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A Great Moment in Live Morning TV

Posted April 07, 2017
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There was an absolutely GREAT moment on CBS This Morning. 

Usually, morning news is mostly pap, particularly in the second hour.  When they have a guest from a running TV series, it is generally to pimp the series.  This seemed to be the case this morning when Rupert Friend, the star of Homeland, which airs on Showtime, (which is a subsidiary of CBS!).

Friend was there to pimp the exciting 'season finale', entitled 'The Horrors of War'.  

They asked him the usual softball questions, but then, to the absolute astonishment of everyone, Friend proceeded to recite Wilfred Owens' World War 1 poem - Dulce et Decorum Est - with Latin! no less.

It went on for 2-3 minutes, which in live TV is a LIFETIME.  One can only imagine the control room, wondering WHEN this will END?? The director had no idea what to do, so he kept cutting from Charlie's face to Nora to Gayle, all clearly frozen in shock.

Ironically, Dulce et Decorum Est is about a REAL WAR, not a TV one. And it is incredibly moving.  But poetry, on morning TV?  Live?  It was just great.

Many years ago, I saw somethig equally interesting.  Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, one of my favorite books, was a guest on The Today Show with Bryant Gumbal.  The book, of course, is all about the superficial banality of TV.  Gumbal asked Postman a question, the camera turned to Postman, but Postman just sat there like a stone.  

The minutes ticked by.  A sweat broke out on Gumbal's forehead.  Finally, Gumbal turned to Postman and said, "Professor Postman?"

Postman looked annoyed.  

"I'm thinking!" he said.

Something you are not supposed to do on live TV!

Like reading poems.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Wilfred Owen1893 - 1918

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


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