Written by sylvia kronstadt
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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Jeffrey Bezos is giggling his head off, laughing all the way to the headlines. First the Amazon CO got sensational global coverage of his absurd yet adorable (yet rather creepy) plan to have millions of packages delivered "right to your porch" by drones. What a mess our skies would be, as if the pollution wasn't ruining the view enough. How silly and invasive and inefficient and dangerous. This will never happen, of course. But he got millions of dollars in free coverage for Amazon.

The media reported the story uncritically, with a straight face. They weren't dubious. They didn't elaborate, ask questions, or make jokes. All we need is a few bazillion drones in every state, and that should do the trick.

Now Bezos is breathlessly announcing "a method and system for anticipatory package shipping," an algorithm-based protocol that could ship products before even consumers place an order for them. Mind reading! ESP and all sorts of hocus-pocus (not to mention the stunning presumption involved in shipping - and charging for? - items you have not even decided to purchase). Has no one thought through the gross implausibility and chilling implications of this?

I believe the endearing chortler Bezos is bored, and he is having a blast messing with heads of journalists, who are disseminating his riveting "news" as if he were an "the president's closest aide." Maybe he'll keep pushing the envelope until some reporter - probably one of those unkempt, obsessive types who embarrasses the cool, in-crowd media divas - says, "WAIT A MINUTE. THIS APPEARS TO BE CRAP."

Bezos has plenty of clothes, but this Emperor of Internet commerce has no fear. Reporters are on autopilot. Brainwaves are flatlined. It's like the old days, when we just ripped the wire copy and plugged a hole in the paper, without vetting anything, or even reading it before it went to press. I was there! Ripping wire copy!

Isn't ANYBODY in the Fourth Estate thinking?

Next, Amazon will set up a bridal registry for ladies who haven't quite get been proposed to - but the rosy-cheeked Jeff is certain that this joyous moment is imminent (his Big Data told him so). Young women will be targeted with baby items before they've taken their first pregnancy test. Bezos has ovum sensors. He had too many sensors, if you believe him.

His every utterance resounds around the world, within moments of his hilarious pronouncement, and his harebrained "plans" continue to make news for days. All those retweets, lordy me!

My god, Bezos will think. How far can I take this game? When the spoof is revealed, it will be the biggest news (and free advertising) of all.

I think he is giving us a much needed lesson in the laziness and credulity of what remains of our mass media, after all the staff cutbacks, after the hiring of cheap, young "talent," and after the profession of journalism stopped attracting those who wanted to be real reporters. They want to be celebrities. They want to have a "brand." What they really want is to be in that anchor chair, after a session in hair and makeup.

I have fantasized several times about having a contest with my retired journalist friends to see which of us could make it onto the nightly news first. I may try it yet. Like Bezos, I'm feeling a little manic and naughty. I think I could have Brian Williams describing some totally made up feat of mine - in a tone of reverence and awe - in about a week. "Another true American hero," he would say solemnly. Then Ellen would invite me to her show and give me a car.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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