That was the title of a comedy album recorded by Robin Williams way back in the twentieth century. Memorized quips and bits from this record became part of my everyday patter for a decade or so. It also rings in my head now as a wake-up for our new millennium. Way back in 1979 "reality TV" was Walter Cronkite telling us the way it was. You could believe what you saw because Walter, who was politely mocked at times by Mister Williams, wasn't going to mince words or edit tape.
Which brings us to today. A world full of YouTube and cellphone video that causes us all to ponder the world in which we live differently. For example: Did you have even a moment of quiet consideration before you discerned that popping corn with invisible radiation from those cellphones was probably a lot of hooey? As a result, don't you find yourself looking at any "incredible feat" with a slightly bitter taste in your mouth? That high school kicker who boots seventy yard field goals? The half-court shots? Why believe anything? Now that just about any twelve year old with access to his mom's iPad can edit and distort video that he and his buddies shot in their back yard, I believe only in the monstrous grain of salt that I need to imagine any of these "events" actually took place.
Am I a skeptic? You bet. I have never tried to fry a batch of chicken in a vat of pure Wesson oil, but I tend not to take as gospel anything that comes in a link. This is, after all, virtual reality. The kind that offers up hours of "non-scripted" television across the cable and satellite waves every day. It makes me even more nervous to reflect on the explanations, found primarily on Al Gore's Internet, of how these stories are actually manipulated versions of staged moments, often repeated for the vast viewing audience who refer to it as their own shared experience. Of course, I have Clint Eastwood to thank for the awareness of just how long our vision of history has been manipulated, and that's long before he started talking to empty chairs.
And, for that matter, you are under no pressure whatsoever to believe anything you've just seen here.