43. Kirstie Alley is feeling a little antsy.

Journalism has changed a lot since I was a boy. Or at least my understanding of journalism has changed a lot.

When I was at school, some or other teacher had sat us down and explained that it was the role of a journalist simply to report the news. A good journalist would offer up the facts, leaving his or her own opinions, biases, and prejudices on one side, and let the reader or watcher draw their own conclusions and form their own opinions based on those facts.

The ideal journalist, circa 1987.

The ideal journalist, circa 1987.

This made sense to me. Biased news is surely little better than propaganda. We’re all grownups here. Just tell us what happened and let us decide what it means. We don’t need Arianna Huffington or Glenn Beck to tell us how to feel about a story.

Wrong. When I first went up to varsity, I once went out for an evening with a bunch of people that included a much older, and smarter, journalism student. At some point, I dropped into the conversation my worldly and sophisticated opinion that it must be very difficult for journalists to stay neutral. “Nobody,” said the journalism student “has believed that journalists are neutral for years.” “Nobody but you”, meant the journalism student, “has believed that journalists are neutral for years. Dumbass.”

A detached, unbiased political reporter prepares to see both sides of the story.

A detached, unbiased political reporter prepares to see both sides of the story.

This made sense to me. Life these days is busy and complicated. We don’t have time to decide how we feel about each and every story we come across. Isn’t it much easier to find someone out there with the same general worldview and biases as us, whom we trust, and who can save us time by running news stories through their own filters and handing them to us with worldviews and biases already in place? We need Arianna Huffington or Glenn Beck to confirm how we feel about a story.

Wrong. We aren’t nearly as smart as we think we are. We are, in fact, pretty bloody stupid. How else could “Two and a Half Men” be so popular? We are stupid and we are easily led. We pick a couple of people to be our leaders, and follow them blindly far deeper into the wilderness than we should. We need Arianna Huffington or Glenn Beck to tell us how to feel.

Get ready, guys. We will be setting off just as soon as someone tells us what our opinions are.

Get ready, guys. We will be setting off just as soon as someone tells us what our opinions are.

Which is all well and good. We have nailed our colours to the mast. Every story we come across will have a neatly packaged conclusion built into it, and we don’t have to waste any energy thinking. Gun control? Abortion? Gay Marriage? Affirmative Action? No problem. For all the anguish and rage that people profess to feel about these things, they’re actually very simple issues. We’ve let other people decide how we feel about them years ago.

Take one of  the worst ones. Abortion. It’s a hugely emotive issue. It drives people to rage and to anguish, whichever side of the debate they come down on. What it doesn’t drive them to is independent thought. That’s Glenn Beck’s job. Or Arianna Huffington’s. When last did you read a story about abortion and stop to think about the frightened, anguished, humiliated little teenager who’s usually at the heart of it, trying desperately to make grownup decisions with a child’s brain. We don’t have time for that nonsense. We’re too busy taking up our burning torches and pitchforks and rushing off to join Glenn and Arianna at the barricades.

“Wait up guys, does anyone remember what the girls name is?”
“No! Now come on! We have more important issues to deal with!”

Which all seems like a terribly serious way to introduce a discussion about Kirstie Alley’ desire to bone an Italian. But not really. Just give me a moment, and I’ll get there.

I was looking for a topic to write about this morning, I stumbled across a headline screaming “Kirstie Alley looking for Italian Stallion.”  I’m not too proud to say I immediately checked it out. I wrote about this the other day; these people are our friends. We need to keep an eye on them.

Brace yourself, Giuseppe!

Brace yourself, Giuseppe!

I’m glad I did. This was an important story. And a worldwide one. When I Googled it this morning, I saw it was being given worldwide coverage by some very reputable news services. Ms Alley’s unquenchable desire for some red hot Mediterranean lovin’ is today’s “shot that was heard round the world.”

If you haven’t read about it yet, don’t bother. I’ll talk you through it. Alley, erstwhile star of “Cheers” and “Veronica’s Closet” is going to spend the summer in Italy. While she’s there, she would quite like to have sex with an Italian person. Did she say so? She did not. So where did the story come from? Easy. It came from “a source”. Screw Watergate. This is journalism at the sharp edge. This is the stuff we tune in for.

And now, in breaking news, a close friend of Tom Cruise's driver says he is considering buying a sandwich.

And now, in breaking news, a close friend of Tom Cruise’s driver says he is considering buying a second chafing-dish.

Most days I would have gone to town with this. Not today. Today I am tired and grumpy because I was driven from the warmth of my bed by a small angry person armed with a teddy bear and a frozen hot-water-bottle in the dead of night. Today I see the importance of a story like this. Today I see value where usually I would just laugh.

You think I’m joking, don’t you? I’m not. These are the stories where you can stand up and be counted. This is where you matter. Kirstie and her tasty little stallion. The story is so breathtakingly vacuous that they’re going to leave it alone. No experts. No panel discussions. No insightful editorials in the New York Times. Just the facts, such as they are, and you.

So now what?

So now what?

It’s journalism the way the young me was taught it. You get to decide. Come on. You can do this. Is Kirstie a dirty little minx? Is she a strong and independent adult who can make her own decisions about who she sleeps with or doesn’t? Do you care? Are you slightly taken aback at the idea that a group of grownups sat down at a table and decided that the world would benefit from knowing this?

Enjoy yourself. It’s the only chance you’ll get today. All the other stories will be important ones. Ones you can’t be trusted to decide about for yourself. Gun control in the States. Elections in Australia. Terrorism in the UK. Poo in South Africa. These are significant issues. You cannot be trusted with them. Just sit tight until Glenn or Arianna let you know how you feel.

Bacon in Canada.

Bacon in Canada.

And if you’re struggling with the Kirstie issue, let me see if I can help you out. Glenn will think she’s a dirty little minx. I guarantee it. Arianna? Strong and independent adult who is entitled to enjoy her freedoms. Me? Aging stranger whose sexual proclivities I would pay good money never to have to think about. Ever.

32 thoughts on “43. Kirstie Alley is feeling a little antsy.

  1. Louella says:

    I never saw the bit on Kirstie Alley raging after an Itallion Stallion, and I’m another who does not care to know, not really. NOT the details anyhow.. lol

    Though Kirstie Rocks, and I do like the picture of the bacon at the end. Summed everything up beautifully!

    *races off to the kitchen*

  2. kelloggs77 says:

    For someone who says he’s not so comfortable with being Master of the Universe, you sure keep proving you’re up for the job. By the way, I would think my drunk blue-balled monkey is finished washing your car by now. Can you please send him home? We’re taking a family photo and we need him here so we can make sure we’re all wearing the same shade of blue…you know, as his balls.

    • 23thorns says:

      With the greatest of pleasure. He finished within minutes, and then stole my beer and ran up onto the roof. he’s been sunning “himself” all afternoon, and the neighbours are starting to talk.

      • kelloggs77 says:

        Oh great. He’s such a little sh*t. And I’m sure he didn’t use any sunscreen. Now his balls are going to be purple, and it’s totally going to ruin the family photo. We should have gotten a pot-bellied pig instead.

  3. narf77 says:

    I spent the first part of this post with my fingers in my ears loudly proclaiming “LA-LA-LA-I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU!” Mr 23Thorns. I prefer not to bother with the news most of the time. I have an inverse relationship with the news. If I don’t listen to it, I tend to be able to maintain the status quo with my temper. If I happen to even hear it in passing (say when going to the fridge to avail myself of milk for my tea…) I feel the overwhelming urge to weigh into the debate (usually me against the television…) so to save myself giving Steve more amunition to have me tucked safely away for “my own good” I tend to steer clear of the news as a whole. As soon as we got to Ms. Alley we were back on my home turf. NOW you are talking Mr 23Thorns. Of COURSE Ms. Alley wants an Italian man. I don’t believe that bollocks about “needing a passionate man” for a moment…Italian’s can cook and if one has slipped through the cooking net, their mothers can cook. Safe bet Ms Alley can slip away to obscurity in Italy and return to her true passion. Ms Alley seems to have completely forgotten that she should perhaps be aiming at men that will truly appreciate her somewhat rotund derierre…even I know that certain African men appreciate a significant rear end. Perhaps she should veer over to the African side? I am more impressed with the news headlines at the top of your link…”Karlien and Derick are having a baby?!” and you didn’t tell us Mr 23Thorns?!!! and I had NO idea that “A scanning device designed, built, and distributed in South Africa has been showcased on TV show Grey’s Anatomy.” Hopefully I didn’t just out your next 2 posts…You see what happens when you dig a little bit under the surface of another countries sandpit? You find what the cat/baboon left behind 😉

    • 23thorns says:

      Whatever you do don’t scroll down to the comments section on that site. You will lose any remaining faith you have in humanity within minutes. It seems to be a magnet for every racist, bigot, religious/irreligious zealot and hatemonger in the country.
      I listen to the news on my car radio every day, but every now and then I hit critical mass and have to turn it off for a few months.

      • narf77 says:

        I hit critical mass as soon as I hear the music for the news broadcast. I am not allowed to watch/listen to/partake in debate with the television or radio when it comes to “news”. It’s bad for my health (and anyone around me 😉 )

  4. warmginger says:

    Our first lesson at journalism school was that we were all there to sell newspapers and that was it (I’m so old the internet was still in nappies then!).

  5. Lyn says:

    There is one thing that really angers me in journalism; and that’s when a journo who is talking to someone who has just found out their teenaged son/daughter has been decapitated in an horrific car accident and they say, “How did you feel when the police informed you that your son/daughter was dead?” Do some of these journalists major in “Moron” at university and minor in “compassion and tact”?
    I don’t give a rats about Kirstie Alley thank you Mr Television Newsman.
    And Mr. 23Thorns, regarding your “….grumpy because I was driven from the warmth of my bed by a small angry person armed with a teddy bear and a frozen hot-water-bottle in the dead of night.” I can fully understand and sympathise, for the same thing happened to me last night…only the small angry person was a large angry person…ME!
    Another fine piece of true journalistic entertainment 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      Half the stuff we see these days is voyeurism, not news. The “journalists” are trying so hard to find the human angle on every story that they have learned exactly which buttons to push to get a bit of drama going, and if they exacerbate someone’s pain in the process, no matter.

  6. We definitely don’t get real news, and listening to the gibberish that passes for news is not being informed. This blog provides better insight (and is much more entertaining) than the “news”. Thanks for another great post!

    • 23thorns says:

      Thank you. The sad part is that the people peddling the gibberish don’t seem to be informed either. Just opinionated. And that’s not the same thing.

  7. mariekeates says:

    All I think is yuck! A mental picture I did not want!

  8. JC says:

    Very well written post! We are force fed opinions and I for one, feel like the proverbial goose about to be made into foie gras. Too much force feeding these days!

  9. erickuns says:

    I noticed you gave your opinion is at the end of the day, this is who will pay to not have to hear about … Well, I will not mention, unless you first agree on a price for me to do. Helmi asserts that many of the blogger has an opinion of his own and likes to defragment it.

  10. “….grumpy because I was driven from the warmth of my bed by a small angry person armed with a teddy bear and a frozen hot-water-bottle in the dead of night.” Ah, to hear more on this…how you manage to write with such wit on so little sleep. I’m proud of you. Now why was the hot water bottle frozen?

  11. I agree with smallpebbles. Society rubs some of their dust on us. When can we really say our opinion is really OURS to begin with and not our mother’s and our mother’s mother.

  12. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Perfect example – climate change, you are either for or against -I don’t think there’s any middle of the road reporting. So now there are some subjects which, when I see a headline, I don’t bother reading about. It saves a lot of time.

  13. smallpebbles says:

    Great thoughtful post – and yet, that conditioning is what happens to human innocence from day one….thoughts are programmed into the human system, which then turn into beliefs. Silent Awareness behind all thoughts is Peace……

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