There are a few movies that I am, for the sake of other people’s fragile sanity, no longer permitted to watch.
The most notable of these is probably “Shakespeare in Love,” which missed the mark for me for the sole reason that the woman pretending to be a man (pretending to be a woman) who was Shakespeare’s girlfriend in the movie did not have the initials W.H. To me, this meant the writers of the film clearly did not care about Shakespeare, which made the whole film evil.
Other than that, though, I am no longer allowed to watch movies about reporters–specifically, newspaper reporters and news writers.
These are the characteristics of reporters on TV:
- They do not carry a notebook and a pen, nor any technological equivalents such as recorders. Because we all memorize everything we hear and/or never have to have quotes in a story.
- If they have a job writing features, they hate that job, and want to write big, important political news instead. Because that’s what everyone likes to write, without exception, you know! Not stories about saving puppies or the new restaurant in town! (Actually, my ambition in life is to become the official Puppy Editor for the Sun, but that’s a story for a different time.)
- Alternately, they cover big, important, political stories. They never have to sit through four-hour meetings about ditch repair in order to do this.
- These types of important-things-reporters very often get shot at by conspirators. I have been shot at exactly once in my years of reporting, and that was a result of covering a small-town shooting tournament in which people shooting at a metal bird managed to ricochet a shotgun blast about ten feet from where I was standing. It was an accident. And they probably should have put the “Do not stand past this line” line a little further away from the metal bird.
- They have some sort of axe to grind, some sort of agenda. This extends to the reporter in “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” who doesn’t have a recording device and is bent on getting dirt on some guy. You know, some of us just like to write down what happens, with as little bias as possible and as accurately as possible.
- They are hardened to tragedy and love mayhem, eagerly chasing after it like a lion hunting a wounded gazelle. I’ve cried at least a few times in my reporting career, and I know at least a few people who go and cry in the bathroom when a story hits a little too close to home. Stories do that sometimes, even to the hardened newsroom veterans. Some people do love mayhem. But a lot of us chase it because we have to, and would much rather cover puppies, thank you.
- They are irreverent and smart-alecky, often with a fairly morbid sense of humor. This is actually somewhat true, not of all, but certainly some reporters. Humor is a defense mechanism, and it does work. Don’t mistake it for not being genuinely sorry about a tragedy, though. If my obituary’s not hilarious, I fully intend to haunt whoever writes it–or maybe just their puppies.