Thank heavens for ESPN

By Lawrence Henry
web posted July 19, 1999

"There goes three days of television," said the clerk at the garden store this morning - this morning, Saturday, July 17. He was speaking, of course, of the disappearance of the small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr., and of the inevitable result.

Back from the garden store, I turned on the television, intending to watch the British Open golf tournament. I found myself looking at a local ABC affiliate reporter, delivering "the latest on the tragic disappearance," etc., etc. This was no mere news update. This was the full-court press of fascist emotion slime TV: "the gathering of the Kennedy clan for what was to be a joyous occasion..." "...reputation as something of a daredevil..." "...handsome bearer of the legacy of his slain father..." And all the rest. Non-stop.

I switched channels. All three major networks were doing the same thing. Hoping at least for some news of the golf tournament, I turned to ESPN, where the Open had been aired on Thursday and Friday. I got lucky. At that moment, at the behest of ABC, ESPN took over the golf broadcast.

It begs the question at times like this to ask, "Who cares?" Preeminently, TV cares. "I am television; thou shalt have no other gods before me." And, if TV cares, some millions of American others care, too: mouth-breathing wet brains who will obey the call to "tragic" worship on the ion altar.

There are subsidiary gods and goddesses, of course; JFK, Jr. is one of them. You can see the rest any day of the week on supermarket tabloid covers: Rosie, Shania, Bruce and Demi, Jerry Springer, Jacko, And, just as in ancient Greece or Rome, there are cults: dead child (JonBenet Ramsay); neurotic princess (Di); Jacobin class revenge (Louise Woodward); dark villain (O.J.), and so on.

And it begs the question, too, to ask, "Who was JFK, Jr., and why all the fuss?" Just as it's pointless to answer that Mr. Kennedy was merely a rich young man of no particular accomplishments, with a famous father, whose funeral and postmortem obeisances became the god Television's first major orgy. Because the fuss is its own justification; that's what paganism is.

In that spirit, I write the following headlines. Envision them on the front page of a paper called something like, oh, "The Pagan Enquirer."

"Hera fumes as Zeus dallies with sprightly nymph. 'Disguised himself as bull!' rages the ox-eyed goddess."

"Hephaistos: Vows revenge for sister."

"Golden Apple lost! Olympus in uproar."

"Daredevil flyer falls to earth. Father Daedelus mourns."

"Agamemnon's curse: Foretold in Delphic prophesy?"

Now excuse me. I'm going to go watch some golf. I do hope Mr. Kennedy, his wife, and his sister-in-law are found, alive and well. It is not their fault that a bankrupt nation worships them.

Lawrence Henry is a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right and a subscriber to the Pagan Enquirer.

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