Chronic Fatigue

It makes me tired just thinking about it...

Marcie J

Marcie J
San Francisco, California, USA
January 30
I'm an Advertising Copywriter who needs to rant now and then. Ok, maybe not just now and then. Maybe all the time. Lately, I simply don't understand - and can rarely relate to - this wierd world we live in. Please don't call me a "crank". I'm more like a sorely disillusioned, nice person. When I'm not writing, you'll find me teaching dance and listening to cheerful, escapist music from the 1920s and '30s (you can hear my radio show, "Happy Days" every Sunday, 12-1:00 PM PST @

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 15, 2011 2:42PM

History, Interrupted

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The television screen was filled with images of thousands of Egyptians joyously celebrating in the streets of Cairo.  There, on the left side of the screen, in large cap letters, were the words "MUBARAK STEPS DOWN".

I knew I was witnessing a moment in history.  Moments such as these happen only a few times in our lifetimes.  I wanted to soak it in.

But while the Egyptians were celebrating their historic moment, other important news was fighting for my attention.  My eye kept going to the endless crawl on the bottom third of the screen.  There, in slightly smaller type, I was informed of several momentous events happening right here           at home:

Lady Gaga releases highly anticipated new single, ''Born This Way"

Kid Rock defends decision to perform in snowy Arkansas

Lindsay Lohan tweets "I would never steal"

Donald Trump to consider running as GOP challenger in 2012

Scarlett Johansson representative knocks down rumors that Scarlett is dating Sean Penn

Thank you, MSNBC, for interrupting coverage of a major world event with headlines ripped from The National Enquirer.  As always, you managed to trivialize important news with total trivia.

There was a time when crawls were reserved for major breaking news, sports scores and emergencies.  Today, that batshit crazy crawl is with us all the time.  That's bad enough.  But now, the steady stream of headlines moving along the bottom of our tv screens includes an increasingly absurd mashup of legitimate news and "Showbiz Tonite" gossip. 

The line between hard news and entertainment is now blurrier than those nighttime scenes of Cairo's Tahrir Square.  And there is no going back.

How I yearn for those halcyon days before the crawl.  The days before broadcasters decided to treat the audience as if we all suffer from A.D.D. and need a 24/7 drip of inane celebrity gossip to hold our collective attention.

When the Apollo 11 moon landing happened in 1969, millions of us sat mesmerized for hours in front of our tv screens.  Can you imagine if Neil Armstrong's first step on the lunar surface had to compete with a news ticker announcing the entertainment headlines of the day?   Picture, if you will, Walter Cronkite narrating those grainy, black and white shots of Neil Armstrong emerging from the lunar module, while a ticker along the bottom of the tv screen read:

Eddie Fisher and Connie Stevens call it quits

Disney's "The Love Bug" highest grossing film of 1969

The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" tops the charts for 4th consecutive week

Twiggy celebrates 20th BD

"The Dating Game" begins fifth season

Would the moon landing have seemed half as riveting with the day's pop culture headlines dragging us back down to earth?    

Now, no event – no matter how significant – is important enough to merit our total focus.  And no pop culture tidbit is too trivial to be deemed unworthy of our undivided attention.  I never thought I'd see the names "Hosni Mubarak" and "Lady Gaga" sharing the same screen.  But in today's world – where we no longer distinguish between news and nonsense – those kinds of juxtapositions are the norm. 

Just once, I'd like to watch the news – or any program, for that matter – without that crazy, "Trivial Pursuits" crawl parading across the lower third.  Maybe the crawl should be optional, like closed captions.  That would be an improvement (I wonder how many viewers would choose to keep the "crawl" option turned on?).

Or maybe the so-called news media will come to their senses and decide to focus just on the news.  Now, that would be truly revolutionary.  And completely unlikely.

God forbid if World War III breaks out anytime soon.  Just as the missiles are headed towards our shores, we'll look up at our television screens for the last time and gasp as we read: 


Kim Kardashian admits to having liposuction...

Snookie enters rehab...

Justin Beiber introduces shampoo line...

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the non-stop crawl began on 9-11 and they decided to just keep doing it.
You don't know how much this resonates with me. About a year ago, I posted about an incident at NYC event that actor Chris Noth (respected star of many TV shows and movies) was attending. The news story the next day: "Snooki and Chris Noth were uninjured when ..."

I just got a copy of the NY Times from the day I was born in year 19?? and there is not a soft-news story on the front page. Those were the days.

BTW, you should have noted that Lindsay Lohan did tweet that she was happy for the Egyptian people. I think that's important to know.
you need to know about celebrity lives
you do not need to know about politics
big brother
This was rich. If the "crawl" ever tells me that a Red Sox-Yankees game is postponed due to WWIII, I'm gonna be seriously upset.
I'm so glad you posted this. I've complained about the crawlers for years. They're distracting and stupid.
Priorities- gotta know what's REALLY important. Who needs MSNBC or CNN when there's TMZ?
You said it. "I never thought I'd see the names "Hosni Mubarak" and "Lady Gaga" sharing the same screen." ~r
I was just griping about the opposite effect, which may be even more maddening; watching [insert your own inanity] for no good goddamned reason I can fathom, while below in miniscule type some earth shattering, paradigm shifting disaster/discovery speeds by. It's enough to make you run out into the street shouting "Death to the media!"
Totally agree, Johnny! It's insane, either way.
Great post. The crawl is a huge beef of mine. Am I wrong or did it just start at 9/11? I don't really remember seeing it that much before then. We have been getting a lot of "cable crawls" at the top as local stations negotiate with different cable companies. We don't even HAVE Direct TV but we get crawls related to your local cable provider and let them know you want the local XXX affiliate. Jeez. Nothing is sacred anymore. Great writing. Well Deserved EP. RRRR
Thanks for the nice feedback, Bernadine. Yes, as several others have pointed out, the crawl began with 9/11 and just never went away.
Maybe it's Post Traumatic Crawl Syndrome.
Excellent and absolutely perfect! I loved this and read it with both amusement and frustration at the truth of it all. Terrific and congrats on the well-deserved EP! :)
Post Traumatic Crawl Syndrome! Great one! It is scary the way the media hounds movie stars and shoves them in our faces. I had no idea who Lindsay Lohan was until she got arrested.
Yet another Steve said it already;

" "You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on."
-- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar, in Macworld Magazine, February 2004
This is why I watch the PBS Newshour...
I think I gave up on television news coverage when I saw CNN's Wolf Blitzer, stationed outside the hospital where Anna Nicole Smith had been pronounced dead, trying to fill live air time with on the spot coverage of of this momentous event in history. Today's news is just sad for those of us old enough to remember when news was really news.
What a great read. I get it in theory, because I no longer have Cable/watch TV. I used to pride myself on not knowing who any of these so-called celebs are (well, I would have known all the Apollo crawls), but the forced osmosis from computer media is negating that claim.
Now that we're griping, how about when some promo for an upcoming program sends a character darting across the bottom of the screen on a tricycle or some such madness? It's no wonder ADD is on the rise.
Congrats on your EP!
As with several others who commented, this is why I get my news from the internet and NPR. I'm not even ADD enough to read the crawls!
I do not watch any more cable "news," except for HLN from time to time. I put news in quotes because so much of it is either propaganda or trivia...
I agree about how sad it is that our news has come to the sorry state that it is today where the scroll and "this just in" is so full of ridiculousness these days.
The crawl is killing me. Thanks for writing about it and it's affects so very well.
Very well written. Isn't that the truth!! I especially hate it when I choose to be entertained by watching a movie and the network insists on interrupting with video clips of upcoming shows!
Thanks, Susie. I agree about the in-movie promos. It is beyond annoying. For me, the worst is when they do that during a classic film like "The Wizard of Oz" or "It's a Wonderful Life". I'll be enjoying one of my favorite scenes and then they interrupt my reverie with some stupid, animated promo for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (or God knows what). One can't escape to a kinder, gentler time for even a moment.
The option to crawl! What a concept! I have another idea: why not make crawl's mandatory? Picture watching the final rose ceremony on The Bachelor while the ticker along the bottom of the screen reads, "War Ends in Afghanistan. All U.S. troops come home." First of all, I wonder how many people would even see it, much less read it. The next question would be how many would leave the Bachelor to go to a news channel to read about that momentous news? Thanks for the article - I won't look at "crawls" again the same way.
What?? Viewers tearing themselves away from "The Bachelor" to check on major world news? Surely you jest. Especially if it's during the "Rose Ceremony"!