This really isn’t about Hal Sparks, the actor/comedian turned activist, and it also isn’t about the late Steve Jobs. But an incident Saturday on the Hal Sparks radio program, carried on a local Progressive station revealed something lost in this country, at least in the media( Link:http://www.ustream.tv./channel/halsparkslive) . And it is as fundamental to a bygone American media as truth and facts and insight.
Hal, began his program Saturday with an homage to Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder. Hardly a minute into the remembrance, Sparks broke into tears, overcome with emotion as he thanked Jobs for the amazing ingenuity which had so deeply affected his life.
“Sometimes,” he choked back emotion, “we just forget how to say thank you.”
But there was something more in those words and the emotion. It was true, unadulterated, and honest sincerity. I was struck, at first by the emotion and second at the realization that we are in danger of losing the ability to discern true sincerity from manufactured emotion. Here’s what I mean.
This was a real moment. It was a non-political, non-commercial display, which has become dangerously rare in our culture, especially in the media, in which everything is absolutely for sale. But this wasn’t some vehicle to bolster a political point, or a segway to a commercial for gold because Obama is out to destroy the American Dollar. Sparks didn’t pin wheel the moment into a tirade on some political or social ill. He brought us to a place that had touched him deeply. He said his heartfelt piece and let it go. We went along willingly because it was real, and I have no doubt many in his audience were swept into the moment, just as I was.
We are constantly defrauded by theatrical emotions in the corporate media. News people cry on cue. Politicians manufacture tears for the polls or to position themselves against adversaries. Glenn Beck’s faux-emotions are a means to close a sale for the vapid products he is selling(His whole schtick is to whip up his audience to be in position to buy the crap he hawks). It is meant to guilt or fool us into a false belief in theatrical sincerity. Indeed, if that becomes the only food available to us, at some point we’ll forget what the real thing is.
There is a cry-on-demand industry, but that insincerity parading as sincerity only serves to cleave us away from the truth and one another. As the media degrades truth and facts, they render our own hearts as the final battlefield. We battle one another on that field, and then turn upon ourselves. It isolates us, and leaves us alone, separated from our communities and the world.
We’ve got to cling to those moments when there is no bottom line and no tag line. We’ve got to measure against the purposeful confusion and the avalanche of cynicism of our media and politicians those who reveal something true and vulnerable and selfless of themselves without expecting something in return. Kudos to Sparks for taking a moment just to be human.