Thursday, May 9, 2013

ANOTHER Gorilla!

This may not be the smartest video to use to illustrate this story, as, on the surface, it could be misinterpreted that I’m a racist scumbag. I hope my writing proves otherwise.

An interesting bit of news today coming out of (that aggregator in disguise), National Public Radio, and a few local Cleveland, Ohio, news outlets: The much-celebrated Charles Ramsey, hailed in the news and on the Internet as the hero who freed three women held captive by a neighbor for nearly a decade isn’t the only hero in the picture.

In fact, he wasn’t even the first on the scene.

His wasn’t the home from where Amanda Berry made her now-famous 911 call.

But no one here is shouting “First!” least of all Angel Cordero, who was first on the scene and working on the door when Amanda Berry first started screaming; neither is Wentel Tejeda, from whose home Berry made the call. Both say they just did what had to be done (as did Ramsey, of course) to rescue the three women and the small girl held captive in their neighborhood for so long.

So why is Charles Ramsey getting all the notoriety? And why are we all being called racist for “enjoying” his “hilarious” video interviews? (Now, some of the memeification of Ramsey is clearly racist. But that’s not what I’m talking about.)

It’s because the media is racist(!)

That is, of course, click bait. Because the media really isn’t racist. Not really. Not really, really racist. They just happened to focus on the rescuer who spoke English, so maybe it’s more fair to say it’s because the media is monolingual.

Codero and Tejeda are Hispanic. Both offered interviews to local Cleveland news outlets (and others now that the Buzz! and the Wham! of the rescue and Rasmification of it all is fading) in Spanish. Both Codero and Tejeda were less colorful in their language, even if they spoke in one the reporters didn’t quite understand.

So it’s not because the media is racist. They’re just monolingual, and, let’s face it – I was once a media as well so I know very well what I’m talking about here – they’re also just lazy.

Ramsey is a hero. Absolutely no question. He helped break those ladies out of their hell. And he’s colorful – not in skin, but in language. Get any red-blooded reporter in a room with the likes of Charles Ramsey and more timid, less English-able folks like Codero and Tejeda, and the media is naturally going to gravitate toward Ramsey because he’s there with the Boffo that every story needs, even a story where four people set free from captivity doesn’t carry enough Boffo of its own.

So is it a wonder that the video of Ramsey is the one making the Internet rounds – it’s the one the media shoved into our faces. It’s the colorful one. It’s the one that makes a spectacular news event entertaining and, well, entertaining, because once again the rescue of these ladies isn’t enough.

Aldous Huxley knows what I’m talking about.

Bill Hall, who used to write opinion for the Lewiston Morning Tribune, once penned a column in which he kind of laughed at the media tendency to focus on the gorilla in the room – literally. He attended an environmental rally at which someone wore a gorilla costume. So the costumed person is the one who was photographed and put into the newspapers regionally. Because he was more colorful than your typical, run-of-the-mill tree-hugger, which, considering this is North Idaho, is saying something.

The media will focus on the color every time.

Recently, some friends of ours in Sugar City got involved in a fundraiser for a sick kid. One wing of the fundraiser put together a benefit auction and dinner for the kid. The other wing put together a motorcycle rally – because the kid really likes motorcycles – and made him the grand marshal. Guess which wing of the event got the most coverage on the news? And guess which event leader got bent out of shape because her event didn’t get equal coverage?

Once again, it’s the Gorilla Question.

So yeah. There were more gorillas in the room, so to speak, in Ohio. The media simply chose, as they raced to be first and to meet those deadlines, to present to us the one with pretty white girls running into his arms and the McDonalds bag in his lap.

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