Friday, September 28, 2012

Ann Curry and the Body Snatchers


I was thinking about Ann Curry the other day when I Googled “ageism.”  Came up with this link:  “Use ageism in a sentence!” offered at www.yourdictionary.com.  It turned up a list of headlines reflecting news articles about people over 55 (FIFTY-FIVE!) who fall victims to cold hearted, bloodthirsty predatory ratings seekers.   

Oh.  Did that sound angry?  Too bad. 

Where is Ann Curry anyway?  One day it’s Ann.  Gracious, insightful, lovely Ann.  

Punching Matt.  Hugging Al.  Touching the knee of the Dalai Lama. 

Next day…Where is Ann?  What have they done with our Ann?   

I watched the Investigation Discovery channel expecting to hear her fate intoned by Bill Kurtis, that latter day Jack Friday on “Disappeared,” or even “Ghost Hunters.”  But no Ann. 

Then I remembered:  Ann’s on “special assignment!”  Right. 

“Special assignment.”  That’s network newspeak for their own particular corporate purgatory.  Ann’s no longer on the couch with Matt and Al.  Instead, after 16 years with NBC and barely one year as co-anchor of the Today Show, she’s circling the seventh rung of hell hoping to catch her breath after a sucker punch from NBC exec Jim Bell.  Rumor has it that Matt Lauer voted her off the fickle island of youthful ratings. 

 What’s wrong with Ann?  I love her in spite of her goofy wardrobe.  When I’m an old woman, I too shall wear big orange and fuchsia felt flowers appliqued on my tent dress.  That, and purple.  With a red hat.   

But I’m outside the 25 to 54 demographic so who really cares?  Certainly not the Today Show advertisers! 

Ann’s smart and beautiful.  And she’s a Duck.  A Fighting Duck!  You know, the University of Oregon.  The powerhouse Ducks!  (My husband’s also a Duck…that one’s for you, Honey.)  You’ve gotta love a Duck!  

Ann asserted her idiosyncratic self and resisted network pressure to conform to prescribed appearances.  Well, except for those torturous stilettos.   

In addition to her quirky clothing, she says she’s proud of her wrinkles.  They give her dignity and speak to the status she’s earned in her family.  Ok, the 14-year-old ratings analysts must have said.  She has the cheekbones to carry it off.   

But then, in a fateful act of martyrdom, she wouldn’t dye her hair either.  God love her, she may have gone too far beyond the shallow veneer of media mandates; the trapdoor opened. 

I know.  There’s nothing wrong with Savannah Guthrie.  

She’s cute and smart and socially adept.  She’s fine.  She’s more than fine, but I can’t trust her.  After all, she slipped onto Ann Curry’s warm spot on the Today Show sofa as smooth as a lounge lizard on Saturday night.  

And that’s just it.  The transition barely caused a ripple.  Oh sure.  There was a flutter of outrage right before the exit door bumped Ann’s butt.  Since then it’s just like nothing ever happened.  We’re chatting and laughing and punching each other’s shoulders all over again.  It’s eerily the same as it ever was.  Cue the Talking Heads.  Oh, the irony! 

Somehow, some way, I think the Stepford co-anchors are at work.  Face it; Savannah’s just a newer model year.  She’ll grow up to be Ann Curry herself one day, if she’s lucky.  And Matt will still be there to nudge her off the furniture. 

It’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” meets “Simone.”  (That’s the 2002 Al Pacino movie wherein he plays a producer whose film is endangered when his star walks off the set.  So he creates a digital actress to substitute for the star.  But then SHE becomes an overnight sensation that everyone thinks is a real person!)   

OMG.  I drifted. 

You can see it’s an emotional issue for me - Ann and ageism and Savannah and ducks.  Where’s a person in the 55-to-64-year-old dematerializing demographic to turn?  MacNeil Lehrer?! 

Sure, some readers get my rapidly-becoming-obscure references to rock and roll music and “senior” stars seeking roles for the mature.  But what about the new kids on the block?  (Sorry.) 

No really.  I’ve got broad appeal.  I’m still relevant.  I have something to say!  I will not go quietly into that superficial swamp of commercial polling! 

Where are you Ann?  Hold my hand!  I’m on your side.