Rachel Maddow is smirking today. That, of course, doesn’t distinguish this from any other day. Maddow’s smirk has become part of her now-predictable style, along with the chirpy delivery, the dressing-up of partisanship as wonky pragmatism, and the endless repetitious snark after playing clips. (“What was the name of the act there? Hoot-Smawley? Known to everyone else as Smoot-Hawley?”) But Maddow has particular reason to be self-satisfied today. Chris Christie is trailing Hillary Clinton in a new poll by eight points, thanks to the Bridgegate scandal that Maddow’s network, MSNBC, has been covering relentlessly.
Anchorman 2 is only two hours long, but based on its intensive marketing, which went on for almost a month ahead of the movie’s release date, any viewer could reasonably expect a life-changing theatrical experience. Will Ferrell showed up in character, as suave ’60s news anchor Ron Burgundy, in every SUV commercial, late-night talk show, local news broadcast, obscure Midwestern dive bar, and small-town parade float from sea to shining sea between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He released a book, a Scotch-flavored (well, butterscotch) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and a Scotch-flavored Scotch, all designed to either promote Anchorman 2 or to begin a slow process of global domination. His media saturation was supposed to build excitement for the sequel. It ended up being almost better than the picture itself — and a better critique of the media industry.
When technology — or anything — becomes all the rage, it’s only en vogue thing to do is speak out against it. So for years I’ve interacted with social media sites, mostly Facebook, Twitter sparingly, determined to benefit from the good they offer, reject the bad, and move forward without becoming that curmudgeonly person who harps on about the dangers of technology.
Alas, I’ve succumbed.
Facebook offers good qualities as a virtual institution, which is really what it’s become. It provides a way people can keep informed and connected, laughing and crying. This can be a good thing. I’ve often discovered important news or personal anecdotes that have saved me from embarrassment (It is? Happy Birthday then!). It’s also good to peek in on the lives of some friends, if just to know they’ve recently gotten a new job or lost a loved one.