Saturday, February 12, 2011

Democrazy: The Game

Maybe, but the big North American news networks won't be there when it happens. - Maybe, but the big North American news networks won't be there when it happens. | APLast weekend, while my husband sat in his man cave and watched a few dozen men throw a pigskin around a million dollar stadium, I sat up in the comfort of my room and watched as a few thousand men and women pushed their country toward revolution. My show was better. You wanna know why? It lasted longer, had way fewer commercials, way more cheerleaders and the outcome was far more satisfying. Are you gonna remember who won the Super Bowl this time next year? Probably not. Will you remember that a legion of thousands toppled a government in a little more than a contestant cycle of American Idol? Uh Huh. That's what I'm talking about.

John Doyle, the curmudgeon-y television critic for The Globe and Mail might disagree, though. In an excellent column he wrote this week, he claimed that the majority of Canadian cared little or not a whit for the antics in Egypt. He cited that our general disinterest had something to do with the fact that Canadian viewers didn't actually "care much about Egyptians".

They have no empathy and very little interest in what Egyptians say, think, do or feel about anything. Groups of angry people demonstrating on the street in Arab countries make viewers in North America uneasy. The knee-jerk reaction is to associate the visuals with Islamic fundamentalism. The visuals look all too similar to footage of anti-American, anti-Western rage erupting somewhere. The other knee-jerk response in viewers is to remain steadfastly indifferent to any nuance in the situation.

So sad because on some level, it is so true. I took a random sampling of men and women on the streets of my town and asked them what they thought of what was going on in Egypt and the majority of them had little or no interest in the events. (N.B. Actually, for the record, I asked 6 people at my rural post office over two days. Not exactly an Angus Reid poll but my resources and time were limited.) Short of throwing Anderson Cooper into an angry mob, how can we get the average North American audience to give a fig about democracy? Hell, we can even get the average American to give a crap about their own crumbling state. Yeah, it's destroying itself or hadn't you noticed?

So, what I propose for the next revolution is the following: merge the NFL line-up with the revolutionary line-up.

You're not following me? Let me explain: The one thing both events have in common is great handles. Hosni Mubarak. Excellent name! LaDanian Tomlinson. Strong. So, what better way to keep the eyes on the prize than get a bunch of these guys in the same room and work together to keep people interested. Because, if I'm to understand the problem correctly this not about the rise (or inevitable fall) of democracy but about ratings, correct? So in that case, I'll see your Ehud Barak and raise you a Jabari Greer.

This is just crazy enough to work, people. Just crazy enough to work.

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