Kuwaitis and Saudis.

However the Jihad Truth Commission will still be incomplete unless they call to testify:

a. Women of Afghanistan and the Taliban officials who humiliated them, or the families of women who have been martyred because they educated girls.  

b. Holocaust victims. As part of the commission, require every Muslim who wants to testify, every Islamic cleric in the audience and every Islamic head-of-state appointed to grandstand at the Hague, to spend three days at the Berlin Holocaust Museum, as a pre-requisite to attendance and participation. That means Iran's President too.

c. Israeli victims of suicide bombings from before the days of "The Wall."

d. Let as many Iraqis tell their stories as want to. Of course that means the whole story.

e. Those who lost family members on 9-11-01.

f. Have Colin Powell testify to how he got hosed by that whole "WMD" United Nations fiasco.

g. Have Rumsfeld describe the story of US soldiers lining their own "armored carriers" with the lids of garbage cans.

h. Have Chaney testify to the role of big oil in setting the policies of the Bush administration.

i. Be sure that historians of the medieval period are on hand to provide workshops on the Islamic invasions of Europe three hundred years before anything called a "crusade" ever happened.

This is non-negotiable. The Truth Commission goes the WHOLE way, or does not even begin. The truth is necessary for reconciliation, and that is after all what people want.

Right?

 




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