Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Taiwanese animators coloring future news

Something I used to enjoy doing three times a day is becoming impossible for me to do even once.

I’m sure exposure to multiple hours of erectile dysfunction ads have conditioned you to conclude I’ve become sexually feckless.

That isn’t it and I’ll resist the manly urge to make up some face-saving “Hail, Zeus!” quotes and attribute them to my wife.

This is something lots of people do fully clothed while they’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I’m talking about watching the local news.

It’s become a bore. There nothing new about the news. Only no-frill white box cereals are less generic.

Worse, we rarely watch the news. We instead watch reporters and law enforcers talk about the news. And it’s all the same.

I swear you could take any random broadcast from the past year, re-broadcast it today, and no one would know the difference.

Happily, I’ve found a futuristic solution. And I’ll tell you all about it right after the weather (that’s what those in the news business call “a tease”)!

Few people realize it but the root of news is, in fact, new.

This was, er, news to me back when I was a young reporter in Nashville. I overheard an editor ask a police reporter, “Any news, Jimmy?”

Jimmy, a bright young wit, said, “Nope, not one single new.”

I’ve never forgotten it. News were living things reporters were duty bound to herd.

Today’s news has become like the great American bison. Too many hunters, not enough buffalo.

No where is that more obvious than the local TV news.

I still watch, of course, because seeing pretty people smile always soothes me. And after they get through the obligatory six minutes of mayhem, there’s nothing but smiles.

I like to imagine right after the five-day forecast recap, the whole happy gang skips back to some big bed behind the set to snuggle and snooze until it’s time to slap the make-up back on.

See what I did there? I put a titillating visual in your head.

And that, my friends, is the future of the news.

It will be vivid, it will be imaginative and it will hail from Taiwan.

It will be the aptly-named Next Media Animation.

I’ve been hooked ever since I saw Roger Ebert tweet about it last year.

It is the greatest news innovation since live television. They not only report the news, they recreate it and add cartoonish embellishments.

The bin Laden take down may have been the best ever. It showed brave SEAL Team 6 breaching the walls, mowing down the doomed defenders and finally the bloody coup de grace.

As all this is being shown in deliberately clunky animation, a narrator prattles on in Taiwanese. Beneath the action, subtitles scroll.

So as you read “The Americans treated the body with respect according to Muslim tradition,” you watch the SEALs from behind urinating all over the body.

I can see where some news directors might have trouble with this sort of artistic license, but I found it very compelling, especially when the 90-second clip took it even farther and depicted what happened next in Hell.

It was all so wildly profane, so sacrilegious, the station pulled it down after just 12 hours.

As this bold step may take time, I advise local broadcasters to pave the way by hiring thespians to act out the news.

This would be a huge ratings boost and viewers would immediately begin to bond with the cast.

Think of how much theatrical drama you could wring from a news segment that opened with, “A North Side woman shot a trespasser she saw peeking through her bedroom window.”

It could work with actors either playing it straight or, better still, really hamming it up. And it would be a great training ground for our next generation of actors. We’d see what it was like the exact moment the single mom realized she’d won the lottery, and the sin extravaganza of how the comely 8th grade teacher plied the boys with weed and liquor to satisfy her indecent lusts.

It’s possible the same actor could in one 30-minute broadcast die from multiple gunshot wounds, be stabbed to death in a neighbor dispute and get electrocuted stealing electricity.

It’d be an instant sensation.

Oh, how I hope I only live to see it.

It may be unethical. It may be tawdry. It may be a tad unrealistic.

But it sure would put at least a little new back in the news.

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