by Mad Dog
The truth is, auctioning off a can of Prince
Albert tobacco on eBay just so you can send a follow-up email saying, "Now that you
have Prince Albert in a can why dont you let him out" just isnt funny.
|| For years Ive been told that if you ask a stupid question youll
get a stupid answer. Unlike "The harder you work the more money youll
make" and "Pauley Shore just needs to find the right vehicle", this saying
happens to be true. Its a shame no one in the media seems to have heard it, though.
Lately theyve been asking a rash of stupid questions, consulting experts or taking a
survey, never stopping to realize that theyre the only ones who didnt know the
answer in the first place. Somewhere along the line reportable, rhetorical, and ridiculous
have become one and the same.
Remember a while back when there was a rash of hoax items put up
for sale on eBay? First someone tried to auction off a slightly used kidney. Then someone
else put a baby up for sale. The next thing you knew there was a brain being offered to
the highest bidder. (I have to admit I did bid on that one. After all, I could tell it was
a good deal since it obviously hadnt been used much.) Through all of this there were
newspaper articles and TV stories about it everywhere, each one asking the burning
question, "Why are people doing this?"
Well, duh! When we were younger why did we randomly call
people on the phone to ask if their refrigerator was running? Certainly not because we
thought saying "Well why dont you run after it?" was hysterically funny.
We did it because we could. And, of course, because eBay didnt exist yet.
Instant gratification would be our national mantra if only it didnt take so damned
long to say because of all those syllables.
thats a far cry from kidneys and kids," youre saying, confusing it with
the greasy, soggy dish you ordered in a pub in London last year because some guy with more
empty pints in front of him than teeth in his mouth recommended it. Well this is the
90s. Its almost a new millennium (in case nobody has mentioned it in the last
four minutes). And the truth is, auctioning off a can of Prince Albert tobacco on eBay
just so you can send a follow-up email saying, "Now that you have Prince Albert in a
can why dont you let him out" just isnt funny, even though it is better
than most of the forwarded jokes your friends keep sending you when theyre supposed
to be working.
I didnt go to journalism school but I did
take one course in high school, which makes me as much of an expert on this as anyone. I
remember being taught that a good story answers the questions: who, what, when, where, and
how. Maybe they need to update this and start asking themselves: "Who didnt
Time magazine has also started subscribing to the Big Duh! Not
long ago they ran an article about the return of the short story because several
compilations made the bestseller list. In the article they said editors were theorizing
that the short storys newfound popularity is due to the increase in creative writing
programs in the 80s which caused writers to have a lot of short stories hanging
around. Right, and the brain trust that decided we need a movie version of
"Hogans Heroes" will get a Nobel Prize in economics next year, too.
I want to know whether people buy Snickers because they think it will make them laugh. I
want to find out whether running for President makes you boring or if only boring people
want to be President.
|| Face it,
were an A.D.H.D. nation (I say while popping Ritalin like Altoids). We have no time
to waste, no attention span to speak of, and nowhat was I saying, again? Oh yeah, we
have itchy fingers that hit the remote or click the mouse button if something bores us,
which generally occurs after three consecutive seconds of anything that doesnt
include Jennifer Lopez or George Clooney. Six seconds if its the two of them
together. Instant gratification would be our national mantra if only it didnt take
so damned long to say because of all those syllables.
short stories are the perfect literary form. Theyre concise, they dont have
many characters to keep track of, and you can finish one in about the same time it takes
to dry your Ricky Martin T-shirt in the microwave. Duh!
But wait, theres more! A consulting firm recently
released a survey that said people who shop online do it primarily for convenience. Wow! I
could have sworn they did it because they were on a diet and wanted to avoid the
temptation of Mrs. Fields and Cinnabon at the mall. Another study just out says
teenagers who drink or use drugs are more likely to be sexually active. Incredible! Who
would have imagined that alcohol and drugs would loosen anyone up?
Now dont get me wrong, Im not saying the media
always asks stupid questions. In fact, sometimes they ask very intelligent ones. The
problem then is they have to be careful who they pose them to, especially when there are
people like presidential candidate George W. Bush around, a man whose primary talent seems
to be coming up with stupid answers to perfectly good questions.
I need to find out who it is that dreams up these articles and
surveys. Something tells me theyre making big bucks coming up with questions that
have obvious answers and I want a piece of the action. I want to know whether people buy
Snickers because they think it will make them laugh. I want to find out whether running
for President makes you boring or if only boring people want to be President. And most of
all I want to know exactly who it was that decided to remake Hogans Heroes. And no,
its not so I can nominate him or her for the Nobel prize, its so I can ask the
question we all already know the answer to: "Do you really think anyones going
to go see it?"
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them, but don't ask stupid questions.