Thursday, December 22, 2005

Media: Get Over It And Grow Up, Will You?

This was in today's "Most Viewed News Stories":

More Rings Are Found Around Planet Uranus

I think it’s about time everyone grew up and got over this. I did an internet news search of news stories about the other planets—Mars, Pluto, Saturn, etc. Look at these results:

“Life on Saturn's Moon Titan Unlikely.” “NASA Prepares Mission To Pluto.” “Studies Cast Doubt on Idea of Life on Mars.”

None of the other planets are identified in the news headlines as “Planet Mars”, “Planet Saturn”, “Planet Pluto”. They’re just called “Mars”, “Saturn”, “Pluto”. Only Uranus must be identified as “Planet Uranus”, and I think we all know why, don’t we?

Because if it wasn’t especially identified in the headline as “Planet” Uranus, the headline would read as follows: “More Rings Are Found Around Uranus.”

And a headline like that, ladies and gentleman, is apparently still so unacceptable, in this so-called enlightened, sophisticated, unshockable age of ours, that the press must take pains to avoid sending its worldly readership into gales of uncontrollable hilarity every time they see “Uranus” all by itself in a newspaper headline. Thus, every time “Uranus” appears, the press inserts a “Planet.”

Yes, I know, I know, I recently wrote a play in which one of the leading characters is a talking anus. So obviously I must be obsessed with this kind of thing; I must be some kind of weirdo. But let me ask you—am I the one who’s obsessed, if you people have to have the news headlines edited for you so you don’t burst out into sophomoric snorts every time there’s a story about you-know-what?

And there is no known cure for this. Regardless of your age, faith, or level of education, you will burst into contagious flames of laughter at the mere mention of Uranus in a headline, and collapse into a quaking jelly of giggles as you read on in the story and find out that the “faint, dusty rings orbit outside of Uranus' previously known rings, but within the orbits of its large moons.”

Get over it. People have been making jokes about Uranus ever since it was discovered. The funniest routine was already done, long ago, by two British comedians back in the seventies. The two comics are standing by an open window at night, adjusting a telescope so that they can study the stars. Comic One: “I think I’ll take a peep at Uranus.” Comic Two: “I’d like to see Mars.” If you read the preceding with a British accent, you will go around snickering to yourself for the rest of the day. Because you are juvenile.

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