Escape from the dysfunction, discord and disrespect

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Posted 9/13/16 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to identify with Will McAvoy.
Except, of course, that he makes multiple millions of dollars a year.
And, of course, that he’s a fictional TV character.
The back story:
It’s a part of my pedigree to be frugal. Occasionally my wife would use a different descriptor, like cheap.
But I’ve got my reasons.
We get, like, 150 channels with our basic cable TV subscription, and there’s still nothing to watch.
So why would I want to add the newfangled things like Hulu or Netflix or DirecTV with the NFL package, or for that matter, HBO.
Being a life-long newspaper guy and news junkie, my kids thought I’d enjoy a TV show called “The Newsroom.”
But it’s an HBO series, and I’m not paying the extra 20 bucks a month just to watch a once-a-week episode.
So for Christmas last year they suggested that my wife buy me the DVDs of the first three seasons of “The Newsroom,” a series set in the news studios of Atlantis Cable News, better known as ACN.
The premier show on this 24-hour news channel is News Night, and Will McAvoy is the anchor.
Which explains why he’s a fictional multi-millionaire.
He’s also a moderate Republican and a newsman who struggles with the modern-day culture that defines news as whatever everybody else is reporting.
While he understands the shallow concept that the big rush for ratings -- translation: dollars -- places artificial and undue importance on getting it first, he knows in his heart of hearts that the real importance is getting it right.
Which means a tweet and a Facebook post aren’t equal to confirmation of a story that will impact lives, even if three other networks are going with it.
At the beginning of the third season Will becomes deeply frustrated by the conflict between how the business is and how he believes it should be.
He throws up his arms in disgust, and mutters that maybe he should just quit his job and go do something innocuous like sports.
There, at long last, it is. The point that explains why these days I’m identifying with Will McAvoy.
You look at the state of the world these days and you get the overwhelming urge to just go do something like sports to take your mind off dysfunction, discord and disrespect.
 You read the state newspapers and the reports are dominated by construction and protests of pipelines.
The protesters are sure that big bad oil and big bad law enforcement are unfairly running roughshod over the rights and customs of native people.
Infrastructure supporters are just as sure that this isn’t about water and sacred grounds, but about sovereignty and stopping fossil fuel development.
Both sides produce spin as they see it benefitting their cause; neither side  acknowledges that reasonable people can have differences of opinion and still look for middle ground.
It all makes you want to escape to the tube to watch Carson Wentz demonstrate that good things really do come out of North Dakota.
You read the national news and it’s all about the trash-talking presidential campaign.
You see: a narcissistic, name-calling bully who makes stuff up as he goes; an untrustworthy and devious partisan who wants to be our first female president; a third-party candidate who doesn’t know where Aleppo is and is stuck on legalizing marijuana; and a fourth-party candidate whose idea of publicity is getting arrested for vandalizing someone else’s property.
Whoever eventually gets elected will be someone whom most of America doesn’t like and doesn’t trust and doesn’t want as president.
It all induces the McAvoyan inclination to forget about everything and turn on the Vikings.
You could say the same thing about so many other topics -- immigration, health care, Common Core, taxes, abortion, LGBT rights and more.
In just about every case, it seems, people simply aren’t tolerant of a different point of view or, for that matter, the person who holds it.
This is characteristic of a social media world, and it makes you yearn for a World Series to clear your mind.
And that’s when the light bulb comes on, illuminating the idea that being free to be objectionable is one of the things that makes ours the greatest country in the world -- still.