For several years, actor and comedian Greg Proops claimed that he owned an ocelot. When journalists from news programs interviewed him about his work and life, he’d casually let drop that while he and his wife had no children, he did own an ocelot.
Oh, I say I have an ocelot and it’s a joke, but I’ve had so many news programs in this country say, “So what’s it like, having an ocelot?” And I’ll say, “It’s marvelous just to see them run free. When feeding time comes and they’re mewling, it just warms your heart.” People will really believe anything. You may have noticed this. It’s not just me. Look around.
Ha ha! He finally corrected the record during a written interview, but perhaps he shouldn’t have bothered. People really will believe anything, and news organizations are part of the problem. In their appetite for eyeballs and money, the mainstream media has grown so eager and credulous and unreliable where truth is concerned that it may serve the public’s interest best to end the pretense that news organizations are devoted to finding out the truth.
One appealingly subversive way to do this is to feed the news hounds satire whenever possible. Besides making the news more amusing, it will undermine the illusion that most news is anything more than entertainment inspired by newsy events. We have the good work done by the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but you don’t need to be a TV personality to do your part. Readers of this blog may recall the delicious example given us by writer and psychologist Gary Greenberg’s sendup of NYT’s pot-smoking columnist David Brooks. And don’t be afraid to think big. Maybe it’s time you owned a grizzly that you let run around the neighborhood, or took a ride on a UFO. The sky’s the limit.