Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Having Your Trump and Eating It Too

Tired of seeing Donald Trump's mug and the mugs of hysterical pundits screaming that Donald Trump is making the sky fall with his every Tweet, I finally called my cable company to cut the cord.

 I told the person on the other end of the line that I only wanted to get rid of the TV portion of my Triple Play Package, whose monthly rate had gradually doubled since I first signed up for it more years ago than I can remember.

I was immediately transferred to the special agent in charge of getting subscribers to change their minds. She asked why I no longer wished to avail myself.

"Two words," I replied. "Donald Trump!"

Of course, since I write for a non-living, I couldn't let it go at just those two words. So I launched into my tirade of news just not being news any more. I want, I said, to be informed, not to be screamed at by corporate stooges telling me I should be spending all my days and all my nights Being Very Afraid of Donald Trump. I not only want to break up with Donald Trump, I want to break up with the entire Trump Terror Franchise.

Plus, since I have a couple of streaming services, cable TV is getting more redundant by the minute.

"You do realize, don't you," the cable rep cautioned, "That the movies you can watch on Pay-Per-View are newer than the ones you can watch on Netflix."

I don't care, I said. I'm still trying to catch up on films that came out 50 years ago. For example, I finally got around to watching "Nothing Sacred" with Carole Lombard for the first time in my life on Sunday night.

Finally realizing that I am indeed one of those people who can actually survive without cable TV, the Special Agent in Charge of Retention relented and offered me a very special secret deal available only to loyal customers like me. I'd get $50 knocked off my monthly bill, keep all my cable TV channels, and as an added bonus, they'd upgrade my Internet service to a higher, more professional speed usually available only to the elite business class.

Great! So why wasn't I offered this deal before, I asked.

The retention agent chuckled knowingly. I seems that I had stupidly failed to read the offer in super tiny print when it first came out in 2011, delivered with my monthly bill (actually, it's more like bi-monthly, since it's on a 21-day cycle.) R-i-i-i-ght, I agreed.

So anyway, an independent contractor of the cable company showed up right on schedule with my new modem. Not that I've scientifically measured the speed with which I can now access all my political fund-raising emails from the various Democratic subsidiaries of Resistance, Inc. or anything, but I honestly can't tell any difference at all. However, since the shiny new modem now sitting under my desk is almost twice the size of the older model, I will be a dutifully happy consumer. I just have to remember to call them back a year from now to re-cancel, before they automatically double my rates again.

So, as they say in the media biz, here's your takeaway: when dealing with your cable company, always behave like Donald Trump. Bluster, complain, meander insanely, and scoff at the pitiful enticements. And then, if you're as lucky, and successful and, like, as smart as me and The Donald, you will win. You will make your checking account balance, if not great again, at least healthy enough to cash in on the latest Buy One Get One Free Doritos deal, and munch merrily away while you consume All Fear, All the Time.

And just as an aside, the next time a cable guy or gal comes to your house, find out if they're directly employed by your "provider" -- which, as often as not, also creates the content as well as delivering it. Since their technicians are increasingly members of the low-paid, no benefit gig economy, please consider giving them a tip on their way out.
Meanwhile, the New York Times has some helpful advice on adjusting your media diet in the Age of Trump. Do I need to tell you that an integral part of this therapeutic regimen is to stop visiting Facebook and Twitter and reading blogs like Sardonicky, and instead restrict your consumption to mainstream media outlets -- such as New York Times?

It's because editors are like hospital dieticians whipping up a bland diet. One source for Christopher Mele's piece appreciates editors who "select the top stories and spare him from reading 'the incomplete, incremental, second-rate stuff often published online.'" (translation: anything that criticizes the centrist neoliberal establishment or departs from the official Narrative.)

Too much information in the Age of Trump, warn media experts turned shrinks, is like junk food laced with crack cocaine. It is harmful to your health. The Times quotes one media therapist expert, Dan Gillmor, who suggests a Slow News Movement modeled after the Slow Food Movement. Just because there's an endless selection of news product on the shelves doesn't mean we have to cram our maws with every last bite: 
“We haven’t been asking anything of the news-producing group, namely journalists, who I would strongly argue should be more involved in managing the insane flow of information and misinformation,” he said. “It would be better if we had an approach that said, ‘Calm down.’”
Some of the advice is just common sense. For example, if you made the mistake of watching Donald Trump's prime time Supreme Court Nominee Show on Tuesday night, you probably lost at least some sleep. A cheese is a cheese is a cheese. By any other name it would smell as pungent, especially if you're already prone to acid reflux or the night terrors.
So any day now, Big Pharma will be marketing its psychoactive cornucopia to sufferers of News Fatigue Disorder... in glitzy ads on the Nightly News.
I think I'll just pretend that my cable cord is not still intact and settle down with a good book. I hear that dystopian lit is making quite a comeback, Not only is Orwell's 1984 reportedly already out of stock on Amazon, but Hannah Arendt's weighty Origins of Totalitarianism is also doing a brisk business.
Sweet dreams, everybody.


Jamie said...

I am going to cut the cable for the opposite reason. The news stations have become a 24/7 infomercial against Trump ... in favor of neoliberal imperialism, globalism, and corporate governance. The more they become the anti-Trump Pravda, the more this Marxist will tolerate Trump, since all media is simply an edifice of the capitalist superstructure.

Yet I don't blame you for cutting the crap. It's a lot to pay for a circus clown cam.

Karen Garcia said...


We're really on the same page. Who to loathe more - Trump, or the anti-Trump corporate media? I lean toward the anti-Trump virtue-signalers myself. Re Resistance, Inc: the coup de grace for me was Obama's press agent (not Obama himself, who's still busy vacationing on a private island where the rate for paying guests starts at $78,000 a night) saying how much he is "heartened" by the protest movement.

I'm sure that many protesters are upset with more than just Trump the Person and his cabinet, but it's painfully obvious, given all the professional politician and celebrity involvement,that the Marches and the Airport stand-offs are meant for the ultimate benefit of the Democratic Party, a/k/a Resistance, Inc. I consumed the news this morning of multimillionaire minority leader Nancy Pelosi standing in front of the Supreme Court for a protest photo-op, and I nearly upchucked the content all over my slick new modem. I read on an off-label comment board that to call them Vichy Democrats is actually an insult to the French Nazi collaborators. These centrists and liberals cannot rubber-stamp Trump's oligarchic cabal fast enough.

Another one of my favorite pet peeves this week: Obama and Clinton fans still urging the Democrats to "grow a spine."

Elizabeth Adams said...

Good for you, Karen! "Why didn't you offer me that to begin with?"

I dropped cable a long time ago, after it almost doubled in a few years. I dropped AT&T land line years ago because it DID double in 8 years for the same service. When I dropped AT&T, I told them why, and I said "My salary hasn't doubled in 8 years."

The kids grieved the loss of a few stations for a while. But there is less noise and tension in our home, and we have more control over what we do watch -- thanks to the internet.

Pearl said...

But does your new/old cable system still include the rants of Trump or does it go black when he appears, Karen.

Neil said...

RE "I'm still trying to catch up on films that came out 50 years ago."

Nothing Sacred with Carole Lombard, Release date November 25, 1937

Karen, you are still trying to catch up on films that came out 80 years ago!

But seriously, what are they teaching in journalism school?

BTW, my cable was cut years ago, and how I miss Turner Classic Movies.

Jay–Ottawa said...

We dropped TV in 2011 but kept the internet of course. Recently, on the advice of a neighbor we lurched through the same crazy routine described by Karen with our baby bell up here. One phone call––no threats, no weeping, just askin'––got us an upgrade for 1/3 less dough. Huh? Yes, welcome to the world. From such petty yet unremitting injustices great fortunes are made. Every day, at your expense. I sometimes wonder, could I breathe without the internet? And if so, do the Amish accept converts?

Karen Garcia said...

Actually, Neil, I am still catching up with films that came out nearly a hundred years ago. Just caught the Weimar-era Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on Netflix not too long ago.

Re TCM, you can stream some of their movies, plus they just came out with a new service called Fanstruck, which has a lot of films from the Criterion Collection. I was annoyed when Hulu discontinued the Criterion movies last fall.

And yes, Jay, everything is negotiable. You can even dicker over prescriptions at the drugstore, since medicines are way overpriced to begin with.

Neil said...

Thanks Karen for the TCM update. Its been so long I’ve moved on... and I avoid subscriptions after my experience with the NY Times 28 day billing cycle and my 30-31 payday schedule... now its DVDs on a 9 inch TV/DVD combo next to my computer... mostly for background company... don’t (can’t) watch ordinary TV with constant commercials... otherwise it’s YouTube for everything from current news to music to documentaries... been watching Ken Burns "The War" on DVD for years, love the first person accounts

Otherwise, what are they teaching in journalism school? Now that investigative journalism has vanished?

Karen Garcia said...


There are also plenty of movies available for free on YouTube. My tip is to type in a movie title and see if it's available. You can often access older movie classics this way.