A Bright Future for Pessimists

Article by Jim Goad.


It’s said that no news is good news, but the problem is that there’s plenty of news, and all of it’s awful.

I scanned my memory banks to try and remember the last time I heard a news story that pleased me or gave me hope for the future.

I drew blanks.

It’s not that there aren’t problems with the way the news is being reported, because there are multiple problems with that. Like a greasy slop-pile of Waffle House hash browns, nearly every coronary-inducing scrap of news fed to us from the corporate media is scattered, smothered, covered, capped, chopped, chunked, and diced to suit the owner’s ideological agenda and to please the advertisers.

But the big problem is with the news itself. It makes you not only want to kill the messenger, but also yourself.

I heard the news today, oh boy. There are no profanities up to the task of describing what has happened to the world around me.

To cop a fave term of the progs, our financial and cultural situations have metastasized into something “unsustainable.”

Due to the US credit rating being downgraded late on Friday, expect the financial markets to make a loud crashing sound when they open today. America is bleeding, the world smells blood, and things will only get worse. If you think otherwise, I think you’re probably the sort of person who looks up before crossing a busy street.

“These days, optimism is the sole domain of liars and morons.”

And culturally, it’s not like we’re not on the same page anymore—we aren’t even in the same library. The feds should issue a Travel Advisory Warning for all Americans to leave the USA immediately. And the process seems to be accelerating, like speeded-up time-lapse photography of a decaying corpse. Roving black mobs indiscriminately kick in white skulls at the Wisconsin State Fair, and gun-toting homies spray bullets into a North Philly bus. Canada is starting to get a bitter taste of American-style diversity. And London’s burning.

These days, optimism is the sole domain of liars and morons. To think it’s “all good” is to get it “all wrong.” In pragmatic terms, Americans would have been wiser if they’d elected a president who’d campaigned on a platform of hopelessness rather than hope.

Will someone—anyone—please blow my head clean off my spine with some good news?

I searched the phrase “good news” on Google News. It didn’t help. Much of the “good news” consisted of trifling puff pieces about entertainers, athletes, and techno-gizmos. American Idol runner-up and mascara-smeared butt-dumpling Adam Lambert is sharing the “good news” with the world that he’s in love. Two members of the Carolina Panthers broke into fisticuffs at their training camp, and a blogger somehow believes this is “good news” for the team. And a cutesy fake hand welded onto the new iPhone that enables you to “hold hands” with the device is deemed by a headline writer to be not only good news—it’s great news!

This is all more than depressing.

What’s worse, my “good news” search led to headlines that are merely false positives: “No Good News,” “Good jobs news is simply a mirage,” “Good News That Is Really Not So Good,” and “Good news: A [nuclear] meltdown would kill fewer than we thought.”

Taking it up a notch and searching for the phrase “great news” led to some headlines that were outright facetious: “Great news: Service industry now slowing down, too” and “Great news: Downgrade could come as soon as Friday.”

Searching for terms such as “hopeful” and “optimistic” only led to more false positives: “So Hopeful in April, So Glum in August” and “Fugitive’s fiance [sic] isn’t optimistic about how things will turn out.”

These were the only “good news” headlines I found that weren’t ironic or misleading: “Senate Says Good News Coming Soon for Undocumented Students” and “American Muslims hopeful about life in the U.S.

OK, that’s definitely not helping me feel better.

Decades ago, I remember hearing of some newspaper that was founded on the premise that they’d only print good news—no murder, rape, robbery, or corruption stories. The paper quickly folded. The “Nuttin’ But Good News” premise has continued on the Internet on sites so incurably positive, you want to vomit rainbows—sites featuring stories about three-legged tortoises who amble about on a roller wheel and cable guys saving boys from drowning—even an “ALL GOOD NEWS ALL THE TIME” site that’s still waiting for something good to happen. A “good news” search also leads to several sites about the Gospel, which may or may not be good but hardly qualifies as news.

In practical terms, good news is bad for the news business—no one wants to read that your house didn’t burn down and that another day passed without you getting stabbed.

So it’s not even that I need to see good news so much as I think it’d be good to see certain types of bad news reported honestly for once.

Although I’m not optimistic, I’d like to see America’s journalistic climate re-jiggered in a way that eliminates all double standards in how news is reported. A climate where reporters don’t get fired or silenced for not marching in lockstep with the unyielding dictates of current prejudices. Where they realize there’s a constitutional right to free association but no right not to get offended. Where writers actually questioned authority and did investigative reporting again rather than endlessly rewording press releases. Where writers who claim to speak for the working class actually came from the working class.

I close my eyes and visualize some headlines I’d like to see:

“Government Overhauls Welfare: Support for Dependent Children to Be Strictly Based on a Sliding Scale Directly Correlating With the Parents’ IQ”

“African-Americans Have it Better in America Than in Africa”

“Violent Flash Mob Swarms Southern Poverty Law Center Fundraising Picnic”

“Memorial to White Indentured Servants Unveiled in Washington, DC”

“Memorial to Communism’s Victims Constructed Alongside Holocaust Museum”

“Serial Killer Preys on Top Bankers”

“Top Education Official Says, ‘Let’s Leave the Dumb Ones Behind’”

“Social Scientists Finally Admit They Aren’t Scientists at All”

Good news? These days, a man can only imagine.

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