Saturday, July 19, 2008

Schmuck Alerts: A Troubling Trend

DSCF0387Ever since that goon Kenny Rogers (not The Gambler) went inexplicably mental on a cameraman, I've taken great delight in issuing Schmuck Alerts. The criteria was simple: Accost a photog and I'll drench the incident in pixels, spotlight your unwise actions and proclaim you a schmuck. Call it 'Cameraman's Revenge'. But like many guilty pleasures. my little tocsins were not without their complications. Sure there were plenty of candidates. School Officials, Rookie Cops, Business Owners, Hillbilly Women, C-List Celebrities - even a Colorado State Representative lost their minds long enough to earn a spot in my cyber hall of shame. But along the way, I began to question my judgement - for not every collision of lens and extremity deserves my polysyllabic wrath. At the same time, the sheer number of these unfortunate episodes skyrocketed; a trend that has as much to do with YouTube usage as it does newly recorded rancor. Thus, I'm recalibrating my Schmuck detector by examining three recent cases of news crew stupidity that don't quite warrant this particular pejorative - even if it seems like they should....

To call Derek Matthews a schmuck is to sully the verve of this wonderful word. Dude's a menace. What else do you call someone accused of opening fire on camera crews and firefighters alike? That's what happened in Indianapolis this week as WISH-TV photographer Kevin Hankins felt something hot crawl up his back while he framed up the flames of a vacant home. It wasn't a glowing ember, but rather the projected pellets of a small caliber weapon. In the parlance of polite society, 'That ain't cool'. Hankins escaped serious injury but a fireman and a freelance photog were also hit. Police soon arrested the 30 year old Matthews (and his gun) for the unprovoked attack. When asked why he shot at the unsuspecting scrum, the registered sex offender mumbled something about no cameras showing up when he got shot last month. Hope he's enjoying the attention now.

Dateline: Oklahoma City. It was a quiet Saturday morning at the KOCO studios when a news producer was shaken from his stupor by a voice on the loading dock phone claiming to have an injured woman outside. Oooo-kay! Most show stackers are used to having news stories brought to them on a silver platter, but this is ridiculous! TV stations are sparsely staffed on weekend mornings; executive decisions are often made my folks wearing flip-flops - but only if they paid for the pizza. This time however, a stranger and a woman with a possible bullet in her gut wanted the ten cent tour. Instead, staffers called an ambulance and then, The Law. Paramedics took the woman to the E.R., cops drove the man to the pokey. So who's the schmuck? The guy, I guess - not only for possibly shooting his partner, but for thinking his local affiliate was a suitable place to dispose of the future body. Personally, I blame all those insipid CSI shows...

And finally, a case with real potential: A news crew with uncomfortable questions. A business owner in a revved-up wheelchair. Can’t you just smell the Schmuck Alert? I could - until I saw the tape and realized that - tragically -this was schmuckery denied. Don‘t get me wrong; Raymond Hyatt had no right no drop his seated scooter into gear and make for the ankles of photog Al (Lucky or Tough) Miller. But the beleaguered bar owner had asked the news people to stop recording, offering to answer their questions if they'd just turned the camera off. The crew refused and, feeling cornered, Hyatt unwisely accelerated. That's when Action News Reporter Russ Ptacek came into play, launching into the kind of Wronged Reporter Karoake that always makes me lunge for the remote. What followed of course was Missouri’s most unneeded exclusive - a breathless telecast about a dangerous mid-shin collision, replete with bad acting and traded congratulations. As Shatner and Rollins say,'I can't get behind that'.

Hmm? Oh yeah...Schmucks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting twist on Schmuck Alert...In cases 2 or 3, the TV stations are nearly as schmucky as the schmuck perps themselves.

Watching Ptacek wibble-wobble for the entire liveshot was almost enough to make me motion sick.