Posts Tagged ‘Anchorman’

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

I like my morning news ridiculous, a preference fulfilled in Chicago by WGN Morning News.

I grew up watching Cleveland, Ohio’s local news celebrities, realizing only later that people on the local news aren’t exactly celebrities elsewhere. When I went “away” to Ohio State University, just two hours south of Cleveland, my Dick Goddard jokes fell flat. No one in Columbus had ever heard of Cleveland’s seasoned weatherman, an early lesson in the vagaries of fame.

Everyone in Chicago knows weather expert Tom Skilling. Oftentimes we learn too much from Skilling.

WGN offers an abundance of delights specific to local news—meaningful camaraderie, reckless goofery, and constant complaints about the hours.local_news

While I typically only watch for a short window, from 5:45-6:15 each morning, the unfortunate anchors are on air from 4:00am-10:00am, the early shift 4:00-6:00am is staffed by those with less experience. Much like a high school lunchroom cafeteria, the WGN Seniors rule.

The second shift belongs to the true stars, the A Team, the Dream Team: reporters Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash, accompanied by Paul Konrad with weather and Pat Tomasulo on the sports desk. When any one of these four players is missing, a bit of the mojo is absent, too.

For everyone up at 6:00am (or before), morning news is the start of a long day. The fast-and-loose nature of local news makes for a good beginning. Low-level hijinks include Robin’s unparalleled and unpracticed curiosity about human interest stories. Regular favorites include Paul Konrad’s surreal Courtesy Desk and the unruly ire underscoring Tomasulo’s Pat-Down. Most often, WGN bubbles over with merriment.

Nothing beats a good audio guy to set the tone. Once, an “Alligator in the sewer” news item was transitioned by the musical bumper “Crocodile Rock,” the talent responsible for that inspired segue is known as “Audio Bob.” I’m amazed by the flair of the audio department, which clearly subscribes to the Fred Norris school of audio journalism. I consider this exceedingly good news.

Naturally, significant news items are covered. In fact, the political and cultural interviews with local professors and scientists from DePaul, Loyola, and University of Chicago are downright hard-hitting, but the gravity is concluded as soon as may be, the mood steadily rising like a hot air balloon.

Local news doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither do I.


By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

One of my favorite scenes in the film Anchorman (and there are so many good ones) is when Ron Burgandy (Will Ferrill) and his group of goofy compatriots are walking through a park, eating fast food, dropping their garbage as they go.  I think it is one of the funniest scenes of the movie, though it is peripheral to the story. Coincidentally, one of my favorite moments from the critically acclaimed series Mad Men is similar. During the first season of the Emmy-winning drama, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his family are having a picnic at a park, enjoying a beautiful summer day.  As they get ready to leave, Don chucks his half-empty beer can off screen.  Below is the scene.

Anchorman and Mad Men are not usually mentioned in the same breath, but I think these two scenes point to a central correlating theme of both shows. One of the reasons Anchorman is funny, and Mad Men is dramatic, is because both exploit the absurdity of outdated social mores.  These two littering scenes have the same message: Times were different back then, and things that are unacceptable now were completely acceptable at one point.  Ron Burgundy and Don Draper were sexist, which was acceptable; if they wanted to throw their trash on the ground, that was fine too.

anchorman-jump There is no doubt that Ron Burgundy’s and Don Draper’s actions today would cost them harsh social, and legal ramifications.   Both characters would be fired for their sexism, and both would be fined for their littering.  And yet, both would find that one type of littering is still oddly acceptable in our contemporary world. The chain-smoking Don Draper would find that he could drop his  cigarette butts anywhere he liked, with nary a passerby’s glance.

Isn’t this acceptance of specific littering odd?  I would wager that smokers walking the street, hanging outside of bars and restaurants, standing by the doors of businesses believe that they are not litterers, and yet, they so often unthinkingly dump their butts. A mysterious double standard exists for cigarette litter:  If I was walking down the street, eating an apple, next to someone smoking a cigarette and at the same time that I dropped my apple core, he dropped his butt, who would get more nasty looks?  Who would be littering in the minds of people?  Most would not give a second glance to a smoker who did this, whereas raised eyebrows, glares, and disgusting muttering would most likely meet the apple dropper. But, how counter-intuitive is this?   Can there be any litter more dangerous than cigarette butts? Apple cores biodegrade; cigarette butts are sticks of fire. It really makes no sense.

So, why the different responses and understandings?  Why is dropping a cigarette butt on the ground not considered littering?  Honestly, I don’t have an answer.  What do you think?