Friday, March 29, 2013

CNN’s Yellow Journalism Slip Is Showing


I came across an article on CNN this morning that reeks of sensationalistic yellow journalism.

While I don’t like to spend my time - or fill the digital pages of my blog – with posts of a negative nature in general, some rationalizing part of my psyche suggested that by calling the article out, some person somewhere may recognize it as what it is and, in turn, they may be more wary of such schlock in the future – or better still – make someone else aware of the practice.

I know it’s a large order - but if the majority of people called out the many instances of yellow journalism/sensationalism/infotainment that the news media tries to pass off as news, then perhaps they will stop doing it.

Here’s a screen capture of the article on CNN that I came across this morning.


I actually saw this article “evolve” to its current state. Just yesterday morning , the article on had a title that read something like “Rare Kennedy family photos released” and a sub-header mentioning that they were taken at Camp David.

They were very nice and innocuous photos of JFK, Jacquelyn and the children. Some were of Carolyn on horseback, other were of the couple and the children visiting with family and friends and a couple of them showed a young JFK Jr. in the cockpit of Air Force one.

And it is those two photos that some web news producer - desperate to raise the hit count on the article - rebranded the very next morning as “Eerie JFK Jr. photos released”. 


As you can see from the screen cap above, they even used one of the two so called “eerie” photos to highlight the article. Ironically, you’ll find no mention of the word “eerie” in the actual article. In fact, it’s the exact same article as yesterday which consists of a slide show of about eight photographs with some short captions.

It’s total bullshit.

In this context, every photo of every person ever taken in a car that later went on to perish in a car accident can now be considered eerie. Or, perhaps any photo of a person ever seated at a table of food must now be known as eerie should that same person sadly choke to death years later.

My partner George said it best in my opinion when he stated that because of this 24 hour news cycle/circus that has been created, new media is desperate for stories to fill every second of the space that will capture viewers attention first. And that is what throws the doors open to the shellacked garbage that is now passing for news.

The trick is to be aware. Be circumspect. Be not so ready to swallow everything that comes across the screen as valid. Be ready to pass on the paper cup filled with Kool-Aid until you’ve read the ingredients.

The rebranding of the Kennedy Camp David photo story by CNN is the perfect example. There is nothing eerie about a photograph of a little boy excited to be sitting in the cockpit of a plane. Most kids would leap at the chance. Even if that same boy eventually died in a plane crash years later as an adult, it only make the photo a coincidence. What you have in that circumstance is the opinion of an editor being disguised as real news for purely sensationalistic purposes.

It’s an editor looking to lure viewers -  the same way a Venus Fly Trap lures its prey.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Whole Foods Market Says Know the GMO

An article in The International reports that Whole Foods Market has launched a new labeling requirement on all GM foods to take effect by 2018. This is the first national grocery store to enact a deadline for labeling, and the decision will affect its 339 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

While the FDA and most researches in the field have deemed GMOs as safe, the well written article (linked to below) does a good job of clarifying the controversy, with these three lines, "Growing resistance among weeds is forcing farmers to use larger quantities of herbicides and pesticides. A recent study published in Environmental Sciences Europe estimates that GMO crops have resulted in an additional 404 million pounds of toxic pesticides form 1996-2011, a 7% increase. This suggests that GMOs are not effectively reducing the need for pesticides, for which they are bred to do."

To learn more about the GMO debate and how it may affect your food purchases : Questioning the Necessity of GM Labeling — The International

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Schmope. Same World View. Same Politics. Same Funny Hat.

If anything, the selection of Argentinian Pope Francis was a very shrewd political move with worldwide consequences.

Though I was raised a devout Catholic (but wisely left the church over 20 years ago), I find the fact that he will be revered around the world by people who actually consider him to be some fast track conduit to God a sad and frankly, pathetic, plight in my humble opinion. Any person who "'Staunchly Opposes Abortion, Contraception' and 'Believes Gay Adoption Is 'Discrimination Against Children'" is just another moron in my book only this time with a silly hat.

That’s actually a Dorito, but you get the visual pun don’t you?

The pontification of this man will not only ensure continued discrimination against LGBT people around the world, it will increase it. And, please pardon the pun, God only knows what else may be up the Vatican’s big, puffy oversized sleeve.

I know that I have friends and family that will find my words here offensive, but no more so offensive/terrifying than having a group of about ten drunken rednecks chasing you on foot around a few blocks screaming faggot fully prepared to beat you to death should they catch you - an experience that I have had by the way.

Some folks have praised this new Pope's crusade for the poor. As an artist who has toured the inside of the Vatican, I can tell you that there are literally countless and priceless works of art in every nook and corner that could easily feed a village of hungry people for a few years.

It was the first time that I have ever been turned off by a wildly impressive art collection because the hypocrisy behind it was so crushing.


Maybe when the Pope begins listing ancient works of art via Sothebys with 100% of the proceeds going to the poor, I'll sing a different tune. But, I'm not going to hold my breath...

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

“The Delivery” Art Flashback Wednesday

“The Delivery”
acrylic on canvas
48” x 48”
circa 2001
©Michael Sprouse

Today’s Art Flashback Wednesday is “The Delivery” (acrylic on canvas, circa 2001, 48” x 48”.)

This has long been one of my favorite works. I think it’s because of the unmistakable intrigue and mystery that he work evokes both as a painting and in real time.

The “real time” mystery surrounding the work arises from the fact that, save for photographs of the painting, the work has simply disappeared off of my radar. Due to an unfortunate computer crash several years ago, I don’t know who purchased the work and where it has found a home since its purchase.

Truth be told, I can’t correctly remember what year I painted the work, though I have a nagging feeling that it was around 2001. I do know that it sold to a private collector, but as of now – as it is sometimes known to occur with art of a particularly compelling nature - it could be in anyone’s collection in any part of the world.

The only thing that I can remember about this work was that it was inspired from a face that I noticed in a crowd shot from the 1920’s taken in Berlin. In my recollection, the crowd was composed of merrymakers in some swinging Jazz spot. She was standing halfway in shadow slightly further behind the main figures in the photo.

Her slightly askew body language and expression implied that she didn’t want her photo taken at all and that she had failed to escape the scope of the photographer’s lens. Not for reasons of vanity per se, but it seemed that she didn’t want to be visually captured at that particular time, in that particular place with those particular people.

Maybe she held some kind of dislike for the photographer – or maybe – it was love, or even lust. Whatever the reason, when I noticed her face, the rest of the crowd vanished leaving only her and her penetrating and eternal gaze.

When I began the work, I really wanted to focus on that sensation of being part of something yet not wanting to be part of something and the way it might register on one’s face. Once the work was completed however, I felt that the entire backstory had changed.

I suddenly saw her as someone who has just received a mysterious package. It’s not addressed to her. It’s addressed to someone in her life, perhaps her lover or mate. The package may have even be delivered by the ex of the special person in her life, or even one of her own lovers from the past.

Whatever the reason, she is all at once intrigued, anxious, compelled and mistrustful at the same time. She has just opened the door to “The Delivery.”