Picks and Pans Main: Tube
Democrats really do have more fun. For four days last week they treated us to a fancy dance of pomp and showbiz, celebrating President Clintons Inauguration. The mix of lofty rhetoric, patriotic symbolism and sheer star-power sent television into a rapt tizzy that played out like a hybrid of the Bicentennial and the Grammys. The big entertainment events on HBO and CBS were, for the most part, hokey, overorchestrated jumbles. (Lauren Bacall paired with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe?!) The most effective special was designed for citizens who won't be voting for quite some time: The Disney Channel's Inaugural Celebration for Children on Tuesday, during which Clinton talked touchingly with Mr. Rogers about how, as a child, he dealt with the feelings of anger and loneliness we all have. Certainly there were moments, particularly the swearing-in ceremony and the triumphant inarch up Pennsylvania Avenue, which evoked a sense of pride and participation, of continuity and possibility. As always, TV's cluttered environment made for some juxtapositions. As fireworks went off over our nation's capital on Sunday evening, you could flick the remote and see the night skies over Baghdad lit up by antiaircraft tracer rounds. There were other odd moments, such as Bob Dylan totally baffling the sign language translators who were present at all events as he mumbled through (as near as I could tell) "Chimes of Freedom" on Sunday. As for First Brother Roger Clinton lowing along with En Vogue at the MTV Ball, well, maybe it's not too soon to start thinking about a presidential pardon.
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