Friday, July 17, 2009

Leo Shanahan and celebrating a moon landing that never happened

(Above: Capricorn One).

No neo Michael neo Costa today in The Australian, and so loon pond feels peculiarly empty and forlorn. Can't understand how I made it through the day without some ritual bashing of unions and the federal Labor party and Chairman Rudd.

What to do? Well there's always The Punch, which lately seems to have taken to afternoon updates. Reading it is somehow like watching a slow motion crashing and clashing of loons, worthy of the absent Costa.

Springboarding off the NASA release of newly compiled footage of the Apollo 11 Mission - complete with YouTube video and links to NASA - he asks whether his dear readers had ever, in NASA fashion, taped over videos or otherwise erased precious things.

At the time of writing, he'd copped five comments, including these handsome offerings:

DJG says:
The most uncelebrated event in American history. Why? It never happened, thats why.
TimsonM says:
They haven’t been there, that is why they “lost” the originals.
Winsor Dobbin says:
The whole moon landing thing is a charade that simply became too big a lie for the Americans to turn back on their invention. Remember this was the time of the Cold War when the Americans would do anything to get one over on the Russians, If it was really that easy to have man walk on the moon 40 years ago, wouldn’t there have been thousands of subsequent expeditions, landings, even attempts to stay up there?

Now by my feeble maths that makes sixty per cent of his commenting readership barking mad loons. Count me in, and he's up to sixty six per cent.

But it did remind me of Capricorn One, an old Sir Lew Grade romp which thanks to the vicissitudes of his company seems to have fallen into the public domain and anyhow for this moment is available on Google video in its full bloatware two hour plus version (you can see it here).

Directed by Peter Hyams, the thinking person's Michael Bay, it features a classy cast, including Elliott Gould, that successful bed post impersonator James Brolin, hoarse voiced Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterston before he settled into a career doing vacuous noddies on television, O. J. Simpson before he got away with it, and Hal Halbrook doing yet another sinister turn as the ever so smooth baddie. 

It even features special appearances by wild eyed Karen Black and the bald headed lolly pop sucking Telly Savalas long before neo con Michael Costa stole his thunder by doing imitations. Jerry Goldsmith contributes a thumping score, and it's a high concept version of a really dumb conspiracy theory before you could find a decepticon in the house.

It's all about how the Americans never made it to Mars, but instead faked it by building a set in the studio and beaming the signals out to an unsuspecting, duped world. It's only an anomaly - much like those anomalies in the moon TV footage - that gets the conspiracy theorists going and solves the fake landing, to the peril of the astronauts involved.

I guess it says something about the show that you can see it free on the intertubes - it's correct format but not up to an dvd rip avi - but equally what does it say about The Punch's readership?

I guess when you pitch your readership expectations at the lower end of the market, the mugwumps will come out of the swamp.

Which is why Tory Maguire, competitor for the title of bubble headed booby on the site, is distinctly unreadable, when she starts meandering on about how journalists and major media outlets are wonderful because they filter information and images (Citizen journalism: you might not like what you see).

Actually Tory, I'm still shocked at The Punch, or at least its readership, revealing to me that the moon landing was a hoax. Next your unfiltered site will be shocking me about the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. 

But it takes a particular kind of gall in classic Murdoch style to deliver this kind of homily when talking about a distressing image currently doing the rounds in relation to the Jakarta bombing:

It’s the kind of thing picture editors in newsrooms see all day every day. They look carefully at these images, analysing the amount of blood and body parts visible. They use their own personal judgment about their news value compared to the level of distress they will cause readers.

They go home at night with them running on high rotation in their minds, and they do it so you won’t have too much trouble getting to sleep.

But now that filter has been effectively removed.

I guess Tory's too young to have seen footage of the holocaust and its victims. Or the unvarnished footage of people caught up in war. It's been available a long time. So when she writes this kind of nonsense I wonder whether it was the moon or Mars conspiracy she's trying to hide. But back to the Jakarta snap she righteously won't show but will blather about:

The person who took the photo doing the rounds on Twitter had gained nothing from the picture - other than perhaps the intangible feeling every human being gets when they know something someone else doesn’t, or have something no-one else has.

It’s that feeling that is driving the relatively new phenomenon known as citizen journalism. Unfiltered by newsrooms full of trained journalists, we’re getting coverage of big events that is more timely than ever, more diverse than ever, and evidently, more raw than anything we’ve ever seen before.

The day I need Tory Maguire's trained filtering expertise is the day I'll roll over and die. 

And the sanctimonious notion that the intertubes is a festering mess only trained journalists should be able to handle? Come on down Iran, China, Stephen Conroy and Uncle Rupert. Especially by hinting that they're in the know about things which should be banned and which they won't show but which you can find easily enough if you look hard enough?

The relatively new phenomenon known as citizen journalism? Citizens and amateurs have been doing it since they invented the printing press. The medium might have changed, but the impulse has a long history.

More raw than anything we've ever seen before? Let's not get into a debate about what's rawest of the raw, but maybe Tory should get out and about a bit more. I'd expect a professional filter to understand a little more about the history things before she gets into the business of filtering ...

And I'd expect a bit more class than using the dire after effects of a terrorist attack to slag off social media while promoting a Punch special on social media this coming Monday. Suddenly I do believe in filtering ...

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