I realize that we still have a month to go but what may be the likely winner has moved to the front in this year's battle for the Dumbest Local Column Award. Today's Mike Myer column, "Outsiders Just Don’t Get W.Va.," starts with a completely nonsensical premise and goes downhill from there.
It seems that Myer was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and instead of showing the WVU band passing by, the TV host spoke to a Victoria's Secret model. This outraged our local columnist:
But they were doing so as the camera ever so briefly panned over the West Virginia University Marching Band. That was all I saw of the Pride of West Virginia on that network. Fortunately, another one had decent coverage.
Would the first network have treated a band from, say, UCLA, the same way? It’s doubtful.
West Virginia, however, is another story. Who cares about the hicks? Hey, they voted for Trump, didn’t they?
Myer needs to calm down or at least cut back on his fake outrage. (If he did that, however, he would need to find something else to write about.) I'll state the obvious: the Macy's parade is and always has been about promotion. Going back to its beginnings, it was the reason why the department store started the parade in 1924:
To showcase the opening of the “World’s Largest Store” and its 1 million square feet of retail space at the start of the busy holiday shopping season, Macy’s decided to throw New York a parade on Thanksgiving morning.
Similarly, as TV networks have realized the potential for promoting media products and cross-promoting their own programming, the networks' coverage has become less and less about the parade itself and more about promotion. Myer knows that -- his papers do something similar all the time. (A retailer, realtor, or auto dealer buys some advertising and then surprise, surprise, we see a "news" article about the store, a new home for sale, or a write-up about the great new features on the latest model of a car.) In the case of the West Virginia band, they weren't being slighted, there was just no reason to promote them. (Note also that Myer tells us that another network carried them -- if this were some terrible elitist bias against West Virginians as Myer argues, they wouldn't have shown the band either.) Until the WV band gets its own TV series or is scheduled to appear on some talk show, a television appearance in a parade or whatever is subject to all sorts of criteria that have nothing to do with what state they are from. (And that would be just as true for the UCLA band.) I think Myer knows this but making the point about how we're looked down upon by the rest of the culture is central to what I think is his thesis.
At this point, Myer does what he has done in the past: after pointing out how everyone else dismisses West Virginians, he adopts the cult leader's strategy of reinforcing our perceived specialness. Consequently, the rest of the column rambles on about a variety of subjects: the beauty of the state, hard-working residents who own their own homes, and, of course, "citizens with principles who are not subject to modification by political correctness." Here's my favorite:
By and large, West Virginians are tough customers. They are why I never have doubted the security of the Second Amendment. Do you want to be the soldier told to knock on a West Virginian’s door and tell him he has to surrender his firearms?
(Soldiers knocking on our door? Huh? Are they looking for the WVU band? Where did this come from? You can relax, Mike -- Hillary didn't get elected.)
The column doesn't make much sense. Yes, it would appear to have a lock on the award.
Update -- November 28
Is Myer or someone else at the News-Register obsessed with the WVU band?
This afternoon's News-Register editorial tells us:
Band Made W.Va. Pride Show in NYC
Carrying a banner that read “Macy’s presents: West Virginia,” the band made a simple statement to the millions of Americans watching: This is who we are. We are proud, yes; we are talented, creative, strive for excellence and, given half a chance, we can lead the way.
Really? I played in my high school band and it was a good experience but it would have never occurred to me that I was making any kind of a statement beyond entertaining the folks for 15 minutes until the second half began. As Dr. Freud might say: "sometimes a band is just a band."