The Curious Case of Curious Cases

The Curious Case of Curious Cases August 30, 2011

What is often referred to as “strange” is itself very strange to me. The phenomena of being declared “strange,” “wild,” “curious,” and the rest is very peculiar to me. Interruptions amidst the insane hum-drum of everyday life may be exceptional, but they are also exceptionally ordinary. This brings me, again, to muse on the News.

I have frequently said that the News isn’t new at all, and that is true. When we look closer at this, when observe why the News isn’t new, we come to realize that what counts as “News” (or “reality TV,” too) is largely dependent on curious cases—what I have called the spectacle. A so-called “Newsflash” or “breaking news” is supposed to grab attention, glue you to the tube, send you into a state of total interest.

PAY ATTENTION: BEYONCE IS PREGNANT! KIM KARDASHIAN! A CRAZY MURDERER IS KILLING PEOPLE SOMEWHERE! WE ARE AT WAR, AGAIN! SOMETHING ABOUT SPORTS! SOMEONE RICH AND FAMOUS DIED! ANOTHER POLITICIAN GOT ELECTED OR DID/SAID SOMETHING REALLY STUPID! MONEY IS FLUCTUATING!

What is interesting about these sorts of “news stories” and headlines is that they are predictable, frequent, and ordinary. There is very little to be curious about. Not only is the News not new, the “news cycle” is old too.

This should raise the question about where the truly new things are. Where are the real curious cases? What is authentically strange, wild, outrageous, and spectacular?

The cross.


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  • Mark Gordon

    So true. The weirdest, wackiest, most wonderful thing that ever happened is the one thing we’d rather not think about. Thanks, Sam. I needed this today.

  • brettsalkeld

    I love how the Kim Kardashian bit didn’t even need any verbs.

    As a bit of a sports nut, I love highlights. When something absolutely spectacular happens, I often call my wife and say, ‘Honey, you have GOT to SEE this save/catch/hit/move!” She usually obliges, but is rarely too impressed. It got me thinking: professional sports are, from one perspective at least, the regular construction of “unbelievable” feats. They are also, of course, showcases of human excellence, but there is a way in which they are the primordial, and still the best, reality TV.

    • I agree with sports, and other forms of performative art, too—in both senses, as you show.

      Thanks,

      Sam