http://alibi.com/film/12683/article.html
Film & TV
‹‹ V.14 No.36 | September 8 - 14, 2005

Idiot Box

Must Flee TV

Hurricane Katrina around the dial

By Devin D. O'Leary

Admit it. You treat The Weather Channel like one of those ex-boyfriends/ex-girlfriends you look up once a year when you're desperately horny and looking for a booty call. You never even think twice about The Weather Channel. OK, maybe you'll flip past it when you're going on vacation--just for a second to see if you need long or short sleeves. Other than that, you ignore it completely. Until a hurricane shows up. And then you're glued to it like weather porn.

I admit it. When Hurricane Katrina started heading into the Gulf of Mexico, I flipped on The Weather Channel cruising for great storm footage in between local weather “on the eights.” I, like a lot of Americans, spent the weekend ogling the requisite parade of freshman meteorologists clinging to lamp posts screaming, “This is what 75 mile an hour winds look like!” No shit, Sherlock. Get back inside the Days Inn.

Come Monday, though, it was quickly apparent that Hurricane Katrina was no common Caribbean cloudburst. By Tuesday, the evidence of Katrina's swath of destruction became abundantly clear. By Wednesday, the images of human suffering in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast were all but unimaginable. Flipping from CNN to FOX News to MSNBC, you could see the evidence of modern American society caught with its pants around its ankles. Leave it to Mother Nature--even in these times of war, terrorism and religious strife--to show us what real destruction looks like.

Thankfully, those intolerable images of life inside the New Orleans Convention Center and along the flattened coastline near Biloxi did find their way onto our airwaves. They may have caused George Bush to cut short his vacation by a whole day. They seemed to have spurred the somnambulant FEMA into actually doing something. And they certainly encouraged Americans to pour out their hearts, donating time, money, food, clothing and shelter to the thousands of disaster victims.

To their credit, networks jumped on the bandwagon almost immediately. Before hospital patients could even be rescued from the sewage-filled floodwaters, New York affiliates started a telethon. By Friday night, NBC had organized “A Concert for Hurricane Relief” with the help of New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr.

This Friday, Sept. 9, ABC, CBS, NBC, UPN and The WB are all preparing to air “Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast.” The hour-long, commercial-free show will air live in the eastern half of the country starting at 8 p.m. ET and will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. The concert will feature musical performances and appearances by celebrities, who will appeal for funds on behalf of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who were impacted by Katrina.

Black Entertainment Television announced similar plans for the same night, while MTV, VH1 and CMT will simulcast their own relief concert on Saturday, Sept. 10.

If you can't be there to help, the least you could do is watch more TV.