More true tales of men behaving oddly in (and around) moving vehicles.
January has just come to a close, so Dudes in the News is already late on its 2011 resolution to share, more often, the unending parade of media stories regarding men who behave in ways less virile than juvenile. Today, then, we’ll examine young male inanity having to do with—surprise, surprise—motor vehicles.
KANSAS CITY, Kan.—“Three teens accused of robbing motorists stuck in the snow have been caught after—you guessed it—they got stuck in the snow themselves.”
So notes the first paragraph of a Jan. 23 Associated Press report. Traditionally, the opening paragraph, or “lede,” of a news story conveys the essence of the report. That way, readers who are busy with life’s demands—making a living, raising kids, robbing motorists stuck in the snow—can decide whether or not to read the rest of it.
At some point in the past two decades, editors decided that news ledes should include a little “color” in order to capture readers’ attention. This AP lede exemplifies the trend. Conversationally, not to say annoyingly, it notes that the teens were “caught after—you guessed it—they got stuck in the snow themselves.”
May we be truthful? We did not guess it. We would not even have been close had we tried:
AP: So listen. Three teens accused of robbing motorists stuck in the snow have been caught after … wait—can you guess?
DUDES IN THE NEWS: Uh, after, er, texting their friends about the robbery and then taking cell-phone pics of the victims and posting those on Facebook?
AP: Never mind. Douchebag.
So you see, the AP not only failed to capture our attention with its lighthearted lede, it also made us collapse with self-loathing by calling us a “douchebag.”
Honestly, is there any question as to why newspapers are fading into the woodwork of the global media mansion? Any first-year Harvard business-school student will gladly explain that going around comparing readers to feminine hygiene products really is no way to guarantee brand loyalty.
The online version of the AP report notes that the information regarding the snowbound teens came from the website of the Kansas City Star. A cursory search of that site, however, turned up only the AP story itself. This suggests that the AP’s branding plan extends well beyond trashing readers’ self-esteem. Evidently, the newswire service is also hell-bent on gaslighting them into a state of palpable aphasia.
If the AP would do what it is supposed to do—report the news impartially and without sending readers into therapy—we would have some idea as to how police wound up finding the snow-stuck teens in the early hours of Jan. 20. As it stands, we do not.
We do know, however, that victims’ credit cards were among the teens’ effects. We also know that the boys are aged 18, 17, and 16, and that once they were nabbed they turned on each other like rabid rats.
“Court documents say the 17-year-old denied participating in the robberies and told police that all he did was drive,” the AP reports, managing to do so without further insulting readers. “The documents say [the 18-year-old] admitted being present, but he blamed the holdups on the 16-year-old.”
This proves the adage that there is no honor among thieves. Nor, we would add, is there any among newswire services and—you guessed it—their readers.
HONOLULU, Hawaii—Robbing snowbound motorists isn’t the only leisure activity attractive to modern male teens and young adults. They play online games, watch Jersey Shore for moral guidance, and, in the case of at least one partyish young man, aged 20, hurl themselves from rolling minivans after squabbling with friends.
Such was the case in Salt Lake, an affluent Honolulu suburb, on Dec. 30, 2010, according to a “Police Blotter” item in the Jan. 1 Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which did not name the man.
At one point in the evening, the man and his friends, all of them packed into a 1996 Plymouth Voyager, traveled south on the charmingly named Ala Napunani Street. As they approached a traffic circle at the equally charmingly named Likini Street, the man, a passenger, opened the van’s sliding side door and leapt out.
We would like to report that this was some kind of madcap Jackass-style stunt. We would also like to report that Dudes in the News is a 22-year-old Internet billionaire who lives with his 18-year-old Swedish model boyfriend Bartholomeus, who happens to be an Olympic swimming gold medalist. Alas, the facts in both cases are slightly less enchanting.
The man was just drunk. He fought with his friends. He wanted to leave. He jumped from the van.
And he managed to live. But, sadly, barely. At the time of the Star-Advertiser story, he was at the Queen’s Medical Center with head and other injuries, listed in critical condition.
Although this may be of no consolation to him, police arrested his van-piloting friend, aged 19, for allegedly driving while intoxicated and allegedly failing to render aid. The latter charge, if true, suggests a shocking lack of loyalty among bros, something we may put down to the less appealing effects of being totally wasted.
By the by, Wikipedia, the source of information of dubious provenance, notes that a popular annual Salt Lake community event is the Menehune Classic, a high-school marching band competition.
Perhaps the van-abandoning man and his friends, having long since graduated high school, were distraught at no longer being able to participate in marching band contests. They were left, then, to drive around, completely out of their heads on God knows what substances, and bicker over whose high-school band had been best. Obviously, one of them, unable to bear it any longer, took a flying leap.
Seen in this light, that young man’s decision seems sensible, even heroic. Unfortunately, the “Police Blotter” item is typically terse and cursory, so it does not address the possibility of that scenario. This means, alas, that we shall never know exactly what the young man was thinking, a realization that does little to gladden the heart.
HONOLULU, Hawaii—A man, aged 18, allegedly stole a car and most definitely crashed it into a wooden utility pole on Dec. 28, according to a Dec. 31 “Police Blotter” item in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
You know, people grouse that teenage and young-adult males, glued to computers and video games and whatnot, simply aren’t getting out enough. But today’s Dudes in the News entry suggests that when they do get out they tend to rob people in, leap from, or crash motor vehicles with alarming frequency.
Is this some sort of a trend? If so, is it a worldwide or simply an American one?
We don’t know. Why don’t we ask an expert?
Oh, Bartholomeus …
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.