So, I watched a full week of “Anderson Cooper 360” last week, and have started again, thanks to TiVo. To say that I’m disappointed in the show is, perhaps, misleading. After the speech at KU last week, I was expecting, I don’t know, actual news. Instead, it’s a news-magazine thing that tends toward drawn-out, flashy popular news pieces. Which last week meant about four pieces on a child porn case in Florida and some Michael Jackson highlights, and today has meant a focus on the runaway bride thingy.
So, as a magazine-ish show goes, it’s entertaining in its own bizarre way. Tonight, it was entertaining not only because there’s some kind of Anderson Cooper fixation with Paula Abdul crying that was again featured during the news segment, but also because it was an absolute crowning jewel of mediocrity and bizarreness.
Let’s go to the transcript:
So, first there’s Anderson (may I call you Anderson?) interviewing the two police/security officers who escorted Jennifer Willbanks, the runaway Georgia bride, through the airport when she had the blanket/towel over her head. I mean, these are REAL NEWS MAKERS here. That interview was touching.
TRISH AHRENSFIELD: …really all I was telling her was, watch her step, because she had the blanket over her head. She — I didn’t want her to fall.
So I really was just saying, you know, watch your step, and you know, we’ll get you through…
COOPER: Was it her idea to put the blanket over her head, by the way? I’m always fascinated by what people decide to do when there are cameras around.
Oh, Anderson, me, too. For instance: some people will just interview anyone. Need another example? Next we have an interview with a woman who was left by her fiance with only a few days before their wedding. There’s a hard-hitting interview about what happened that follows. I’m not making up her name label — it’s the actual way the CNN transcript introduces her:
COOPER: So he says, “I can’t really do this right now.” Were you like, do what? I mean, did you get what he was saying right away?
MARILYN CHIVETTA, JILTED BRIDE IN 2003: No, no, of course not. We had been making out the night before, we went to a family dinner, him and I…
COOPER: Wait, I’m sorry, I don’t want to go into the gory details, but you had been making out the night before?
Apparently, Anderson’s strict, convent upbringing has left him stunned at the idea of engaged people having physical contact before the called-off wedding night. Or perhaps he is, as I am, surprised that she’s mentioned this on TV. Not as surprised as I am later when she throws confetti in the air — not kidding, this happened. Cue the confetti:
CHIVETTA: The message to people out there is exactly what I have on my shirt. I just finished writing a book that I want to publish and speaking that you’ve got to claim your cleavage, and live every day like it’s a celebration of yourself!
OK, good advice. But then we get the TMI:
CHIVETTA: It was like a death. It was a nightmare to my family, to my son, to myself. But I’ve learned how to claim my cleavage and go on. Look at Trump, he claims his cleavage all the time. Bad things happen.
COOPER: All right. I was — yes.
CHIVETTA: Sorry, maybe that’s a bad subject.
COOPER: I was unfamiliar with Trump’s cleavage, but I’m glad he claims it as well. Marilyn, I’m glad you’re doing well. And I’m glad, clearly, you’ve rebounded from this, and you’ve claimed a lot of things, as you said.
CHIVETTA: Claimed my cleavage. Thank you very much. And if you know any princes out there, send them my way. I’m sick of the frogs. Thank you so much.
Then, another fun interview with everyone’s favorite TV doctor, Sanjay “fresh from brain surgery at the CNN Center in Atlanta” Gupta. Paging Dr. Gupta…
GUPTA: Yes, there are warning signs of extreme stress. The problem, and you’re sort of alluding to, is they’re not much different than signs of ordinary stress. When you’re having extreme stress, things to look for specificly, headaches for example, sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, a short temper, upset stomach, low morale. All those things can also be signs of depression as well, Anderson, and that’s where it gets a little bit tricky. Again, we don’t know specifically what was going through her mind at the time, but stress can play a role in this sort of thing.
COOPER: Yes, I think, we’ve got like three out of seven of those.
So either the stress of being this ridiculous is getting him (and the frog in his pocket) down, or he has become, like me, a bit depressed over the unused potential on screen right now. Let’s move on.
COOPER: Are there medical conditions that can cause this kind of erratic behavior in otherwise normal people?
GUPTA: You know, it’s interesting that you is ask that. A lot of people looking at that picture that was on television for so long of Jennifer Wilbanks, sort noticed something about her. A lot of doctors made the comment as well, her eyes look a little interesting. And the reason I point that out, and this can be associated with a thyroid problem known as Grave’s Disease. Nobody is saying that she has this for sure. About half the people who have Grave’s Disease have eyes like this. But of all the people who have eyes like this, only about 10 percent them actually have Grave’s Disease.
I really hope MATH wasn’t integral to his getting a medical degree. Because… wah? At this point, Gupta started drawing on the picture of Jennifer Wilbanks like commentators do during football season. It was about the most bizarre thing I’ve seen on television in a while — so maybe I should watch more TV.
That really wraps it up, all except for the bizarre momentary Cher imitation that Anderson had during the newsbreak — “Chastity!” — which of course brings up this question: If you have a news show, and you have to break twice to get news headlines, are you really a news show anymore? I think not.
And now I have two interesting things to point to out of the New York Times, i.e. “real news HQ”:
1). “Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases.” Anyone want to engage me in a discussion of this article? Because I have a variety of reactions to it.
2). “The Lost Continent of The Atlantic,” which is an opinion piece (by Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club) about The Atlantic Monthly moving from its HQ in Boston to Washington, D.C. The interesting part to me was this:
While there are American authors today who identify themselves regionally, that is often an individualistic and even idiosyncratic sign, not one of larger geographic-literary claims. These days, groups of writers and thinkers brought into regular personal contact with one another do so not usually from deep cultural ties but because of geographical happenstance (and, often, generous stipends from university writing programs).
This isn’t all bad: shaking up the link between upbringing, education and publishing opportunities lessens the risk of creative homogeneity and the sort of literary protectionism that obstructed Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century. But that also implies the unlikelihood of literary community.
That’s a really interesting idea.
Oh, wait, one more thing. If anyone wants to move to Laguna Beach and live in a trailer on the beach with me, it seems our chances for $470 rent is running out: “Trailer-Park Dwellers Fight Eviction From Paradise.”