Candid Camera

by Michel Bessy

CANDID CAMERA ........................................................................................IN....................................................In these days of reality television,having reached the ripe old age of 66,there are times when I really feel overcome by events and what s shown on TV convinces me I m well and truly over the hill,whatever denials my friends may proffer .I simply can t adjust to the silly trash TV channels profusely tip over our heads!.........Judging by the comments I overhear now and then,I m an old geezer unable to keep up with the times....................................................True,the status quo doesn t exist as everything changes all the time ,and at such a clip that few people are aware of it!...........As I was a teacher confronted to the steamroller of the holy terrors that are the sole masters on board of French vocational high schools,I knew there was no changing the course of this educational juggernaut that is supposed to spread the seeds of culture among the populace who have other fish to fry..........Culture,that s the word ,no longer seems the order of the day and the famous diatribe of this German member of parliament came back to me.It ran about this way:When I hear the word CULTURE, I take out my revolver.............................................................No doubt,he was right on target because,today,in peace time,cultural standards have never been so low!......I know that such an assertion is likely to trigger a deluge of protest........I do know that times change but i d like to point out that change doesn t necessarily entails progress and ,for sure, I m not ready to endorse all current statements,opinions,practices,conducts Under the pretext they are set in the stone of modern times..................Nobody is required to be a PHD or a walking encyclopedia but there are limits that are joyfully overstepped that don t augur well for the great unwashed of tomorrow unless some drastic measures are adopted to reverse the trend!..........................................................................................TO illustrate my views,I ll report some outstanding idiocies I was privileged to hear on French TV........................................Both programs were a quiz show.The top reward was 250.000 Euros,but it was obvious that given the cultural level of the participants,nobody would return home with all that dough and all would have to settle for much less ..............Now,comfortably ensconced in my reclining swivel armchair,I happened to hear the host ask the first question.This is what I heard: Two Russian astronauts are currently completing a month long mission in orbit around the EARTH. Are they training for a mission to MARS,JUPITER,THE SUN or THE MOON?.........................................................................................................As things go nowadays,participants are expected to think aloud,to explain their thoughts,emotions,to make cracks and ,most of all to ramble and trot out all manners of more or less silly remarks,that,much to my dismay seem to elicit laughter from the guests whose event is the culmination of the year s vacation!............Time allotted quickly ticked away and the two guys were asked to place their bets while displaying commonsensical reasons for choosing the right destination of the RUSSIAN crew and this is what I heard ...........................................LET S SEE......It can t be JUPITER because I think it s a gaseous planet,not a rocky one,and i can t possibly imagine a spacecraft landing in such adverse conditions.Besides,I can t see how human beings could move in such a high gravitation environment.They would be quickly exhausted,so,we re left with the MOON,MARS and THE SUN............................................His companion took over and took the view that the MOON was only 400.000 klms away from our planet and that surely it didn t take a month to go there!.................Then,a few moments later,he added justifiably that they couldn t go the SUN,which was quite distant and coudn t be approached because it was too hot!..........He,then,turned to his friend to conclude and pronounce the right destination when,having second thoughts he said....."Wait a minute...it can t be the SUN unless they go there BY NIGHT when the temperature would be more hospitable!......I nearly had a fit ,wondering if I had heard correctly.For the host ignored the comment and the people watching the game didn t respond......As for JOJO,my beloved companion,she was particularly skeptical,intimating that the host wouldn t let it pass......You probably had a dream intermingling with the Quiz show and anyway you can bet your bottom dollar that if such a preposterous comment was made it will feature prominently in THE GAFFES OF THE WEEK!!!..........................................................................................................................The second masterpiece was reported to me by my father I trust completely,and,indeed ,full confidence was needed to believe what I heard as it passes all bounds.................................It was another quiz show and a participant had to provide the correct answer to a question that was generally child s play,and it was all the easier as he was granted 3 attempts to give the right answer that would award about 1000 euros.The guy was French,lived in MARSEILLES and was asked this conumdrum:"What s the capital of ITALY?"......The man took his time,scratched his head and after intense concentration said:"NAPLES"............The host rolled with the punch and remained disconcerted for a while .Then he pulled himself together and blurted out"Now sir,don t rush it while he made gestures signifying that he just had to move a bit north to hit on it.................The man screwed up his face in concentration and suddenly let out this mind boggling answer"TURIN"........The host turned scarlet,squirming on his chair as if he had ants in his pants while a ripple of disbelief and indignation left the people watching the show rather perplexed........this time the host neede some more time to digest this haymaker to the solar plexus........Then,patiently, he proceeded to boost the guy s morale with some lenient remarks apt to put the man back on track."Now,sir,you ve got only one attempt left......try to focus and collect your thoughts and in the meantime,his hand pointed to the South with great flourish.......For the last time he reiterated slowly his question...."What is the capital of ITALY"?..................................................................Obviously,the guy was embarassed and was determined to succeed........you could sense the tempestuous churning of conflicting reasoning in the man s head.Eventually,after much hesitation which prompted the host to remind him to make it snappy as they were overunning time,the guest took a deep breath and gave an answer that should go down in history........."now,what about MARSEILLES,though............

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