Friday, July 22, 2011

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Heatwave

It’s hot.

The best part of having severe weather like this recent heat wave is the local news coverage. However, unlike massive snowfalls, there really aren’t a lot of visuals you can throw up on the old TV screen. When you’ve shown one hillbilly family waving fans in their face in front of their bleak rental house, you’ve kind of seen it all. How many times can you look at some sweaty dope walking around a local festival saying such compelling things as “It’s really hot!”. It’s tough to make good TV out of, that’s for sure. To me it gets most exciting not on the first couple days of a heat wave, but on day three or so. Day one is a breathless recounting of stats. High temperatures. Heat indexes. Advisories. When you get to day three, the news department can’t just rehash the same old crap. They have to dig deep and try to get your attention with another angle on this heat thing.

An old tried and true one is the “cook the food item on pavement” gag. “It’s already 89 degrees out there, and Jim is going to place that egg on the car hood and see if it will actually cook!” It should be noted, they should probably do a dry run on this prior to airtime to make sure it actually does cook. Viewers will not be too excited by an egg slowly running off a car hood. A savvy news organization will show a shot of the reporter holding an egg, and then deftly cut to a close up of an egg frying in a pan, implying that it is so outside that you would fry up like a piece of bacon if you slipped onto the pavement. Why let reality get in the way of a good visual, you know?

One of the other keys is to appeal to safety by implying that not only is it hot, it’s somehow very dangerous for children. “With record breaking temperatures all over the viewing area, the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning. Is YOUR FAMILY at risk? Join us at six.” I don’t ever recall losing kids in my class to a heat wave when I was but a wee lad, and I doubt anyone else watching has either. However, parents are more overprotective than ever. They sure don’t want to be the ones at the bus stop on the first day of school one kid short. “Oh, no we only have two kids now. We lost Johnny on that heat wave. If only I had known about that heat warning, I never would have let him leave the air conditioned cocoon of our home. I can only blame myself.” (collapse into uncontrollable sobbing)

If the heat wave continues, the story angles get more and more suspect. Day 3. “With temperatures breaking records all over the North Coast, it’s the dog days of summer. Tune in at six to see how to best keep man’s best friend cool.” Day 4. “As this heat wave continues to roast the region, the National Weather Service has issued an ozone warning. Are you safe outside? Is your family safe? Join us at six for an exclusive report.” Day 5. “Record breaking temps have made Lake Erie a sea of lava. Will life continue? What does it mean for YOUR weekend? At six.” Day 6. “Tragedy strikes a local family as their six year old child dies from dehydration. At six, we’ll talk with local parents that want to extinguish the sun.”

Right now, we’re still in the “Beat the Heat” phase. That’s when all over town you see crap like, “Coming up, five ways the people of NE Ohio are beating the heat”. This usually turns out to be 1) staying in air conditioning 2) sitting in front of a fan 3) going for a swim 4) staying in the shade and 5) drinking cool liquids. Seriously, it’s like the newscasts are put together with the assumption that the viewers are all slightly more intelligent than your average sea mollusk. “Wait a minute! Honey, are you watching this? That fella on The News says we can cool off if we turn on the air conditioning and maybe whip up some lemonade!”

Eh, what are you going to do? Just like those morons you’ll run into today that will hit you with some “wacky” line like “Hey, hot enough out there for you?”, it’s all anyone wants to talk about. The problem is, there’s just not that much to say.

It’s hot.


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