April 08, 2005

The juxtaposition

The juxtaposition was a useful tool in studying architectural history, many moons ago. We would put two buildings up on the wall at the same time and compare and contrast and see what we could learn from the process. Like I said, a useful tool for art history but it has its limitations when applied to other things. I keep telling myself that, you see, and I'm almost convinced.

I was working out this morning, as I do most every morning, and the television was broadcasting coverage of the funeral of the Pope. While at first I was very skeptical about the benefit to my work out this broadcast could have, I ended up engrossed. It was beautiful and moving and wonderful and terribly sad all at the same time. One priest said it best when he said that maybe there was a life lesson here for all of us -- that here was a man who was rich beyond compare in love, his funeral attended by millions but who owned almost nothing, had no money, no family and no sexual intimacy but who was nonetheless rich. Something there for sure, even if I am not willing to pay the kind of price this man paid, putting to one side the fact that I am Jewish. Still, a much loved and, by all accounts, a tremendous man, a tremendous human being, a tremendous loss to the Catholic Church and to the world as a whole. New Yorkers have a special bond with the Church, whether you are Jewish or Catholic or something else. When John Cardinal O’Connor died, I felt it as my loss, because as a New Yorker I felt he was my Cardinal, too. I hope my Catholic readers understand and don't mind my claiming him, too. And I think it was like that for a lot of New Yorkers.

Anyway, back to Rome and this morning. I was mortifying the flesh on the elliptical trainer and watching the funeral and it was very special.

And then, a commercial. The commercial, the first one in over 20 minutes, was for a drug, a medicine. Ok so far, right? The drug had something to do with vaginal infections. It had a long list of warnings and side effects -- like be careful because your vagina could fall out if you take this or you could bleed or your uterus might float away.

Boom. Your juxtaposition. Funeral of the Pope right up next to vaginal bleeding. The best and worst of America in terms of picking a time and place to run that advert. Advertisements pay for the television coverage. They make it possible to send the reporters to Rome and broadcast this beautiful rite. I get it, really. But couldn't Fox News have shown a different commercial at that time? Something a little less graphic, perhaps. Something a little more solemn. Maybe I'm the only one that this bothered, and that's ok, since its my blog and I get to write about whatever I want. But it was the juxtaposition that got to me. The Sacred/Profane or at least mundane. I would have felt the same if the ad was for foot fungus, by the way. What did this juxtaposition say about America, this mixture of Rite/Commerce?

And here is where I run into the limitations of the juxtaposition, for while the juxtaposition may always teach you something, maybe the lesson isn't worth having or the comparisons don't hold water.

I don't know if that happened here because I find myself curiously reluctant to follow the path that this juxtaposition is leading me -- to condemn Fox and American television for their timing. What do you think? Is this a juxtaposition worth talking about? Or should I have gotten off the machine before I cooked my brain this morning?

Posted by Random Penseur at April 8, 2005 03:25 PM

At least it was a serious commercial for a prescription drug. They could've picked one that was a bit more tasteful, though.

I used to have a videotape from 1985-6 of a CBS News Nightwatch broadcast: Charlie Rose interviewing Charles Manson. It was long and intense and serious. It really got into Manson's justifications for what happened. Fascinating and creepy. I watched it many times and played it for many of my friends.

The interview ends and the announcer says something like, "Coming up next, we'll see what the new model year has in store... Is there a car for you...?". Just left us shaking our heads.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at April 9, 2005 12:20 PM

You should try CSPAN for coverage of things like this. They DON'T show commercials, don't have the voice-overs talking through the whole thing. I watched both National Conventions last year and the Pope's funeral and also coverage of the Prince's wedding. I'm a firm watcher of CSPAN when it comes to important events with no commercials and blathering.

Posted by: jules at April 11, 2005 12:49 PM

i don't believe you cooked your brain.

Posted by: sn at April 12, 2005 08:08 AM

I'm guessing it was a contracted commercial. The Pope's funeral displaced regular programming and that one was probably set to run during Regis and whatsername or some other female viewer attracting show. I can't imagine that a vaginal bleeding medication manufacturer would want to advertise during the Pope's funeral.

Posted by: Jim at April 15, 2005 11:49 AM
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