Then you could do far worse than Idolator’s liveblog of it, where Jess H. is once again kicking ass and taking names. The direct broadcast can be accessed here.
There’s a couple of interesting larger issues at work — while live broadcasts of Congressional hearings have often occurred, it’s only recently that one could access all of them at the same time, depending on what’s going on. C-SPAN and its spinoffs have done much to present the workings of Congress to a wider audience, if unavoidably through a medium that inevitably skews perceptions of their workings while at the same time not truly providing an overall picture in any sense of the word. Live Net broadcasts by the committees doesn’t change that much, given that it’s still an audiovisual presentation skewed towards that aspect of the hearing rather than its potential content.
Nonetheless, when you consider the upcoming hearings that this particular committee (on energy and commerce) will be covering — tomorrow’s being a debate on a new food/drug safety act focusing on foreign imports — then the importance of having such coverage ready to hand, not only through TV but also and in many cases only the Net, is important. That most of us rely on summations and swift reports of such hearings, if we pay attention to them at all, is understandable, but that the broadcasts are there for those with particular interests or concerns to review as a participatory citizen in our society, regardless of how photogenic the witnesses to the committee might or might not be, is important, as an extension of that impulse which has placed these hearings in the public record in general (the amount of bound hearings available in UCI’s collection is testament to that). More, rather than less, is always good in this case, and if someone would prefer to hear and watch it rather than read it, either in print or on the Net, then the option is there.
None of which is to engage in gooey praise for the beauties of our wonderful system. It is an element, not a solution, and hearings can often just as easily (if not more often, by default) obscure as potentially illuminate, and from Jess’s liveblogging it sounds as per usual that there are good points being made that are lost in a wash of self-interested posing and canards, on either side of the witness microphones. But better this than not at all, and for that we should all be grateful.
EDIT: This all said, Jess has updated with an on-point summary showing why it is that hardcore political junkies are a fairly small breed when it comes to following hearings of any stripe:
Well, I think I should probably take a moment during this most recent recess to talk a little bit about what I’ve learned today. One, every time a congressperson starts talking about how they would never try to screw with the First Amendment, you can just pencil in “…but I would if I could” at the end. Record and network execs are free speech absolutists provided it doesn’t remotely affect their bottom line. Rappers really need to drop “we’re just telling it like it is” as an excuse for their lazy nihilism at this point. Michael Eric Dyson is too smart to be wasting his time caught in go-nowhere “discussions” like this one. Academic feminists sadly do not put the asses in the seats. And watching five hours of congressional hearings will reduce even the hardiest man to a drooling, preverbal state where he’s unable to even wipe the pizza sauce off his slack jaw
EDIT 2: Other further thoughts from Jess, on a more serious tip:
Okay, everyone else has had their chance, so here’s some real talk from yours truly. I agree with many of these politicos and preachers and pundits that American culture has taken a nosedive into a septic tank, and I often walk away from a few hours of video or radio bristling with disgust at what happens when race and sex and relations between the races and the sexes get perverted by capitalism. So don’t think my seven hours of non-stop snark means that I think everything is A-OK with the health of popular music. I would be more than happy if I never heard any lyrics about “explicit sex” from “Cameron” ever again. But, and I doubt I’m at all alone in this, my “innate distrust” warning alarms start clanging at top volume when the government suddenly takes an interest in “entering into a dialogue” with those who create and sell culture, especially when it seems to be a thinly disguised effort by people in a position of authority to pressure/scare grown men and women into cleaning up their acts by tsk-tsk’ing them as if they were 8-year-olds. And that, coupled with cringe-inducing memories of the three-ring clusterfuck of the PMRC hearings and the embarassingly overzealous rhetoric of many of the post-C. Delores Tucker types we’ve heard from today, has made me unable to, I dunno, take this hearing seriously. At all.
It’s been a very busy day at work — training new students and all — so I have little to add than to echo and highlight the above, which is one of the finer distillations of actual civic concern when it comes to the arts — how they can dumb us down as much as lift us up while acknowledging that legislating morality comes with its own pitfalls — in recent times. It is easy, very easy, to skate past these issues rather than trying to engage them seriously, and having grown up in a time of hysterical overreactions to music makes me and many like me innately fearful that we end up sounding like those we made fun of in high school when they were worried about WASP. It’s an interesting struggle, not always easily resolved. More can be said but I’ll halt for now.