Thank the supernatural deities that WFPL recently hired a media critic, because, frankly, we’re just getting too old for this shit.
“This shit” being the above clip wherein WHAS-11′s indubitable anchors discuss an upcoming broadcast of the SyFy Channel program “Ghost Hunters” set in the oh-so-spooky confines of the Belle of Louisville.
If you haven’t seen “Ghost Hunters,” imagine a group of grown men with questionable clothing and facial hair choices running around abandoned buildings in the dark with night-vision cameras screaming at each other.
Or just refer to the South Park rendition:
Of course, there is a rational explanation (other than a declining fourth estate) to explain this “newstainment”: We are in the midst of yet another unholy period known as the Nielsens ratings system “sweeps week,” where networks would broadcast live acts of cannibalism if the pesky FCC wouldn’t interfere with it.
Beyond the obviously hokey and maybe benign idiocy of it all, there’s something (most likely negative) to be said about a modern news outlet spending 60 seconds on discussing a reality show about ghosts haunting a local relic like the Belle of Louisville without even pointing out, in journalistic fashion, that ghosts aren’t real. It’s like running a story on crop circles in eastern Jefferson County, or leprechauns occupying urban trees, without mentioning the complete lack of scientific evidence for flying saucers. Not like veracity has proven to be a problem before. Then again, we do live in a country where 8 in 10 of us believe in angels, so maybe they’re cynically giving the public what they want.
But then, giving alcoholics more beer doesn’t really solve the problem, either. It reminds me of that scene in “Broadcast News,” where Holly Hunter is giving a presentation to her fellow television news producers about the decline of actual news in lieu of entertainment disguised as news. She shows a clip of a Japanese game show that was carried by all the major networks in the same night, in which a lengthy chain of dominoes culminates in the ignition of a rocket ship replete with pyrotechnics. Instead of being repulsed by it, Hunter’s colleagues stand in applause. That movie came out in 1986, which means we’re hopelessly screwed by today’s standards.
Lastly, even if we lived in a universe where ghosts were proven to exist (what a spooky universe!), it still doesn’t make sense for an ABC affiliate to give free advertising to a rival network’s ghost-based programming (SyFy Channel, which carries this tripe, is owned by NBC Universal). Much like the tortured souls that lurk in the bowels of the Belle of Louisville, however, perhaps we need a crew of dudes with flashlights and night-vision cameras to get to the bottom of it.
But in case a DVR and a crucifix isn’t enough protection, here’s a list of scheduled “sweeps weeks” for the rest of the year:
Jan. 31-Feb. 27
April 25-May 22
June 27-July 24
This way, you’ll know in advance when your regularly scheduled news programming jumps the shark and into commercial-approved la-la land.