EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Last night's Daily Show had a sharp demolition of all the silly news coverage over the fact that yesterday was 6/6/06---close to 666, the so-called "Devil's number." A montage of the various news reports concerning 6/6/06 ended with clips from reports that apparently discussed how people actually expected it to be the day of the Apocalypse, or something like that.
"Day of the Devil," said host Jon Stewart, "...or regular numerical sequence???"
One of the things my classmates and I discussed this past semester in my Media Criticism class was how advertising had become so prevalent in our society that it was perhaps starting to creep into news as well, however unconsciously. Frequently, for instance, you'll see news reports touting the latest hot new film, and not always in a serious, in-depth manner either: often, the kind of touting that goes on in some news is done in a fluffy style, whether by joking with a celebrity involved in the film, or perhaps even indirectly---by reporting on something related to a particular film's subject. Usually the proximity of such a news report as the latter type is such that it tips you off that, at that point, the news program is, in a way, advertising that upcoming film. A bald marketing tie-in, in other words.
Now, maybe it's all just coincidence that many news programs yesterday seemed to feel the need to waste a few minutes discussing the history of 666 the same day that the new remake of The Omen opened, on 6/6/06. But I just couldn't help reading a kind of subconscious news industry and entertainment industry collusion in the coverage. (Even Brian Lehrer, one of the midday talk show hosts on the public radio station WNYC 93.9 FM had a whole segment on his two-hour show devoted to 666.) Obviously, news programs need news to fill up time, but couldn't they have come up with something more interesting and enlightening than creating silly, pointless hype about a day that has absolutely no significance whatsoever save for the fact that, if you write out the date a certain way, it almost looks like the number of the Devil? (Damn that extra "0," said Daily Show host Jon Stewart last night.)
I guess my point is: if 2oth Century Fox hadn't been clever enough to open The Omen yesterday, I wonder if so many networks would have made such a big deal about the day? Coincidence? Maybe not.
Of course, this is old news to a lot of people: this kind of puffery has been going on for a long while now in the media. But then 6/6/06 only happens once every 100 years. Unless I'm really fucking lucky, I don't think I'll be alive in another century to sound off on the absurdity of this implicit movie promotion in the news media. It sure can be difficult to trust TV news---especially American TV news---sometimes.
Oh, and on last night's Daily Show segment about the 6/6/06 coverage, Jon Stewart posed the great central question: if people actually think we're all going to Hell on 6/6/06, then "I couldn't imagine where you think we're going on July 11."