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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Fox News does the Kurt Vonnegut obit (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Fox News does the Kurt Vonnegut obit
katharina
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Most blank verse is, frankly, dreadful. Most poetry in general is dreadful. I hate all poetry in E.E. Cummings's style except for the stuff written by E. E. Cummings.

That someone tried and failed is not a reason to condemn them for trying. [Smile] I can't think of a more surefire way to cobble creativity into generic blandness than to blast someone for not being as good as a famous author.

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Chris Bridges
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I'm a Vonnegut fan, and I am most definitely not a fan of FOX News.

I thought it was an accurate Speaking, if unfortunately phrased.

The mention of his opinion of Nixon and Reagan is appropriate because those outspoken beliefs are what helped make Vonnegut a well-known name. And he definitely did produce his share of left-wing screeds, becoming something of a hero to the left-wing literati (along with a few zillion college students). His later comments on Carter and Clinton didn't affect his own life as drastically, so they didn't get mentioned. However, Rosen should have mentioned those views to present a more rounded man who distrusted most politicians, not just the ones on the right.

Had the piece closed with a clip from Vonnegut talking about his unhappiness and his suicide attempt it would have worked. Coming from someone else talking about Vonnegut, it adds a disparaging tone. I can call myself a failure and it's funny or sad or ironic, or a little of all three. If you call me a failure it sounds mean.

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Samprimary
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How about I condemn them for making an obituary which was a bald-faced insult, filled with ignominious supposition and partisan overtones, and was not at all an accurate description of the man?

Anyone who wanted to describe Vonnegut as 'the liberal's sacred cow' who had been 'irrelevant since the 70's' and descending into whack leftism should have been shot, or at very least not given the chance to give the obit.

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Scott R
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Wow.

That obituary was terrible.

"Vonnegut wrote that he didn't want his children to say that he was a very funny man, but terribly unhappy...so I'll say it for them."

Worst. Line. Ever.

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TomDavidson
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"So, wow. Anna Nicole Smith, like, died or something. She did some stuff and had, y'know, big boobs. And she married this old guy and he died and his kids, like, had a cow about her getting his money. So there was that. Anyway, lots of people said she totally looked like Marilyn Monroe when she wasn't too fat. She being Anna Nicole, not Marilyn Monroe. But they both died of an overdose, so they're, like, freaky blonde sisters."

"Jimmy Doohan's broken up! They sent him back out into the world held together with trilinium and duct tape, and there was just too much pressure in his arterial conduits! He gave us a few more years, but he couldna kep himself in the air any longer!"

*hands waved in air, indicating Marcel Marceau's death*

-- equally-tasteful theme eulogies

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Chris Bridges
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It may be just me, but I enjoyed those much more than the FOX Vonnegut one...
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Jutsa Notha Name
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I can't get past saying he failed at suicide. That is not a comment that is made with neutral or no intent. That is blatantly malicious. The attempt to trash the NYC literary scene was also very much unlike Vonnegut, and yet very much like typical FOX News. FOX and / or Rosen may not like it, but the New York scene is far from irrelevant, and in many ways is more relevant than both Washington and Hollywood. Rosen spoke the whole piece with an air of sour grapes. I have yet to see anyone actually give a reason why they think otherwise based on the text I posted. I am basing my comments on what was actually said and the tone I perceived in Rosen's voice. Can an alternate interpretation please do the same?
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Scott R
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After giving it about ten minutes of thought, here's what I decided:

That wasn't an obituary.

That was an opinion/editorial piece, explaining to viewers of Fox why they should not honor Vonnegut's death. It was couched in political, derogatory language; it minimalized the impact Vonnegut supposedly had on the literary community; and it informed viewers that Vonnegut was a unhappy, failed, miserable man. So, presumably, they could make the decision NOT to care about him.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
It may be just me, but I enjoyed those much more than the FOX Vonnegut one...

It's not just you.
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TL
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Hear hear, Scott.
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Puppy
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I get the impression that some of you are reacting worse, and offering less benefit of the doubt, than you normally would, because of a preexisting opinion towards Fox News. That they are clearly the devil, and therefore, any evil act can be attributed to them and believed.

I think it's a bad obituary, but because of poor communication skills, and not because of ill intent. I mean seriously, who would ever write an intentionally-scathing obituary and expect to keep their jobs? It seems pretty obvious that the intent was not to be scathing or derogatory, but to be imitative and flattering. That it failed to achieve these ends is a problem of execution, not intent.

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Jutsa Notha Name
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quote:
Originally posted by Puppy:
I get the impression that some of you are reacting worse, and offering less benefit of the doubt, than you normally would, because of a preexisting opinion towards Fox News. That they are clearly the devil, and therefore, any evil act can be attributed to them and believed.

That is a dishonest argument. The same could be said of a preexisting opinion in the other direction. You just pigeonholed anyone who would think the linked clip is mean spirited as someone who fits your irrational character.

quote:
I think it's a bad obituary, but because of poor communication skills, and not because of ill intent. I mean seriously, who would ever write an intentionally-scathing obituary and expect to keep their jobs? It seems pretty obvious that the intent was not to be scathing or derogatory, but to be imitative and flattering. That it failed to achieve these ends is a problem of execution, not intent.
They actually used the phrase "failed suicide" during the course of the bit, among other things. Failed suicide. Maybe he should have tried harder? How is calling someone irrelevant not intentionally scathing? Had Rosen ever met the man, in order to make a claim about his happiness?

I think that Scott R is correct, and this is not an obituary. Just another attempt at painting someone as something they are not by the media. I wasn't particularly fond of some of Vonnegut's views, but that's no reason to disrespect him in death. Obviously he was relevant enough for FOX News to run a piece on his death, and for the entire US media to make a note of his passing. Sour grapes from a bitter 'news' segment writer.

"Vonnegut, who failed at suicide 23 years ago, said 34 years ago that he hoped his children wouldn't say of him when he was gone that he made such wonderful jokes, but he was an unhappy man. So I'll say it for them."

Not only does the "failed at suicide" remark sound repulsive, but it is disconnected from the rest of the statement.

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katharina
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quote:
I don't really understand how any thoughtful, educated person could not be.
I hate the tactic of characterizing anyone who disagrees with you as being a list of negative characteristics. It's a poor argument, and it's dirty pool.
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Jutsa Notha Name
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
quote:
I don't really understand how any thoughtful, educated person could not be.
I hate the tactic of characterizing anyone who disagrees with you as being a list of negative characteristics. It's a poor argument, and it's dirty pool.
That is exactly what Puppy did to those of us who think that the segment was intentionally malignant. Surely what he said is no less dirty?
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BaoQingTian
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quote:
Originally posted by Zeugma:
Numerous studies have found that regular viewers of Fox News are significantly more ignorant of even the most basic US and world affairs than viewers of almost any other news program on television... why is this?

By your argument, CNN's viewers must possess poor judgement as well, since those same studies show listeners of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly far exceeded CNN viewers. In fact, the difference between O'Reilly and CNN was greater than the difference between CNN and Fox.

I don't watch any of it, except some MSNBC at lunchtime in the cafeteria, because that's the only thing on. I'm in the category of 'get my news from Hatrack.'

Edit: Oh and to answer your other question, sure, I'd trust Fox news as much as I trust CNN or MSNBC (which isn't very far). There's been enough examples in the past few years of the press making stories rather than reporting them that I've becoming pretty skeptical. *shrug

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Bob the Lawyer
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I kind of miss the days when regular news broadcasts weren't trying to be "inventive" and "clever" and were rather trying to present facts as bland and unbiased as they could manage.
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Papa Janitor
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Thread time-out.

Edit -- I apologize if anyone lost a post because I locked this while they were typing in a reply. And I will unlock the thread in a short while.

Time in. Please keep it cool. --PJ

[ April 19, 2007, 10:15 PM: Message edited by: Papa Janitor ]

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Kasie
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quote:
I do think that Fox News aims to promote a neo-conservative agenda, and deliberately misleads its audience to further this agenda.
While I agree that the content you receive on Fox News has notable differences from the content you will receive from CNN or MSNBC, I don't thin it's because they have a "neo-conservative agenda." The cable networks have one agenda, and one agenda only: making money. Whatever conservative slant you see in their news casts, in my opinion, comes because they tapped into a market of people looking for that type of slant and not finding it. While it's certainly possible that top leadership are conservative and would like to see conservative ideals advanced (obviously Roger Ailes was a Nixon speechwriter, Murdoch is conservative, etc), if the money was to be made pandering to liberals that's what they would be doing.
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Samprimary
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yah, Murdoch goes where the money is. If his viewership was more acquainted with how easily he sells out his principles and his objectivity to ensure the largest possible market share, they would be disinclined to continue thinking of Fox as 'their' news network, nor would they be inclined to believe that Fox news could honestly be expected to be providing an honest counterpoint to 'mainstream' news.
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Olivet
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Tom: [ROFL] You put me in the uncomfortable position of wishing more famous people were dead so that I might read more of those. I'm conflicted about that.

Scott: Well said.

I have no attachment to any particular News Outlet, as a confirmed head-in-the-sand, please-just-don't-kill-us mother of two. I have no real knowledge of, or opinion about Mr. Vonnegut.

I was pretty much with the obit until it ended. The "...I'll say it for them" bit might not have been out of place in an obituary, but I maintain that this particular piece didn't earn it.

Even the worst of us have moments of brilliance and things we do that are, however briefly, transcendant of our baser selves. This thing didn't give a glimpse of anything like that from Vonnegut, and I suspect he was far from the worst of us. Though I don't really have a personal stake in it. He was not my sacred cow.

But he was a person, and even the simplest of people have more complexity than that obit implied.

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Chris Bridges
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That's a good point. There was nothing to suggest why he was honored and loved by so many people, only that he was an author and occasional left-wing crank. A mention that, say, "Breakfast of Champions" is widely considered to be one of the most influential books of the 20th century would have helped "earn" the disparaging remarks later.
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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee (2 posts):
The whole thing comes off as someone trying to imitate Vonnegut.

Then Vonnegut disliked Vonnegut, because it sounded remarkably like some of his forwards.

Suppose I grant you that it was an attempt to imitate Vonnegut.

Do you think Vonnegut himself would unleash that cynical style in an obit?

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Puppy
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quote:
Do you think Vonnegut himself would unleash that cynical style in an obit?
If he thought the subject of the obit would appreciate it, and that the audience would get it, there seems little doubt that he would. I also think he'd do a much better job than the Fox guy, and wouldn't come across nearly as badly.
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Morbo
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I think there's plenty of doubt that he would. But I admit to not knowing him as well as others. I've read 2 of his novels and heard him speak once. I don't remember either the speech or the novels well, beyond that I enjoyed them.
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Belle
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Has anybody been able to find the Vonnegut quote that Rosen uses at the end of the obit?

Because the first time I heard it, I assumed it was this:

Rosen speaking: "Vonnegut said he hoped his children wouldn't say 'He made wonderful jokes, but was such an unhappy man, So I'll say it for them.'"

NOT

Rosen: ""Vonnegut said he hoped his children wouldn't say 'He made wonderful jokes, but was such an unhappy man', So I'll say it for them."

I guess my point is, I thought VONNEGUT was the one who added "So I'll say it for them" when I first listened to the tape of the obit.

Now, don't get me wrong, that's still not a nice way to end an obit, and I don't even know Rosen and am certainly not apologizing for him (but the first possibility I listed is at least a little more understandable, to me. Then again, if someone could find the actual Vonnegut quote that would put an end to it, but I searched and couldn't find it.

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Olivet
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Oh, you know... that would really make sense. You can't see the end quotes, after all.
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Scott R
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Belle:

The reason I don't think that is the change in voice from third person to first. If Rosen had been quoting Vonnegut, wouldn't it have been:

Vonnegut said, "I hope my children wouldn't say, "He made wonderful jokes, but was such an unhappy man. So I'll say it for them."

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Belle
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Scott, you're probably correct. Like I said, I don't know the source of the original quote, so I have no idea. I did several internet searches but no luck.
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Morbo
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Belle, I assumed it was Rosen saying "So I'll say it for them." I didn't notice the other way of viewing that quote until now. If Vonnegut said it, it would help change the tone of the obit. I still wouldn't like it, but it wouldn't be as mean.
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Belle
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I've been searching again. It's driving me crazy I can't find the source for that quote. Rosen had to get it somewhere but I cannnot find it.
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Kasie
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I found this from the AP obit:

quote:
Vonnegut once said that of all the ways to die, he'd prefer to go out in an airplane crash on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. He often joked about the difficulties of old age.

"When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life; old age is more like a semicolon," Vonnegut told the AP.

"My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I'll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children."


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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by vonk:
The last sentence came of as mean spirited, but I don't think Vonnegut would have cared.

Its really irrelevant whether Vonnegut would have cared. He's dead. Obituaries (like funerals and memorials) aren't intended for the dead, they are for the living. And Most particularly they are for the living who are mourning the loss and who wish to remember.

The final line wasn't just an insult to Vonnegut, it was a knife in the wound to Vonneguts 7 children and his dozen grandchildren and to anyone else who might be mourning his passing.

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Scott R
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I wouldn't dramatize it that much, Rabbit.

I wonder how we'd all react to a Speaking.

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Morbo
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I think Speaking is a radical departure from the ancient idea that you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. It worked very well in fiction, but I doubt it will ever catch on.

Isn't a Speaking supposed to highlight the good and bad attributes of the subject? I saw an complete emphasis on the negative in this hatchet job, and so did many others.

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vonk
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I'd react absolutely fine to a speaking of my death. I'd just lie there.
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Xavier
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quote:
Isn't a Speaking supposed to highlight the good and bad attributes of the subject? I saw an complete emphasis on the negative in this hatchet job, and so did many others.
The point of a speaking (IMHO) is to speak on the entirety of a person, both "good" and "bad" because that is the only way to understand a person, and when you understand someone, then you have no choice but to love them.

This obit was in no way trying to get us to understand Mr. Vonnegut. It's goal wasn't for us to love him. In fact, it appeared to be the very opposite.

An anti-speaking, so to speak.

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