Like most of New Orleans you probably just watched CBS's NOLA infomercial that ran this morning ahead of its Super Bowl coverage. The piece... which ran approximately 8 hours long.... featured interviews with the same recycled club of what passes for our city's spokesmuppets in the national press. John Goodman, Wynton Marsalis, Mitch Landrieu, Chris Rose, James Carville, Leah Chase.. you know the drill. It was a beautifully shot, well researched, and well thought out presentation.I think we've passed the point where national media outlets who put in even a little time don't know how to present our city accurately.
I enjoyed the segment on Roots of Music. Here they are on St. Charles during Mardi Gras 2010.
Having just come from loading a float myself this morning, I was particularly interested in CBS's treatment of Mardi Gras. I thought it was perfect. Well... almost perfect. The Krewe Du Vieux footage was heavily edited to keep out certain unpleasantries.
Also I had to chuckle a bit when Mayor Landrieu referred to himself as a "street rat" while talking up the joyous experience of watching parades from ground level. If he really cared about such things, he'd perhaps put a bit more muscle behind efforts to keep that experience enjoyable for everyone.. but that's an issue for another time.
I very nearly cried during the segment where they talked about how important a symbol the Superdome is and has always been to New Orleans. Everything in there was spot-on. It's a shame that we've allowed Tom Benson and Mercedes-Benz to desecrate our this publicly financed civic monument so many New Orleanians obviously think of as a sacred place.
Also, CBS talked up the post-Katrina reopening but somehow neglected to show us the Gleason blocked punt. That's so wrong, I've taken the liberty of including the missing footage here to correct the error.
Remind me again, why we never got around to putting a Falcons jersey on that statue.
So the problem with all of this isn't that the New Orleans brand isn't being kept out there in a way that locals can appreciate. Not most of the time, anyway. Do yourself a favor and don't go read the terrible copy about New Orleans attractions that was posted on the SuperBowl Host Committee's Website. It's too embarrassing.
The problem is that this infomercial wasn't produced for your benefit. A lot of money went in to making this advertisement. A lot of money has come to New Orleans this weekend but most of that isn't going into your pocket. It's going into Tom Benson's pocket and into the hoteliers' pockets and into the pockets of people like Mitch's krewe of talking muppets CBS just had dance across your TV set today.
Sure some of us pick up some of the loose change that gets thrown around in this process but by and large we deserve better than what we're getting which is basically an inconvenience and an insult. Some suggest there are ways to push back against this sort of thing, but I have my doubts. Not while all the people who claim to represent you are working so hard at selling you out.
The bottom line is CBS isn't doing that because they love you. They do it because they and the money interests they represent want what you have. So when I see stuff like what they produced this morning or what HBO presents in its NOLAmercial as well I think, ah, they have figured out something of ours that we've always known was good. And now they are here to take that from us and sell it to one another. And soon it won't be ours anymore.