If you watched CNN's coverage of the election last Tuesday, you probably noticed something remarkable and unprecedented. No, not the election of an African American to the Presidency. No, not Anderson Cooper somehow becoming more handsome with each passing month. I'm talking about holograms.
Well, fake imitations of holograms.
The debut of CNN's holograms is the latest development in an ongoing effort to make the news as much like a sci-fi action blockbuster as possible. First you had electric guitar riffs playing in and out of segments about devastating food shortages in Darfur, then you had swooping, 3-D text informing us that oil prices are up half a nickel per barrel worldwide, and now, fake, glowing iterations of Jessica Yellin provide us with insightful reportage on how CNN made a fake glowing iteration of Jessica Yellin appear on your TV.
And in case you didn’t catch the hint that CNN was just frivolously flexing their massive special effects nuts, they put Will.i.am in there later, as if to say “look, we made a hologram for no reason. None whatsoever. Let’s interview Boy George as a hologram. Why not? Fuck it. We’re CNN.” It was at that point Will.i.am pulled a blaster pistol under the table and Wolf was forced to shoot him. I’m telling you, these holograms were pretty raw.
In fact, as detailed in this article, the technology used to bring us this incisive political coverage has been in development for nearly a decade, and cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. Way to go guys. I feel a lot more informed about the world around me. Good use of funds there.
You know, Lucas kind of nailed this effect in the late 70’s, so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. Unless it’s about the fact that this hologram technology is actually so superior to the “ Star Wars effect” that, if they’d wanted, they could have made Jessica Yellin look so crisp and sharp that it would have seemed like she was actually there in the studio, an effect so spectacular, it could only have been accomplished with a red eye flight to CNN headquarters or a camera aimed at a decent in-studio monitor.
Of course, the holograms gave the added benefit of Wolf Blitzer not having to actually interact with Will.i.am, but rather pretending to interact with a tennis ball on a stick, thereby salvaging his journalistic integrity.
How good were these imitations of holograms? So good, it turns out CNN had to “rough up” the holograms so that people at home wouldn’t just think that they were real images of people. CNN’s not about to shell out thousands of dollars for holograms that look like real images; they want blue glow and semi-transparent scan lines or you can just fuck right the fuck off. How else are they going to compete with Fox News’ new “All Fireworks News Hour?”
But amidst all the furor of CNN’s triumphant fake hologram technology and other news-related stuff that (I imagine) happened on the evening of November 4, an important point seems to have slipped past the collective consciousness. That point is this:
If a news network, whose only job is to inform us of facts, is willing to dedicate this kind of time and money to something as useless, frivolous, and childish as making a fake version of an imagined futuristic technology…WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE OTHER FAKE IMAGINED FUTURISTIC TECHNOLOGIES?
We may not be able to create a reliable hovercar on any large scale, but we could certainly rig up a nation-wide pulley and winch system!
And what of teleporters? We’ve got identical twins; let’s give their lives some meaning beyond being the main attractions in nature’s bizarre sideshow. Set one up on a pad in Berlin, the other on a pad in Chicago, spray some sparks, add a trapdoor, and viola! Teleportation. Hell, in a few years we’ll have reliable human cloning and then we can all have our own fake teleportation devices.
Tricorder? A beeping box and doctor willing to make shit up.
Time travel? Some period costumes and a puff of smoke.
Laser pistols? Really strong flashlights.
We have the technology, and the efforts of CNN show that reputable, upstanding groups in society clearly have the desire. If all the world’s a stage, let’s start acting like it for God’s sake. We may just frighten off an alien invasion or two. Of course, there’d be no way of knowing if the alien invasion were genuine, or just a by-product of CNN’s Iraq War coverage.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael shimmers and rotates as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!