It’s beginning to feel like this has been with us forever.
And harder for us to believe that one of these days, or months, or years, it will be gone.
It’s the live video feed from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. When BP engineers lowered those cameras in the first place, you can bet they never imagined that the resulting pictures would be watched by hundreds of millions of infuriated people around the world.
They were for in-house use — to monitor the well, a well that was intended to be an uncontroversial source of enormous profit for the oil company. The cameras were like the security cameras that most corporations install around their office buildings. Just a little something so the bosses can keep their eye on things…
The ceaseless image of the oil spewing has become like an international night light — except without the comfort. It’s always there. We can count on it, even though we’d prefer not to.
It has become the logo of the disaster. It is a ghastly portrait in perpetual motion. Every time there is a dash of hope that the oil will stop gushing, something newly bad happens. In recent days, it was the temporary removal of the containment cap deep in the Gulf. The oil surged harder. And we, in our spare moments, watched.
The television feed is like a heartbreaking mutation of those lava lamps from the 1960s and 1970s — those oddly shaped doodads with the colorful churn of liquid trapped inside, an undulating mixture hypnotic in its incessant and random kinetic swirl. The terrible difference, of course, is that the frantic churn from the oil pipe is not trapped. It is freely headed toward unwelcoming shores.
In my neck of the prairie, folks who maintain a fascination with that live feed are as demented as rubberneckers who hit their brakes and slow down to peer at carnage on the opposite side of the freeway after an accident.
But, the lazy dullards of the entertainment-as-news brigade really drive me to distraction when they stick a frame in the corner of “news” programs, hour after hour after hour showing that fracking bubbling pot at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. What are we supposed to learn from it? There’s nothing in that video as entertaining as a lava lamp is to a stoner.
About as useless as prayer groups gathering to implore some sky-dude to stop the leak.
Reality TV for truly stupid TV producers.