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Cartoon

The trees are more vivid with color, and are made alive by a frisky wind. This time of year is a challenging and spooky one for many people because the energy of summer flails out in one burst, but we all know what happens when it is spent.

It was an especially trying time this year as the 9/11 anniversary came, the first time on a Tuesday since the event itself. Imagination is made from all this activity, since memories are made harsh as the light itself fades. The long draw into spooky season is at hand.

Reality is a tricky concept when the mind is ready for action and the stimuli thrown at it are chilling. There is only so much we can process. More importantly, there are details we require on an emotional level that are often absent. We have to fill these in. This problem becomes a bit more harsh when so much about the world we have to live in comes to us through a teevee.

Nooze shows can only show us so much by having cameras roam around places like Iraq. Yes, it is “real” footage, but it is inherently stripped of its context. What happened 15 minutes earlier? A day earlier? Who are the people we see involved? Did the local residents see this as inevitable? Just? There is only so much we can tell about any of it. The details, especially the human emotions, must be filled in by the viewer. Teevee nooze is inherently political for this reason, because it demands that those watching fill in a series of emotional details, deep in their guts. That process creates a personal connection that is not real after all. It is something of a cartoon of reality – the emotional color is too bright.

I doubt that I have to mention the artificial nature of “reality” teevee shows in order to make my point further. The more “real” teevee is forced to be, the less it actually is. That is why I tell people that an event you witnessed on teevee was not an actual event in your life – no matter how often it is rerun on msnbc.

If reality displayed on the box is more like a cartoon, what is reality? Consider for a moment that cartoons might be. In the process of developing “Futurama” or “Pinky and the Brain”, the writers have to create an entire universe populated with characters that react the way the viewer can relate to in some way. If you can’t relate to Fry or Pinky, they aren’t funny anymore. The connection that has to be made is more than footage ripped of context, it has to be personal.

Science Fiction, at its best, has always been about presenting a distant world that compels the reader/viewer to think about their own world in a different way. It is another example of the power that fiction has over supposed “reality”.

Does this mean that reality and cartoons have crossed? Only if you believe that teevee is more important than the crisp air and glowing colors of the world around you. The medium remains the message. If life is a medium, it is the only one with the bubble of smells and sounds and sights that our chimpanzee brain is capable of making sense of. Take one or more of those away, or remove the history of them, and we have to fill in the details with our imagination. If that’s the case, we’re better off being honest that it’s imagination and letting the details flow appropriately – otherwise, we’re all just kidding ourselves.

The approaching Autumn is a wonderful thing to drink in, even if it does come at us a bit fast. And when I’ve had enough of it, I can relax knowing that in one week we have the season premiere of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. That’s some quality teevee.

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