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For those not in-the-know: Fred Phelps invented the Westboro Baptist Church in the mid-’50s. Said church has no actual affiliations with any other Baptist churches, and is pretty widely condemned as a hate group by just about every American. Except for about 70, which is the total number (almost all related to Phelps) of members in the WBC.

Fred Phelps believes that everything bad that happens in America is the fault of homosexuals. Natural disasters, dead soldiers, every time you wreck your bike…is punishment for a nation that tolerates homosexuals.

This has all come to a head in the past decade due, in large part, to America’s involvement in military action overseas. Phelps and his family have used this to exercise their cherished First Amendment rights to picket and pester the funerals of fallen soldiers.

It’s a tricky gray area, indeed. A paradox, even. Most claim that any American soldier who dies in combat, does so to protect his countrymen’s rights – One of those being the First Amendment, which warrants our beloved Freedom of Speech.

It’s the basis for the Fuck the Troops campaign – a supposedly ironic coalition designed to make it apparent how hypocritical our Rights actually are.

Fair enough. I agree.

In 2006 George W. Bush had to sign into law the Respect For America’s Fallen Heroes Act – a really long name for something that basically says, “Leave a 300-foot, 1-hour buffer between your protest and a military funeral.” It should be noted that the act only applied to about 150 cemeteries throughout the country.

So is it possible for our country to have it both ways? To laud our troops and make it okay to say, “Fuck ’em” at the same time?

It is, apparently, if you blame it all on the gays. You see, Phelps and co. have just beaten the system. In Maryland, with Phelps’ own daughter representing their church, he’s won a civil suit brought forth by the father of a Marine whose funeral the WBC picketed in 2006. The ruling, which is to be appealed of course, requires the father to pay all of the WBC’s legal costs.

For the record, Fred Phelps was disbarred in the ’70s for many reasons, most notably because he reduced a witness to tears during a week-long cross-examination, in which he also referred to her as a “slut.” He lost the case.

Most Christians, if not all, are against the actions of Fred Phelps. But I don’t think that’s good enough. Fred Phelps himself believes that merely voicing an opinion is not good enough. He can’t just set up an internet blog and accuse gays of destroying our country. He has to organize gatherings…a physical presence…in order to prove his point:

Every dead soldier is the fault of homosexuals.

Not taking into account human conscience, common sense and decency, he’s been afforded that right.

So it’s not enough to say that Fred Phelps is a closet homosexual, whose religion has frightened him into such a tiny corner (in a closet) that he has no other psychological response other than to accuse all homosexuals of ruining his country. Because it is clear that Fred Phelps is gay.

I'd hump my Bible, if it weren't written by dudes!

There’s a second caption that I didn’t feel comfortable adding… But I’m just such a stickler for freedom of speech:

“Just behind this podium, Pat Robertson has his jowls pressed firmly against my balls!”

So…if there isn’t a way to respect the dead and our inalienable rights at the same time, at the very least we can shame Fred Phelps into submission by posting every picture we have of him sinning and sodomizing and having sex with puppies and inserting bottles of hot sauce into his rectum and – you get the picture – all over Topeka, Kansas.

If daughter Phelps wants to align daddy’s cause with the righteous and make a martyr of her gay dad, so be it.

In no particular order, I honor you with 28 things and/or people that, in the nature of the Seinfeldian observational pet-peeve, genuinely piss me off. Some more than others. I list 28 as an homage to our shortest month, which is now at an end.

  1. The line in that Steve Miller Band song, Fly Like an Eagle, that says, “want to shoe the children / with no shoes on their feet.” The word “shoe” is just such a bad word choice, especially when spoken, since it sounds as though one would want to “shoo” or drive away children in need. Not to mention the fact that the word itself isn’t even a legitimate verb. Also, not that Steve Miller Band ever delighted me lyrically or musically – that lyric, in particular, has always pissed me off
  2. People who rate their level of certainty in percentage form. Maybe I’m wrong (I’m not, and 100% of dictionaries will agree), but “certain” can only mean 100%. As in, I’m am (100%) certain, anyone who suggests they are merely 90% certain is 100% retarded and understands 0% of the definition of the word, “certain.”
  3. That 3-year period in the late Nineties where every up-and-coming band had to cover a song that was a hit in the Eighties. “Faith” sucked in 1988 when George Michael did it, why would anyone think it would be any better when Limp Bizkit did it?
  4. Going Green has become such a fad, yet Ralph Nader is still a political Nobody. A question mark was meant to follow that statement, but I’m conserving energy by not holding down the shift-key while simultaneously pressing another key.
  5. People who tout the sanctity of marriage, in regards to same-sex marriage. “Divorce is okay, but if you’ve both got weiners, ‘No way!'” I would venture to say that nothing is more destructive to the sanctity of marriage than the dissolution of a marriage…
  6. The casual disregard of all traffic laws when grocery shopping. I know you need to analyze in depth which cheese might be right for you, but would you stop to read road signs while turning your car at an angle so it blocks all traffic?
  7. The entire Huey Lewis catalogue.
  8. Guys who find it necessary to announce their intention to partake in a bodily function. I don’t really need to know what you plan on doing to the toilet.
  9. Eating while driving. I guess some people just don’t have the time to stop and eat their 3-dollar cheeseburger.
  10. The Avatar buzz that wrapped the country around its finger for longer than two months. If I made a movie that was mentioned in every single news segment, it might turn a profit, too.
  11. People who think a president can fix an economy that they broke.
  12. The concept of the Manifest Destiny…
  13. The Flaming Lips covering Dark Side of the Moon. I’ve heard a lot of pieces of shit, in my time here on Earth. That album is one of those pieces of shit. The remake, that is. The Pink Floyd version is not a piece of shit.
  14. Public phone calls. Seriously, what has happened in the past 12 years to cause everyone to need to be on their cell phones at all times? Idly chatting while you drive, or shop, or masturbate is not multitasking – it’s a mismanagement of your time. Get your shit together. I don’t want to over-hear a one-sided conversation, because I will pay attention, it will distract me, and I will have no idea what’s being said on the other end.
  15. Thirteen to go. This list is starting to piss me off.
  16. The seemingly acceptable belief that screaming obscenities at your child in public is not damaging in the least. But spanking them? That’s abuse.
  17. Song-syncs. I don’t really care what Britney Spears’ “Oops I did it again” might sound like when its vocals are laid over the music to “Semi-Charmed Life.” No one should care – it’s stupid. The Grey Album can go fuck itself.
  18. People who have something just slightly wrong with their voice. It’s not enough that you can pinpoint the exact condition, but something is definitely awry. Does she have a lisp? Is she retarded? Does she have a forked tongue? Something…not…right.
  19. People who, when asked what kind of music they listen to, say, “I like everything.” No. No, you don’t. Don’t make me prove it.
  20. Heath Ledger winning best supporting actor for The Dark Knight over Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt still pisses me off.

People will often use the memory of someone they knew marginally to catapult sympathy onto themselves. They will hijack the idea of mourning and make it the subject of their own personal use. This is not only offensive, it is unsettling and demeaning. And, not to mention, embarrassingly selfish.

There is a difference between mourning the death of someone and being sad about their demise. And it’s not even a minute difference – it’s vast.

People especially want to hijack the death of someone young. And everyone is guilty of, at least once, saying, “They were so young.” That’s fine. It’s one thing to be moved by the death of someone at a young age. It reminds us all of our mortality, it puts things into perspective, and it makes us think of how we might treat people differently in the future.

So that our reputations are untarnished, when we die.

It goes to ridiculous lengths. Posting messages to a dead person, on their Myspace and Facebook pages? Really, as though there were internet access in heaven (can you imagine the cable length? wi-fi is way out of range!), and the dead would use those means to check up on the goings-on in this realm. This is proof of your superficiality in regards to their demise.

I’ve mourned. And I’ve been sad. I mourn the deaths of people who have affected me personally – people who have influenced my life. I am sad about the deaths of individuals who merely died, empathetically. But I’ve never confused the two. And to take hold of someone else’s memory for personal gain – that of sympathy (which makes me wonder what that’s even worth) – is, at its very best, weird.

Recently, there have been two girls that have died in or near my hometown. They were both pregnant, and they were both young. The number of people affected by their deaths is staggering. People have gone so far as to mourn the unborn children, whom they have never known. The only person I could really understand mourning the death of an unborn child is the mother or father (and not really the father, even), and in both of these cases, the mother died as well.

What do we get from this? What benefit is there in claiming to have lost someone so dear to you?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I mean, I know the abstract reasons. But I do not identify with this.

I’ve always maintained that I will die young. I am 27 now and ready to go at any minute – not because I hate life or long for death. I just know that I will be unaffected (aside from the whole death thing) by my own passing. I am not afraid for my own outcome. I know there is no Heaven and no God and that I will be merely buried, no longer to exist. But if I am wrong – if there is some sort of afterlife, and you choose to mourn me and hijack my own death for your own personal sympathy…I will haunt the fuck out of you. There are probably about a dozen people who have loved me and I have loved in return, genuinely. These people know me and care for me. And vice versa. Anyone other than them in attendance at my funeral, or claiming to have been my best friend, will be met by the most vicious hauntings this side of Poltergeist.

Simply put, I don’t get it. It is downright creepy. And it has to border on some facet of necrophilia. I’d rather not analyze it too in-depth for those reasons, but still the question remains: What is gained? Why is our society so eager to profit from death (both financially and emotionally)?

I don’t get it.

We are a self-obsessed nation. This is not news. One trip through anyone’s personal profile on any one of the social networking sites will turn up hundreds of needless pictures from that person’s life. They’ve uploaded them for the approval of some unknown entity, I’m sure. Some are duplicates or near-duplicates. Some are blurry beyond all recognition…

I’ve never pretended to be a good photographer. Truth be told, I’ve always contended that I’m a rather poor photographer. For my needs, I’d much rather describe a situation. I mean, whatever happened to good old-fashioned imagery, anyway? I prefer a well-written personal recollection of an event to a snapshot, any day.

What is strangest to me, perhaps, is seeing pictures of people I know personally – these pictures being an obvious fraud of their reality. And I think that, really, this is the reason there is such a prevalence of this ‘internet photography.’

The internet proved itself a long time ago to be a safe haven for the socially maladjusted and those too inadequate to ever find themselves trying to be a real person.

So now, instead of individuals randomly skewering each others’ political leanings and favorite forms of entertainment via message boards, we’ve got a surge of people with photographed proof of what they are. An uncommitted, flunky, too-young-to-care parent can become mom of the year. The boring and lame are suddenly party animals. Hold a guitar, and you’re Eddie Van Halen.

In case you can't visualize a drunken haze...

We can doctor ourselves into anything we want to be now, in this new internet-environment. I am aware that people haven’t been real for a while now. And I am aware that this is never going to change. I am still bothered by it. Because I look back and think, well maybe that person read me incorrectly or maybe they didn’t know I was making fun of them or whatever… I would venture to guess that roughly 98% of my behavior is mockery. The other 2% is probably me being sleepy.

That point is moot. What I’m suggesting is that people have gone so far overboard on trying to force down the throats of others what they are or are not, that they don’t even exist as people anymore. A copy of a copy of a copy of a… Do you even remember what you are? I guess it all comes down to self-awareness. If you don’t even care to take a decent picture before you add thousands, taken seconds apart, to your Facebook page, then why the hell would anyone care to look at them? Unless of course, they’re for your benefit, in which case your time might be better spent taking a photography class or…something.

I have no intention of seeing Avatar.

One of my favorite things about being a living breathing person, is knowing that there are other people out there, being people. More and more, I see our culture becoming more and more identity-less. It’s not comforting, in the least. I do find myself with a better understanding of why I identify with cats, and dogs, and even children. Cats and dogs don’t pretend (if they do, they don’t broadcast it), and when children do, it’s the real kind of pretend.

My boyfriend left this over. Because I'm pictured with it, I am a musician just like Justin Timberlake!

Yes, we are becoming former-people, a race so focused on perceived image that we’ve lost all contact with the details of reality. It works out well for James Cameron, no matter how you look at it. I mean, that’s pretty much the plot to every single one of his movies, right? Eh, I guess no one else is getting hurt. Who really looks at this shit, after all?

On behalf of humanity, I will grudgingly welcome the new robot overlords.

One of the problems with a society that worships its celebrities, is that they hold them to this superhuman standard. We force this standard, one that we can generally not achieve ourselves, and we then flog them into submission when they bleed human blood.

I’ve always felt that a celebrity’s personal life is irrelevant to their public life. If Michael Jackson did actually have sex with children (though I don’t think he did), it has no effect on how I hear “Billie Jean.” Tiger Woods’ infidelity has nothing to do with his golf swing. And Brad Pitt diddling whoever does not change the opinion I hold over some of his better roles.

The only celebrity I’ve ever pictured Tyler Durden boning is Helena Bonham Carter.

I am not surprised by the media’s tabloid obsession with the Tiger Woods sex-scandal. But I am slightly offended by it.

The number of men in this country who cheat on their wives is staggering. Some don’t respect their significant others, some just plain like fucking, and some just can’t help but go with that primitive urge. You know, the one that tells us to bang as many ladies as possible.

So let’s turn the tables and again point the finger of blame where it belongs…

Isn’t that how procreation works, media? You loved Tiger Woods before. You thought he was a great guy, a 14-time champion, an all-around noble human being. Wouldn’t you want him to go out there and make a bunch more baby Tiger Woodses? Consider that, perhaps, you told him with your genuine fascination, you told him he was above other humans. He had some powers that were great and needed to be shared with the rest of the world. So it’s understandable then that his human mind would bungle this information and tell his penis to stick itself into whatever vagina would have it. Makes sense to me.

So wait to go media, you’re an adulterer. You give your undying love to Tiger and years later, you take it away. I hope you have a hefty prenup…

…no I don’t.

The media has systematically destroyed Woods’ shot at redemption, and then they complain of his calculated rebuttal.

It is beyond ridiculous to expect this much from the celebrity you helped to deify. Tiger Woods was never a god, but merely a gifted golfer. He cheated on his wife several times. Those problems can be dealt with without the help of tabloid media.

You brand a celebrity couple with a stupid name like Brangelina, then you wet yourself when said relationship fails?

Let go, America. If every single man who cheated on his wife or had sex without love was made to be run through the ringer the way Tiger Woods has, this wouldn’t be an issue.

It’s a sad situation, I will agree. A man being forced into family life to preserve his image. Then that family life and image being devastated. Who built this system?

I was a golfer, too. But more importantly, I was President! And that makes infidelity okay.

It’s no wonder America is a dying nation.

They’re now calling them the “Twitter Generation.” And I don’t really know what that means.    

I assume it has something to do with them using Twitter.    

Twitter itself is something I don’t completely understand. It’s an unbelievably unnecessary social networking site employing the use of something called Short Message Service. Basically, it’s designed so people can “network” via text messages, in particular.    

If the past five years have taught us anything, Twitter has about one year left to live. MySpace went out like the T-Rex (and Marc Bolan). And Facebook is trying to figure out how to get Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck into space to bust up a meteor.    

America, as a whole, doesn’t have much of an attention span. This is nothing new, of course. It gets worse as time goes on. I have less and less in common with these people, and I’m not just referring to age. In short, this generation makes me feel old. I don’t want to feel old. I was happy… scratch that. I was content that I’ve maintained some of my more  youthful ideas.    

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded.”    

-Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage    

That was written nearly one-hundred years ago. Everyone should already know the story, but I’ll summarize anyway:    

 Philip Carey loses his parents young. His aunt and uncle then try to raise him, but they are too lazy to do so properly. Despite this, Philip proves himself to be a gifted scholar, mostly due to his isolation. As he grows, he scales the usual steps – questions his religious beliefs, wants to bang an older woman, lets his guardians try and control his future, yadda, yadda, yadda. All the while, he can’t decide what he wants to do with his life. He drifts a bit, and then finds himself in medicine, has a few flings, loses all his money to a bad investment and then gets a healthy enough inheritance to go on. He meets a physician, with whom he goes into business. Then Philip meets the dude’s daughter, bangs her and supposedly knocks her up. But he really doesn’t knock her up. Anyway, he forsakes his beliefs to marry her. In the end, he admits that the traditional route through life is the most logical route.    

Before I drift too far off topic… I like stories such as Of Human Bondage because they contain nearly an entire existence. And there’s your history. Without Philip Carey’s past there couldn’t have been an ending. His conclusion relies entirely on all of his past adventures, his trials & tribulations, etc. Though it is meant to be a tragic ending, he believes the easiest course is the best course. In other words, he gives up.    

Nobody likes history. Okay, some people do. But it’s fair to say that the majority dislike it immensely. I was not one of those people. I loved it when I was younger and still do. Most people don’t have the attention span for history lessons. Twitter doesn’t teach you to research the past. And it gives you no warnings about the future. The “Twitter Generation” is very painfully stuck in Right Now. (It’d be even more painful if it were that dreadful Van Hagar song)    

In school, they are phasing out the teaching of penmanship and cursive-writing. They already have major grammatical issues because of ‘text-language’, and kids use “U” in place of “You” and “R” in place of “Are” on papers they later submit for letter-grades…    

Say 'Hello' to your new god.

 

I might have been lucky in my youth. It may very well be that I just happened to be surrounded by many gifted people whom I respected and admired.  Then again, maybe those were more youthful ideals I was blinded by. Many people have gone on to be not all that different from Philip Carey. And more and more people will. I may be a Philip Carey someday.  

If tradition dictates that the easiest way out is the best way out, then you can expect nothing but mediocrity. And that’s all we will ever get from this “Twitter Generation.” I begrudgingly gave in to the likes of MySpace and Facebook. I eventually got to a point where I could understand how to use them in a way that suited me personally. Twitter is different, and I know this immediately. If for no other reason than its claiming of a generation.    

Simply enough, the new generation is being raised by people who don’t know how to raise children. People that elected George W. Bush (twice) and were giving serious thought to letting Sarah Palin into the White House (she got a book deal, anyway.)  Good intentions aren’t always good enough.  

Is there a stutter here? Did time hiccough? Did I fall asleep? Or was I, after all, just lucky all along.    

If you look over the past one-hundred years, you’ll notice that each generation had a different way of raising subsequent generations. The Great Depression, the Baby Boom, Vietnam…on and on, these things reverberated through society, and they had massive effects on how younger generations were brought up.  

The Information Age, ironically, has taught us very little. Except for the whereabouts of Ashton Kutcher… 

We have fewer values. I don’t mean that in the religious sense but the moral sense. We’ve become more self-serving and less self-aware. It will only get worse. It will never get better.  

We are doomed. Nothing has changed. And everything has changed. All at the same time.

J.D. Salinger is dead.  

Amazon.com is involved in another dispute concerning its Kindle software/hardware.  

Salinger was a recluse for the majority of his importance to American literature. Kindle takes some of your favorite literary works and converts them so they can be read on your iPhone, Blackberry, et al. Because The Crucible is best imagined while deciding whether or not you should text your jealous ex-boyfriend.  

I’m inclined to leave my feelings at that. Because I think that says it all.  

But I am opinionated. And verbose. And I believe in Art.  

I actually prefer pumpernickel!

 

We are already on a dangerous road. This road has already been paved. And the signs already dictate our destination.  

I have now seen every art form, aside from cave paintings, perverted by this technological race we’ve embarked upon.  

I repeat, J.D. Salinger is dead.  

Of course, I say. He was 91. Big deal.  

Kurt Vonnegut died nearly 2 years ago.  

Arthur Miller went in 2005. John Updike, nearly a year ago. Hell, even Michael Crichton is dead.  

Stephen King once said that one of his favorite things is the smell of the pages of a book with its spine freshly cracked.  

It is a fine smell, indeed, Mr. King.  

What have we left? Does an iPod have a scent? What does a Blackberry smell like? The device, not the fruit.  

I don’t know. And I don’t care to know.  

Salinger’s death hasn’t dealt any particular blow to the literary world. He was a hermit, after all. But his passing has made headlines, a fact which surprises me. I can only assume it’s because of his enigmatic nature. And probably because everyone has read Catcher in the Rye.  

Regardless, I am likening all of this not to the death of an individual but the death of an era – of an art form.  

Artists are aware of the way their intended audience is going to receive their art. For centuries, novelists have used the power of the page and adapted to it. No matter the strength of the tide, there have always been authors who really knew how to use that medium.  

Short stories have become a thing of the past because no one reads magazines or periodicals anymore. I don’t know how many American authors honed their skills, and supported themselves, through these means. Kurt Vonnegut often made mention of the fact that he pretty much had to start writing novels because, even in the ’50s, short stories were a dying market.  

If Hemingway were still living, he would be 111 years old. If A Farewell to Arms were still living, it would celebrate its 81st birthday this year.  

For what it’s worth, our socially-irresponsible and borrowed culture has produced an inordinant amount of brilliant novelists, essayists, dramatists, et al. Even the works of some of the not-so-good-but-popular (see Crichton or King) have translated to film very well.  

Not to put too fine a point on it, I am not thrilled by the idea of e-books. In fact, the “e-” prefix has always frightened me a bit. I’m not a tech-guy. I like the smell, the feel, and the sight of the printed word.  

And really, this is just another death in the long, long limitless line of deaths.  

…I’d rather curl up with my billionth-pressing copy of Catcher in the Rye and let everyone else think about the hell that’s being bestowed upon the literary world.  

Convenience is propaganda.

 

And the winner is…   

If there is one thing we’ve learned so far this year, it’s the stupidity of your casual television viewer.   

For some reason, everyone has an opinion on the Leno VS. Conan VS. NBC debacle, a collision that is both unimportant and important at the same time. For pretty much the same reasons.   

I am reminded of the mob mentality: You’re either with us or against us.   

Conan O’Brien has been one of the few comedic heroes of our generation. In his much-publicized release from NBC, he’s come out not only the hero, but the martyr.   

So what happened to make this all…well…happen? If you don’t already know, Conan signed a contract with NBC in 2004 to overtake The Tonight Show five years later. Jay Leno’s job was being outsourced to a younger generation. Fair enough. When that five years rolled on by, Jay Leno, not ready to retire, signed a contract with NBC for a new show, in primetime.   

In the past ten years, there has been a new precedent set for primetime. Comedy is out, and drama is all the rage. So, understandably, ratings for Leno’s show weren’t all that hot. But neither were the ratings for Conan’s Tonight Show.   

Flashback: When Johnny Carson retired in 1992, it was widely believed and accepted that David Letterman would be the Tonight Show heir. He was not. Jay Leno, Carson’s permanent guest host, got the nod and stepped in. Letterman, feeling slighted, left the network.   

This seems oddly familiar, no?   

Strangely, Jay Leno has always been a controversial figure, not because of his PG-13 humor or politics, but because of his involvement with The Tonight Show.   

Television audiences have shown themselves to be largely in Conan’s corner. But let’s be fair, here. The media hasn’t exactly been kind to Leno in the process. It’s logical that most viewers would side with Conan.   

Flashback: When Letterman went to CBS, he was the late-night ratings leader. For two years. It wasn’t until the mid-’90s that Leno became a legitimate contender. But once he found his audience, he held onto them pretty strongly throughout his tenure (the first one) at The Tonight Show.   

A big deal has been made of the fact that Conan was only given 7 months to get the ratings NBC wanted. Apparently, NBC was expecting some carry-over from Conan’s Late Night that they just weren’t getting. This suggests that, ultimately, it was all about ratings.   

It wasn’t.   

This whole I’m With Coco campaign is ridiculous. The American attention span has decreased significantly since 1992. People missed Conan on Late Night, of that I’m sure. It was nice to see Andy Richter back in the fold, but Conan’s Tonight Show was missing so much from Late Night with Conan. But it wasn’t just Conan. And it wasn’t just Leno’s primetime series. Let’s be honest, late night talk shows have been lame and getting lamer for the past five or six years. The material, for my generation, hit its peak in the late ’90s, what with Monica Lewinsky. And then that silly George W. Bush guy running for office. That was late night humor.   

I'm With Coco

The best America can do.

 

So yes, let’s be honest. Conan got a raw deal, in that he wasn’t given a whole lot of time to get the ratings that NBC wanted. But Leno got a raw deal, too. The raw deal, however, didn’t come from any of the involved parties. Not from NBC, Conan or Leno. The raw deal came from the American television audience.   

Think about the modern expectations for television programs. They are minimal.   

Seinfeld, saviour to NBC, was constantly at risk of being cancelled every season until its 4th. The show that would one day go down as one of the finest ever produced, hung by a thread. For years. If you look at the ratings that Seinfeld received in those first 3 years, it would be considered a hit by today’s standards.   

Today, television programs are produced primarily with the intention of selling you things. Some take a very direct route, American Idol, and are massively successful. Some, Arrested Development, subvert that notion and turn it into a running gag, and are cancelled after only 3 seasons, despite the number of honorable awards earned.   

In the battle over late night, who wins? Nobody. Because the American television audience just proved its worth to every corporate entity involved in television production.   

Flashback: Mary Tyler Moore ran from 1970 to 1977. More than thirty years ago, regular episodes ran longer than 25 minutes, not counting product commercials.   

Flashback: The Simpsons began airing, in its sitcom form, in 1989. Still on the air after 20 years, it has lost more than 2 minutes of air-time to product commercials. The average running-time now is just above 21 minutes, not counting commercials.   

I’m with Coco. To the extent that Conan refused to let NBC change what he deemed a cherished American institution, I support him. However, I feel that this martyrdom is about 15 years too late. Television isn’t for television programs anymore. It’s for commercials. And if the American audience that supports Coco had been paying attention, they might have noticed in time to fix it.   

The networks don’t even do what you tell them to, anymore. You now do their bidding. Way to go.