The VJs have won, God help us
I blame the VJs. For nearly everything: war, famine, split ends, you name it–it's all their fault. But mostly I blame them for greasing the slippery slope that has led us into this media age of the perpetual amateur hour. They must have closed the broadcast schools after they got a load of Erica Ehm. Did anyone suspect at the time that they were staring directly into the dead eyes of the future?
That was back in the early '80s, when, in one huge tidal wave of hype and high hair, anyone with a vocabulary larger than that of a myna bird was put on the endangered-species list and the youth market exploded like a big ripe pimple. Such was the power of MTV and MuchMusic that they instantaneously created an entirely new breed of media personality that was even more inarticulate, vapid, and insufferable than its radio counterpart. The message was clear: we're young and hip and you–and you're an idiot! From that point on, the writing was on the wall, and that writing was atrociously misspelled.
The 1980s were the salad days of MuchMusic. It was a time when the likes of Christopher Ward, J.D. Roberts, and the aforementioned Ehm ruled the airwaves, ferociously dumbing down everything in their paths, pimping huge loads of loud and shiny garbage. Yes, they were true pioneers. But, like that of the doomed crystal wearers in Logan's Run who must die upon reaching 21, the VJ's veejaying life is a short one. For every J.D. Roberts who somehow overcomes a fluffy Huey Lewis mullet to become a fancy-pants CNN anchorman, there's a Christopher Ward–as in "Whatever happened to Christopher Ward?" Or what if I told you that Ehm is now a self-proclaimed "yummy mummy"? Could you find it in your heart to care? Better perhaps to simply marvel at the devastation of which this one tiny airhead was capable.
I know nothing of today's VJs, and, really, why would I? I have only this vague peripheral impression of some droopy-looking pile of laundry inevitably named Zack or Josh, straining under the weight of baby's first beard, or some inscrutably ethnic chick with the squeaking delivery of a 10-year-old. Sook-Yin Lee was a cut above these devolved cretins, which explains why she eventually wised up and moved on to the more dignified pastures of CBC radio. Oh, and art-house porn.
Speaking of the CBC, what about The Hour and George Stroumboulopoulos? Who better than a former VJ to host a current-affairs program? I suppose Stroumboulopoulos must have looked pretty edgy to some suit shambling through a lifetime gig sucking on the CBC teat, but, come on–these are the same people who had a giant mural of Bruno Gerussi in their Vancouver headquarters' lobby.
With its postindustrial "Berlin After Dark" vibe–Stroumboulopoulos slouching against a girder while inviting a hapless guest to pull up a foam cube–The Hour's first incarnation was pure comedy gold. They retooled, but Stroumboulopoulos kept the sassy VJ look: tousled hair, distressed jeans, piercings, and smouldering cool-dude gaze that seems to whisper "whatever" in your ear. You might say he puts the "current" in current affairs. And did he really once call the viewers "bitches"?
It matters not. If you've seen the boobs and Barbie dolls now on many of our nightly newscasts, you know the VJs have clearly won. So if Tony Parsons suddenly ditches the desk and starts strolling about the set as if he's about to lay some Linkin Park on you, you know who to blame.