Revanchist Review

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I'm Cancelling My Newspaper Subscriptions

Every newspaper, from the first line to the last, is nothing but a web of horrors. War, crime, rapine, shamelessness, torture, the crimes of princes, the crimes of nations, the crimes of individuals, a delirium of universal atrocity.
Baudelaire, Mon Coeur mis a nu, 1863

Not much has changed in just under 150 years. I read the newspaper less and less, mostly because there is no delivery service for the National Post or Globe and Mail here in RR2 land. I read the National Post online, but despite its excellent site where there is a perfect digital reproduction of each page and you can flip through it like you would the paper version it just isn't the same as getting that newsprint on your fingers. I have now concluded that the damage to my brain from reading the daily stream of dreck is something I must take seriously.

Last week's story of how a hapless British climber was left to die alone on Mt. Everest as the pursuit of the goal of standing atop the world's highest rock trumped basic human decency, started me on this course leading to the cancellation of all newspaper subscriptons. Evidence of God's sense of humour offered a temporary stay of execution, as a few days later an Australian climber believed to be dead was revived by other climbers (they were on their way down it seems). He now appears to stand a good chance of survival, though minus some fingers and some brain cells. A deficiency in the latter seems to be a prerequisite for anyone who chooses to attempt the climb in the first place.

Today's National Post ended any fence-sitting on my part as I read the front page story about the University of Saskatchewan (my alma mater) graduate student in religious studies who presented her paper to the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences on the weekend. Her thesis is that the Trailer Park Boys trio of Julian, Ricky and Bubbles represent the Holy Trinity.

“Television has become our new church and its players our new prophets,” declares Arlene Stevens, a graduate student in religious studies at the University of Saskatchewan, who is presenting her findings on religiosity in Trailer Park Boys.

The article continues: "Ricky, the stooge-like character known for his dope-growing and his eternal screw-ups, is the Christ-like figure in Ms. Stevens’ Holy Trinity. She says his character shares Jesus’s faith in people, his caring for others rather than himself and faith that things will work out. His goal in life is to love his family, be good to his friends and love life, while superficially he is vulgar, uneducated and a criminal.

“Biblically, the suffering servant is the mysterious figure who bears humanity’s transgressions (Isaiah 53:5), although he is considered lowly, marginalized and despised by the world,” Ms. Stevens says in her paper, The Gospel According to Ricky, Biblical Values in the Trailer Park Boys.

Had she seen it, I suspect Ms. Stevens would have responded to the classified ad in a California newspaper, which reads, JESUS BREAD. Authentic last supper recipe. Delicious, easy. $1.00

For solace I turn to an old favourite, D.J. Enright for the final word on newspapers.

When I was a kid the local newspaper was full of births, marriages, and an occasional death, fetes, school sports and speech days,new flower beds in the Jephson Gardens, the benign doings of the town council, and the odd petty larceny. Now my local paper is packed with muggings, murders, rapes, drugs, hit-and-run accidents, and closing of public baths and lavatories. Is this the result of improved communications?