Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cable News, Hollywood, and Killer Dust Clouds: A Conspiracy Theory

So there I am, minding my own business, simply trying to peruse the latest news on and stay informed about my world.

And then I see the kind of headline that causes panic in men's souls: Massive Dust Cloud Heads to US.

A deadly blanket of particulates descending upon America?!? Is it time to get the bottled water, run to the basement, and seal up the windows with duct tape?

No. You see, the read-beyond-the-headline Web surfer will discover that this event, sold to the casual observer as a threat to all of us, is in fact nothing to get excited about:

1) The cloud will probably impact only Florida (and possibly parts of Texas), NOT the entire U.S.
2) Winds often carry Saharan dust across the Atlantic, and this is not particularly noteworthy.
3) The sand is likely to be seen only via unusually colorful sunrises and sunsets.

Not exactly run for your life material here. But that is not what the news gurus would have us believe.

Why the hype? Well, it should be apparent to any right thinking American that the cable news networks have sold what is left of their souls in an unholy alliance with Hollywood.

You see, we have been hearing for months about dwindling audiences in theaters nationwide. Studio execs are concerned, alarmed, mortified. The news media—which rely on overviews of hot summer movies to fill the time between coverage of terrorist attacks and stories about missing blonde teenagers—are more than happy to help out.

The result: there is a killer dust cloud coming to your neighborhood. Panic.

Hollywood did not want to resort to this. Naturally, they first tried to trot out some sequels, figuring that Revenge of the Sith’s $375 million+ had nothing to do with the fact that it is the final Star Wars flick.

So we are fed such gems as Son of the Mask, Miss Congeniality 2, and Ace Bigelow: European Gigolo. Oh, the crowds.

Then their marketing wizards put their heads together—and decided that remakes would save the day.

So we are being subjected to the likes of The Longest Yard, The Pink Panther, and The Dukes of Hazzard. They even have the balls to push on us Bewitched, a movie about—get this—the making of a movie based on a television show.

Shockingly, all this isn’t working. Therefore, the plotters take the next natural step and imply a threat from deadly Saharan sandstorms.

And because everyone knows that the safest place from a lethal airborne dust cloud is a movie theater, the problem is solved.

And I imagine Hollywood will take it a step further, filling the latent demand for natural disaster flicks with a quick blockbuster production of Cumulus of Death. It will be like The Day After Tomorrow without snowdrifts. And hopefully without Dennis Quaid.

So if the headlines scare you, do the right thing for America—go see a movie. If only for a couple of hours, relax and escape from these unspeakable horrors that we cannot control or possibly defend ourselves against.

I recommend War of the Worlds.

P.S. A note for the record: My denunciation of The Dukes of Hazzard must in no way be construed as an objection to Jessica Simpson parading around in “Daisy Dukes.” Tell me that she will not actually speak in the movie, and I might just see it.

When it comes to cable.


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