(en) Top 5 NEWSPEAK Stories of the Week #64 (fwd)

Wayne Grytting (wgrytt@animal.blarg.net)
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 21:33:07 -0800 (PST)

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AMERICAN NEWSPEAK is hoarded at http://www.scn.org/news/newspeak/ Written by Wayne Grytting

A New Spin on Campaign Donations

Are you critical of politicians who pander to special interests for a steady diet of campaign payoffs? Well, you could be suffering from elitism. At least that's what Sen Pat Roberts from Kansas believes. "What a condescending, elitist point of view," he argued on the floor of the Senate, "that we should be free of asking people for their trust and support, their investment in good government, their partnership in good faith..." Sobering words for unreflective elitists. But as you can see, the good senator was on a rhetorical roll. It culminates in this rather inspired reinterpretation of the "American way". Noting that we have a number of filters through which candidates must be sifted, Sen. Roberts asks, "Is a candidate's ability to attract campaign funds any less important to this process than his or her ability to attract votes?" In all fairness, maybe we should decide elections on the basis of both votes and fundraising. A little Constitutional amendment and we could give points for each as they do in figure skating for technical merit and artistic impression. Worth a try, Senator? (Cong. Record 3/12)

Sponsor-Friendly TV Programs

"Sabado Gigante", North and South America's most popular Spanish language variety show, has found a way to dramatically cut production costs. The 4 hour Saturday night entertainment spectacle let's its advertisers write its jingles and comedy skits, thus cutting out unnecessary middlemen. The producers of this trend setting "product placement fantasy" not only meet regularly with sponsors to come up with scripts, but they also give them final approval. Just like Congress. Such friendly treatment is now drawing major corporations like McDonald's, Sears, Mars Candy and AT&T. Says Steve Farley, a VP at Payless Drugs, "They have woven us into the program seamlessly and the people love it." During the show, host Mario Kreutzberger not only leads the audience in sing-alongs to advertising jingles but also participates in corporate written skits about their products featuring scantily clad female models. I'm sure this format has many questioning our "artificial" separation of TV programs and ads. (WSJ 3/25)

Report Card on Net Censorship

Ever wonder how all those Surfwatch type programs to protect our children on the Net are doing? A few recent studies have shown they are carrying out their duty and more. For example, a popular screening program called Cyber Patrol, not only protects our young from pornography, but from the poetry of Anne Sexton. And for reasons only a sophisticated computer program could fathom, it also blocks out references to Sri Lanka. Net Nanny performed not nearly as well, allowing Hustler Magazines' nature appreciation photos to come through. But it did successfully block out the following "erotic" discussion of needlework. Censored were the sentences " "Are there male parts to cross-stitch also, like I'd bother to waste my time!'' and "Where exactly would you hang this in your house once you stitched it???" '' The best performer was called Cybersitter. It successfully blocked references to ``homosexual,'' ``gay rights,'' ``NOW,'' `fascism,'' and ``drugs''.'' Best of all, it even blocked the site of a student activist group called "Peacefire" that's been critical of Cybersitter. (S.F. Chron. 3/27, AP 3/26)

CEO Clears Hurdle

A hurdle as important as the 4 minute mile was finally overcome in Corporate America when a CEO finally cracked the $100 million dollar compensation barrier in the non-Bill Gates division. This stunning achievement was attained by Lawrence Coss, head of Green Tree Financial, a firm that loans money for mobile homes. Mr. Coss was given a $102 million bonus because, said company spokesman John Dolphin, "The shareholders are delighted with Green Tree's performance... The only downside is you have to answer the media critics." (What a downer). Meanwhile only the Wall Street Journal reported on how Mr. Coss managed to delight his stockholders. Green Tree's profits came from low income senior citizens who pay inflated loan rates for their "manufactured homes" because of what the American Association of Retired Persons describes as a lack of lending competition. Mr. Coss had the "vision" to see this captive market. (WSJ 3/27, WP 3/28)

Shopping Mall TV Channels

Filling a glaring breach in the penetration of everyday life by TV is a company that will be bringing TV programming to our shopping mall food courts. The Food Court Entertainment Network has unleashed Cafe USA in 8 shopping malls on the East coast and will soon have 6 sites on the West coast. From TVs suspended above the tables, shoppers will be able to watch movie reviews, fashion news and commercials for "products that are for sale just yards away!" Surprisingly, shoppers initially showed resistance to the intrusion of TV. Moffat Walsh, director of a mall in Newark, Delaware, reported that early morning food customers complained the TVs "were disrupting their breakfast get-togethers." But now she sees them " watching the health tips featured in the programming." Gone is the unproductive community chit-chat unconnected to consumption. It's progress. (American Demographics 3/97)

AMERICAN NEWSPEAK even has a mailing list now at wgrytt@blarg.net. If you requested it last week, mail me again. A hacker destroyed mail on our system.

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