June 22, 2009
I watched the movie Armageddon on TV the other night and I cried twice. I hadn’t seen the movie Armageddon since it came out and didn’t have much of a desire to ever see it again, even though I’ve seen one of Michael Bay’s other movies, The Rock, about ten times and will almost always turn to it when it’s airing on cable, which is almost always. There was nothing on TV the other night, though, not The Rock or even something starring the Rock. My dad and I had been watching Olbermann for lack of anything else but we weren’t even really watching it, it was just “on,” and Olbermann was ranting about the bitchy e-mails of some congressional staffer and boring me and so I flipped over to Armageddon, since I figured if there wasn’t something exploding when I landed on Armageddon, something would probably explode within about thirty seconds or so after that and I wanted to see something explode. I was that kind of bored the other night, the kind of bored where you want to see things explode. The first time I saw the movie Armageddon, I saw it in a movie theater, which is of course because of technical reasons the best place to see things explode, the loudness of the speakers and the largeness of the screen more realistically representing what an explosion feels like than the average television set, or at least I assume so, having never actually felt an actual explosion in real life myself. I only expected to watch Armageddon for a couple of minutes before changing the channel back to the live feed of the news of the world, but instead I stayed on the channel the whole time until the movie ended and I cried, twice.
The first part of the movie Armageddon that made me cry is the part that’s supposed to make you cry, that is calibrated with ball bearings and string sections and focus groups to make you cry, which is the part when Bruce Willis’s character heroically sacrifices himself to save not only his son-in-law-to-be and the rest of the ragtag band of outsiders who he calls friends but the whole human race, really, the part when he stays on the runaway asteroid about to collide with the Earth in order to deliver a lengthy and maudlin monologue via satellite to his daughter Liv Tyler and then trigger the nuclear device which will destroy the asteroid and save humanity and allow the triumphant Aerosmith song to be played. The first time I cried was at some point during the lengthy and maudlin monologue delivered via satellite to Liv Tyler, which, again, I would be worried about myself if I didn’t cry then, since not crying in the face of such a masterful onslaught of mise-en-scène would mean that there was something wrong with my nervous system or tear ducts, like if a doctor hit your knee with that little hammer and you didn’t kick.
The second part of the movie Armageddon that made me cry, the part that really did it, was the part just after Bruce Willis triggers the nuclear device that destroys the asteroid and saves humanity. When the nuclear device explodes, we first see it from space, this massive and perfectly geometric shock wave of blue light blooming out across the black screen in a slow motion, low frequency whoosh, so beautiful, a sublime image of destruction. After this explosion, there’s a triumphant montage of crowds of people in locations all around the world witnessing the explosion and cheering on this explosion in the heavens that just in the nick of time has saved them and the rest of humanity from doom. At the Taj Mahal, thousands of people see the light screaming across the sky and they jump up from the ground and cheer, all of them in perfect sync like in a Bollywood musical directed by Leni Riefenstahl. In some vague Eastern European setting, a bearded man in an ancient doorway smiles up at the stratosphere as he explains to the adorably disheveled children around him what’s happened and how they’re all safe now, how it’s going to be okay. Fresh-faced boys in tiny suits in a nondescript British or Irish glen point towards the clouds, excited; children in a sepia-toned rural America coast through dusty streets in pushcars painted like space shuttles while crowds of folks in their Sunday best stream out of a small church into the sunlight, smiling. One of the last shots in the montage is of a mosque in Turkey, where, as the camera slowly and reverently pushes inside, we see a great mass of worshipers cheering up through the open roof of their courtyard as the orchestral score peaks all around them. I watched this montage, this incredibly manipulative and cheap and propangandistic montage, and I cried.
I cried, I think, because the montage reminded me of the pictures and videos of the people in Iran that we keep seeing on the Internet, the grainy, blurred photos and low resolution cell phone videos of the big crowds marching through the streets and fighting, the protesters wearing green ribbons and black scarves and red blood, all of them marching in crowds to face their enemies and win the battle. I’ve wanted to feel something when I watched the videos or saw the pictures on the Internet but I haven’t felt anything yet — I’ve been waiting for a feeling to come, hoping for one. When I saw Armageddon on TV, I felt something from it and cried and as I felt something and cried, I thought of the thing on the Internet, it reminded me of them, the resonance between the images, the shared aspects and characteristics. Now, when I see the videos online, when I see the new images of pitched battles in the street that seem to stream in fresh every minute, I don’t think of their burgeoning revolution and I don’t think of a biblical Armageddon, I think of The Matrix: Revolutions and I think of Armageddon; I think of Independence Day, I think of War of the Worlds, the crowds of people in those movies who may not seem to share many things in common but are united by the spectacle, by the watching and the looking and the viewing. After crying twice at Armageddon, to kind of come down from such an intense experience, I watched an episode of the celebrity-biography-product-placement television series Iconoclasts starring actor/activist Sean Penn and narrative nonfiction-ist Jon Krakauer. In one part of the episode, Sean Penn, between moments of looking scruffy and moments of looking pensive and moments of looking scruffy and pensive, described the horrors of a trip he had taken to Iraq and the things he had seen there. He said, “If you saw the movie War of The Worlds with Tom Cruise, that’s literally what the children of Iraq have faced in the cities, is that they’ve actually seen the alien beasts coming in from the skies and killing them.” In an interview from the same year with the website fxguide.com, Michael Bay, the director of Armageddon, discussed the realistic quality of movies today:
fxg: In general, are movies as good as they used to be?
MB:Things are more real now, more photo real. Look at the 70s and the 80s. Visual effects opened up a whole new world. Maybe there’s over-saturation. We’ve almost seen everything. In the 70s, Steven Spielberg invented dinosaurs. Now he’s hitting me in the leg. Why? Because he’s never seen robots doing that before. It’s hard to tell a fresh story now.
Of course, when Sean Penn is saying that life in Iraq is “literally” like the movie War of The Worlds with Tom Cruise, he doesn’t mean “literally,” and when Michael Bay is talking about our movies being “more real now, more photo real,” he’s talking about movies in which giant anthropomorphic robot cars battle with other giant anthropomorphic robot cars and interact with footage of real human actors that is shot against blue screens and composited into carefully production designed digital war zones that are texture mapped with high resolution photographs of real locations, the filmed explosions and the virtual explosions all around them blending in the frame, the real filmed footage of dirt and fire and water mixing with computer particle simulations of the same. That “real” that Michael Bay is talking about is only real in appearance and in the emotion we feel when we watch it, real in the sense of a more perfect illusion; not “real” but realistic. This sensibility has seeped into the “real” world that we live in today, though, and not just for Spicoli and the director of Bad Boys. There were breathless reports last week which spread like virtual wildfire from Twitter to major bloggers and some news organizations that there were three million protesters in the streets of Tehran after the election — it now seems that figure was unrealistic and it’s more likely that the crowd numbered in the hundreds of thousands, which is still of course a significant number but not the same. Maybe that’s propaganda but maybe it’s just the hyperbole wrought by Michael Bay and Peter Jackson and the Wachowski brothers, the hyperbole of computer generated special effects, since when the digital crowds in our popular movies can and so often do number in the millions, masses of reproduced people which swell to fill ever wider and bigger screens, it makes us believe that they can in real life, too. This is the art of war in the age of Transformers.
One might say that all of this stuff about aesthetics is beside the point, that to talk about stupid Hollywood action movies now, at a time when oppressed people are really dying for good and important things that they believe in, is callous and unfeeling and wrong. I feel weird responding to that imaginary criticism that I’m throwing at myself as a rhetorical device because I do think there’s some truth to it and I feel uncomfortable saying these kinds of things and feeling these things while real people my own age die in the streets of their broken country bravely standing up for ideals and principles and beliefs, while they die in ways which maybe aren’t so complicated and maybe don’t need to be deconstructed by bourgeois assholes like me. I feel uncomfortable about it but this thing I’m saying and doing here is all I know to say and do about “the situation” and this is what we as the wired Western middle class are supposed to do to end tyranny and support freedom, right? This is what we’ve been told, that we’re supposed to express ourselves on our blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, we’re supposed to “try to understand the situation” and “participate in this moment” and “create a dialogue.” I don’t really know how to do that, though, I’m not much of a follower (I’m not even on Twitter) but I’m also not Edward R. Murrow or Ghandi or Biz Stone, I’m not a revolutionary like any of them and I don’t have any fantasy of being one; I’m just a person who watches things and thinks about them too much.
When I was in college, I went to see a screening of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised with one of my roommates, a Colombian-American guy with a well-worn Che Guevara t-shirt. I’m not a very political person myself — the closest I got to activism in college was getting wasted at a Howard Dean benefit — but I thought the movie sounded interesting and it was free, so why not? As I watched it, I was surprised by how moving it was, how powerful, the feelings that it gave me that I hadn’t been getting elsewhere. After the movie ended, as we left the theater in the dark, I had that dark theater feeling that you have sometimes after watching a movie that moves you, that inexpressible something that makes you feel changed and different, the weight of the images assumed into your body. When we stepped into the lobby, my roommate ran into some friends of his, a small group of South Americans or South American-Americans who I didn’t know that well but who I had seen around at parties and maybe done shots with or something, shared in the communion of bad music and warm beer and Doritos. My roommate talked to them in Spanish for a minute and I stood there all awkward white guy with his hands in his pocket and then we left them there. In the parking lot on the way to the car, my roommate explained to me that they were protesting the movie, that they disagreed with its heroic portrayal of Chavez, that they thought it was one-sided, that it wasn’t telling the whole truth. We drove home in silence and the feeling that I was having then was also inexpressible and powerful but it wasn’t the good feeling I had had before, the triumphant feeling, it was something different, something worse. I felt that I couldn’t have any real opinion of what was true or not, who was right or wrong, because I had to admit to myself that honestly all I really knew about this whole country Venezuela and all of its people and history was contained in this two hour documentary I had just seen minutes before, this documentary with images which convinced me of this one thing that I thought was the truth, that made me feel this way that felt good and true and right, but then there were these good people here saying another thing entirely, these living breathing people from my own area code who said that the images I saw were lies, and what should I believe, what could I, how could I? It was the feeling of not knowing how to feel, of not being sure anymore, faithless.
I want to know how to feel now, I want to be sure, I don’t want to be conflicted. I don’t want the empty faithless feeling, I want the full feeling that I see other people my age having, the full feeling that makes them change their social media accounts to Tehran time to “interfere with the government” and makes them change their profile pictures to images of hands wrapped in green ribbon, that inspires all of this passive resistance from them, maybe emphasis on the “passive” and not the resistance but I want that feeling that they have and I don’t want to be cynical about it and make stupid jokes about passive resistance and so I look at the videos on Youtube and I read the messages on Twitter, because that’s what I’m supposed to do, that’s what I’ve been told is the way to participate, to read the messages dedicated to tomorrow’s children and watch the videos being uploaded from the streets, see the truth in them. You see the truth by watching the videos, people say on their blogs, there are thousands of the videos posted every day to Youtube and people tweet and retweet them, blog and reblog, spreading their truth like viruses. Nico Pitney, whose Huffington Post blog is one of the most popular aggregators of information about what’s “happening” in Iran, recently posted a Youtube video from a young Iranian-American documentarian:
“10:54 AM ET — Rage against the machine. An Iranian-American writes: “In my spare time, I make short documentaries and music videos, and my 22 year old cousin in Iran asked that I make a video for him with his favorite song. I just spoke with him and he told me that his friends and him are watching it before they go out to protest. He was stepping out the door to protest when I spoke with him just a few minutes ago. A lot of Iranians from Iran rely on huffingtonpost.com for their information. If you could somehow post this on your website and get this out to the youth in Iran, it would mean a lot.”
I don’t know how to feel about this. The most prominent features of the video, besides the blaring soundtrack, are the two digital effects that are kneaded through the already familiar compilation of videos and pictures of the uprising, the two effects, the flickering fake film grain and the jittery camera shake, this digital patina of faux-authenticity added to the videos after the fact by their editor, as if the footage he had pulled down off of Youtube wasn’t enough, as if the images had to be made more mythic, more powerful, more more more. It’s both touching and frightening, this Rage Against The Machine video, it’s like it’s made in the belief that the Velvet Revolution was really all based on some songs by Lou Reed and John Cale, that power chords can be as strong as battering rams. You imagine this guy in his bedroom trying to make this thing that his cousin has asked him for, a talisman to inspire this person he loves and make him strong and keep him safe, and the only way that he knows to do that is through the conventions of popular music videos, through this artifice and stylization, the only thing that he knows to do is make a Rage Against The Machine video on Youtube, make the best Rage Against The Machine video on Youtube, a video that his cousin and his friends can watch full screen with speakers cranked before rushing out to the barricades and fighting the Basji, a video that will protect them like armor. Here it is, the aesthetics of Hollywood warfare not only used to describe the uprising but also to inspire it, to nurture it, to get the young fighters pumped up before they rush into the streets to do battle, Mortal Kombat before mortal combat. The technique used in the Rage Against The Machine video is the same technique Michael Bay used in Armageddon, in the montage that made me cry the second time. Michael Bay, in that montage, appropriated a “vérité” photographic image from Robert Frank’s famous photo book The Americans but instead of using it as is, he changed it, he recast it, reshot it, colorized it, animated it, soundtracked it, added all of this extra artifice to make it more real than the real, a shot that you couldn’t be ambivalent about, a shot that would make you feel the way you were supposed to feel and no other way, none.
I want to know how to feel so I watch the videos and read the discussions, the reblogs and the retweets. There’s been a lot of discussion through the Twitter tag #CNNFail about the failure, in the eyes of bloggers and Twitterers, of cable news to adequately cover the uprising, people complaining how this revolution was not being televised. I think these protesters (the American, virtual protesters, not the real Iranians bleeding in their streets) are wrong, though, or at least misguided, hopped up on the buzz of their technology and distracted from the facts. The outraged criticisms that they made through #CNNFail are based in morality but it seems to me that this is really a formal concern, this has to do with aesthetics — this revolution is not being televised because it’s not televisual. How do you make round the clock television coverage of an event when you can’t generate any video or images of it, when you can’t go out into the streets to get soundbites, when your satellite trucks aren’t able to run and your internet connection is crippled by the government or by popular overuse, when your correspondents are expelled or arrested or live in fear of being expelled and arrested or something worse? When all the footage you have is poor quality, provenance unknown, truth not guaranteed? When you have to append caveats and qualifiers to everything you say and show, since you have no idea what it really means or even what it is? How do you do create quality American television of the standards we the people and our advertisers expect in such an environment? Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan posted what he called “The Most Staggering Footage Yet,” a video of a crowd of protesters pushing back police in the streets, a cell phone video that’s lower resolution than Youtube, a video in which you have to literally squint to even make out what’s going on. How do you create quality American television if no one’s going to watch it? The video that you watch and read about today is the video of Neda, Neda, everyone is talking about her, Neda, we give her a single name as if we know her just because we saw a video of her dying (a video of her dying) and read her Wikipedia page, but the video seems too graphic to be shown on broadcast television (CNN ran a blurred out version today, the NBC Nightly News froze the frame as she started to bleed and turned the image to black and white) and even if it weren’t, what could the networks do to fill all their airtime, show their clip over and over again the way you refresh your browser window? No, they couldn’t, it’s not television, it’s an Internet video, it operates in different ways, and this is going to sound callous and heartless and just awful but the way people are talking about watching the Neda video and how hard it is to watch and how it stays with you even when you don’t want it to…it reminds me of how people talked about “Two Girls, One Cup,” another popular internet video, another “iconic image” that was “so hard to watch.” I know, just hate me for having this stupid, ugly, dirty thought, I hate myself for it. I don’t know how to feel. The video of Neda has 120,000 hits on Youtube and the video of Susan Boyle on America’s Got Talent has almost 69 million. What if the revolution is televised and it gets horrible ratings, what then? I watch the Neda video and I can understand how and why it’s sad but I don’t feel sad when I see it, I don’t feel anything, yet I’m still scared of The Sixth Sense, the scenes with the dead children, I never turn to that when it’s on cable, I can’t watch it, and Armageddon made me cry twice.
In a recent New York Times Magazine column entitled “Lights! Camera! Inaction!” Virginia Heffernan criticized contemporary American film and television for failing to represent the experience of technology in modern life, for not showing how completely woven computers and the Internet are through our everyday existence. In this light, I wonder what the best movie of this Iranian uprising would look like, the most true film? I don’t think it could be a Michael Bay production — it’s too foreign, there aren’t enough big set pieces, what role could Steve Buscemi play? If I imagine the movie, I think part of it would involve Andrew Sullivan sitting in a captain’s chair in the middle of this gleaming white control room like in The Matri and reading aloud the poems and quotations he posts in between Twitter updates, the words of Merton and Auden and Twain and the Sufi mystics, bellowing these poems in his clipped British accent like they’re incantations, spells, the magic of language, the wonder and dread. This footage of him, pristine wide-screen well lit HD stuff, would be intercut with all the cell phone videos we’re seeing of what it’s like there on the ground, videos randomly selected from Youtube and presented chopped into achronological fragments with little or no context given. The videos would be in Farsi, of course, and subtitled in English, but the images and subtitles wouldn’t be all we’d be seeing on the screen, since also there would be a constant snowstorm of messages in both English and Farsi, tweets and IMs, their green text fading in and then fading out all over the picture plane — think some blend of mid-sixties Godard and It’s On With Alexa Chung. The opacity of the images would be automated on a variable determined by how much they had been linked to and passed around — the videos that had been reblogged more would be clearer and easier to see and the other, less popular truths would blend into them, creating blurry palimpsests in which clear shapes are difficult to discern.
That doesn’t work, though, obviously, that’s not the kind of movie people will eat popcorn to and rent from Netflix or Blockbuster — I don’t think Ebert would give it the thumbs up. The Iranian uprising is a movie in the first person plural, which is to say that it’s not a movie at all, that it appears now that it can’t adequately be rendered with the forms and conventions that we have available to us — its poetics are problematic, it’s too polyphonic, there are so many voices and so much information that our artifice can’t support it, our structures strain to hold it all together and then collapse. There is the sense that the revolution can’t be televised or filmed, that the narrative forms we have are inadequate to represent all of the stuff that’s coming in. Everybody who’s actively following the Iranian uprising is gripped in this hysteria of realism — not the real but the realism, the composite real, thousands of images and videos and descriptions of the real that are uploaded every day from thousands of discrete and anonymous sources and blended together in a soup of data which is fed to you from your chosen source by RSS. A month after September 11th, James Wood wrote an essay in the Guardian called “Tell me how does it feel?”:
But this idea – that the novelist’s task is to go on to the street and figure out social reality – may well have been altered by the events of September 11, merely through the reminder that whatever the novel gets up to, the “culture” can always get up to something bigger. Ashes defeat garlands. If topicality, relevance, reportage, social comment, preachy presentism, and sidewalk-smarts – in short, the contemporary American novel in its current, triumphalist form – are novelists’ chosen sport, then they will sooner or later be outrun by their own streaking material. Fiction may well be, as Stendhal wrote, a mirror carried down the middle of a road; but the Stendhalian mirror would explode with reflections were it now being walked around Manhattan.
For who would dare to be knowledgeable about politics and society now? Is it possible to imagine Don DeLillo today writing his novel Mao II – a novel that proposed the foolish notion that the terrorist now does what the novelist used to do, that is, “alter the inner life of the culture”? Surely, for a while, novelists will be leery of setting themselves up as analysts of society, while society bucks and charges so helplessly. Surely they will tread carefully over their generalisations. It is now very easy to look very dated very fast.
Are the forms now broken, can we no longer represent everything because there’s just too much of it, because we can’t write fast enough to not be dated? I don’t know how to feel about anything but I don’t trust James Wood to tell me how, I do know that, thank God, I can be sure of some things, it’s a small comfort. In his essay, James Wood made several bitchy comments about Don DeLillo’s Mao II, a novel which describes, among other things, an American woman watching live television footage of the streets of Tehran in the wake of the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini, his supporters filling the screen in a cloud of grief. “The future belongs to crowds,” the most famous line in Mao II, comes at the end of the introductory section, after a sublime and breathless description of a mass Moonie wedding in a baseball stadium. When DeLillo wrote that line in 1989 about the future and the crowds, it was a warning, a poetic call to alarm in the time of the fatwah against Salman Rushdie. It was crystallized fear and loathing about the awesome and terrifying power of mass crowds amplified by mass media, kind of like the way Kierkegaard, also thinking of the crowds and the media, said in 1847,
The crowd is untruth. And I could weep, in every case I can learn to long for the eternal, whenever I think about our age’s misery, even compared with the ancient world’s greatest misery, in that the daily press and anonymity make our age even more insane with help from “the public,” which is really an abstraction, which makes a claim to be the court of last resort in relation to “the truth”; for assemblies which make this claim surely do not take place. That an anonymous person, with help from the press, day in and day out can speak however he pleases (even with respect to the intellectual, the ethical, the religious), things which he perhaps did not in the least have the courage to say personally in a particular situation; every time he opens up his gullet – one cannot call it a mouth – he can all at once address himself to thousands upon thousands; he can get ten thousand times ten thousand to repeat after him – and no one has to answer for it; in ancient times the relatively unrepentant crowd was the almighty, but now there is the absolutely unrepentant thing: No One, an anonymous person: the Author, an anonymous person: the Public, sometimes even anonymous subscribers, therefore: No One. No One!
Now, holding all of that stuff in your mind, opening the text and ideas into the different tabs of your mental browser, now juxtapose it with this fragment of Andrew Sullivan’s ecstatic essay about Twitter in the Sunday Times yesterday:
When you review the Twitter stream of the past week, it reads like a stream of constantly shifting consciousness. It is a kind of journalistic pointillism. From a distance it gains heft. It is history rendered in the collective, scattered mind and it has never happened before – millions upon millions of tiny telegram messages sent to the world.
I don’t know how to feel, there’s just too much to deal with, all I can do now is copy and paste these fragments, I don’t have my own words to describe things. Andrew Sullivan, from his essay: “I felt last week more like a DJ than a journalist, compiling and sampling and remixing the sounds, sights, events and words streaming out of an ever-shifting drama.” On his blog, he’s frequently used the terms “money quote” and “money shot” to describe the best words and videos he has for describing things, a usage Wikipedia tells me derives from the vocabulary of Hollywood cinema, from the big, powerful scenes in big, powerful movies like Armageddon. I don’t know how to feel. How can I be expected come to a conclusion about an event which has no narrative structure? That’s not fair, I don’t know how to feel, I can’t conclude, okay, I can’t, but I want to, the desire doesn’t go away. If the forms are broken, can we hold them together with duct tape? I need the forms, I need the conventions, we need them, how else can meaning be made? They’re the only things I know how to believe in, these things, please don’t take them away from me, don’t say they’re archaic or obsolete or no longer necessary, don’t say that they’re broken. The word “iconoclast” doesn’t, in fact, come from an overly reverential Sundance Channel TV show sponsored by Grey Goose and starring Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer but is actually a term which dates to antiquity, to the time of the Byzantine Empire, when images of Christ and the Theotokos and certain saints, if created in a certain form in line with certain artistic conventions, were believed to have magical powers of healing and defense and communion. Iconoclasm, the destruction of these images, began in the Eighth Century AD. From a book about this period, one in paper and ink that I’m holding in my hand:
[Emperor] Leo III seems to have believed that God was displeased with the Byzantines on account of some misdemeanor. It was widely held at the time that Muslims were Christian heretics, worshiping the same God but in an incorrect way. Since Muslims had chosen to eschew images in their mosques, and were extraordinarily successful in battle, it was thought that God might be punishing the Byzantines for misusing religious images and falling into idolatry. The solution appeared simple: to ban the use of religious images in Byzantium and hope for divine approval, which would become apparent through political and military success.
In other words, maybe these iconoclasts, who we think of as image breakers, were really just getting rid of images they thought were already broken, that didn’t have any power anymore, the way that Andrew Sullivan writes on his blog that television is no longer necessary. “Who needs it?” he writes, posting another Youtube video. The initial period of iconoclasm actually wasn’t permanent, it was just a trend that was overruled by decree, bringing back the icons. A few years later, iconoclasm came back into vogue and a few years later it was stopped again, the holy images created and destroyed and recreated and destroyed again as they fell in and out of favor. In other words, just because right now we feel one way about our images and our forms doesn’t mean we won’t feel another way about them tomorrow, doesn’t mean we won’t miss them when they’re gone and want to bring them back from the dead, doesn’t mean they’re not important past, present, and future, whatever the opinion of the crowds today.
I don’t know how to feel. At one point while I was writing all of this confused and hysterical stuff, I turned on the TV as a distraction from myself. I just wanted something inoffensive and quiet on in the background, some white noise to fill the room. I was in the middle of typing a sentence on my laptop when I heard the announcer say, “What happens when you tell people they can’t see something? Exactly, they want to see it even more.” I looked up and saw the source of the voice, a blond woman in a red dress who was talking about censorship and intellectual freedom. The TV wasn’t on CNN or MSNBC or FOX, though, it wasn’t the news, and the announcer wasn’t talking about Tehran, the media blackout, or the information war, she wasn’t talking about any of those things, no, actually it was an introduction to the music video for “Baby Got Back” on a VH1 Classic marathon of The 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders. I don’t know how to feel.