Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Introductory Post, Or: Why Are So Many of These Clips from 1997?

The, er, "genesis" of this project—yup, not ten words into my blog and I'm already cracking wise—began in 1996 when I started recording every day's broadcast of Pat Robertson's The 700 Club for a public-access cable show I was planning that would critically analyze the Religious Right—and let me stop right here because I know everyone just went, A public-access cable show? How quaintly pathetic.  Well, yes, but let's keep in mind that in 1996, there were no video-hosting services like YouTube, no blogging platforms, no social networking media to get your message out—hell, most people still didn't have Internet yet, and those that did were more likely to have dial-up then, so you either had to watch jittery low-resolution video or wait a couple hours for the whole thing to download before viewing it made your computer freeze up.  Not to mention that video files aren't small, and a top-of-the-line computer back then might have had as much as 1 GB of capacity, so storing video files was a bear.  Oh, and DVDs hadn't been introduced yet, and I don't remember if there was a way to transfer something from your VCR to your computer—I think there was, but it probably wasn't pretty.  Basically it was the Stone Age, and I don't think it even crossed my mind to try to put up video clips on the Web.  So, yeah, public-access cable was the only way to go back then.

ANYway, I recorded 700 Club broadcasts for about 18 months (August 1996 to February 1998) before aborting abandoning the project.  I couldn't devote enough time to it, and too much of the time I was devoting to it was spent transcribing the show and fact-checking too many details, and ultimately I don't think I was ever going to put it together into a weekly 30-minute show with which I would be satisfied.  But I didn't want all that time and work to be for nothing either, so I boxed up the videotapes and vowed to return to the project someday, somehow.

That day came earlier this year when I revisited the boxes of videotapes and I realized that with YouTube and Twitter, I could share some of the more outrageous or (unintentionally) funny clips that could entertain/nauseate everyone who's fascinated by such things as, to take the latest example as of this writing, Pat Robertson's whopper about HIV-positive gay men using special rings to give their enemies AIDS.  And since I had a lot of good material (well, I think so, anyway) that didn't stand on its own but required context and explanation, I decided that tweeting raw video wasn't enough—hence this blog to try to make sense of it all.

Now at this point you could tell me that it's pretty self-absorbed to think that just because I have all this video from the mid-'90s, people will care or want to see these relatively ancient clips.  And that is in fact a honkingly good point that is still riddling me with doubt as I write this and prepare to launch this blog.  Is this relevant?  I can think of several reasons why the answer is Yes.

First is the obvious answer that there are people and events from the past who/which still have a bearing on our current life, and you can find a ready example of this in one of my very first posts: Rev. E.W. Jackson, the 2013 Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia, on The 700 Club in 1997 when he was heading Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition's minority outreach program, the Samaritan Project.  I guess I could add some blather about the importance of understanding history, both recent and long-ago, in the context of our current events, but you get the idea.  And if Hillary Clinton is in fact the next Democratic presidential nominee, you can bet that we'll be reliving the '90s again, much like we revisited the '60s in so many of our last presidential elections (Clinton, Gore, Bush, Kerry, even Obama).

Next, revisiting an occasion several years later allows you to view it with the proper perspective.  For example, we're mostly in agreement now that the Iraq War was not at all necessary, had nothing to do with 9/11 or Weapons of Mass Destruction, and ultimately cost us more money and lives than it was worth; but at the time, those arguments were a minority opinion and it never really seemed as cut and dried as it does now.  Or take that time Ellen DeGeneres and her TV character came out of the closet; today we're witnessing the increasing acceptability of same-sex marriages, and the people arguing against this now were getting unhinged 16 years ago because the lead character in a television show was now gay.

Also, a lot of these subjects are timeless, maintaining their relevancy all these years later because they grow out of the purportedly Biblical principles that Pat Robertson and his like will never let go of.  Abortion, evolution vs. creation, pornography—these and many other topics persist years later in roughly the same form they did when these shows first aired.  I could post a segment on abstinence education from 1997 and you probably couldn't tell the difference between then and now, except for the fact that it's not HD and television comes in a wider shape these days.

But don't worry, we're not going to be completely stuck in the 1990s.  The 700 Club is still on the air today, and I'll be watching regularly and posting contemporary outrages, howlers, and other assorted potpourri for your amusement or bemusement (no, those words don't mean the same thing) or disgust.  Or at least the stuff Right Wing Watch doesn't beat me to.

Jeremy Parker
Your Humble Blogger

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I was a christian for a couple of years in the early 00s and I would tune in to an episode of the 700 club here and there. It must have been around 2006 when I had an episode on and Pat made a prediction about a black man becoming president and ushering in world peace for a while. I originally took offense to the statement simply because he claimed that the antichrist would be a black guy; as a new christian I didn't want to be associated with racists and had hoped that the religions followers had moved beyond that mindset. I forgot about it and life went on but when President Obama was elected, it brought that episode back to my mind. By that point I had quit believing the religion but I thought it would be an interesting bit of video to watch again since Robertson claimed this antichrist would reign for a hundred (maybe he said a thousand) years. I cant find anything about it on youtube or the internet. Do you know where one might find old episodes like this?