One Less Monkey

In retiring, Miki Haimovich proved on her own flesh how entirely empty her profession is.

Miki Haimovich did a completely rational and normal thing when she announced this week that she would be leaving her job as a Channel 10 news anchor. The considerable poesy of her announcement almost brought to mind a verse by Rainer Maria Rilke. The newspapers said she invoked "a sense of emotional exhaustion ... and a strong desire for freedom and change."

MIki- Eran Wolkowski

But whatever her personal reasons might be, it is only natural for there to be some turnover among those living dolls, our nightly harbingers of bad news, who declaim from the military or political battlefield, or the battlefield of life, for those who have remained behind in their armchairs.

It is only natural that after several years as a news presenter, you feel your face has become too familiar, your voice has become unbearable and your beauty has faded, wilted, become drab as an old carpet. You have no desire to end his life like the former stars who insist on continuing to act, playing the wise old crone.

But like the plays in which characters stage their deaths to find out whether their beloved is faithful, Haimovich's retirement announcement has proved that her immediate surroundings and the audience in general loved her very much, albeit for a rather limited period. Yaakov Eilon, her co-anchor, declared Tuesday morning that he was "in shock," though that very evening he seemed to have recovered entirely when he presented the news without his partner.

For the famous, that's the way the world turns: In the morning they write that "an era in television has ended," and in the evening they forget that anyone had ever sat in her empty chair.

Worse still: In response to the rumor that the public and the press are fond of Haimovich, the barbed writers, the national party poopers offered counter-pith along the lines of: "What's all the fuss about? In any case she wasn't a journalist." Which just goes to show they can't stand it when someone else gets undeserved attention. All these snobby responses by those who consider the vulgar hoopla beneath them but fail to notice that they're expressing their disgust in an equally vulgar style.

Upon her retirement - or to put it more precisely, upon her absence from the studio the evening after she announced her retirement, due to take effect next summer - Haimovich, in my opinion, made the most important contribution in her 18 years as a newscaster: She proved on her own flesh how entirely empty her profession is. Thus she helped shatter the myth about the need for a symbiosis between the anonymous viewer public and the anchor, that high priest bringing the people the word of God.

What Haimovich has expressed in her departure is: Just as I have left, anyone else can also leave, and perhaps one day the anchor's chair will be completely empty and no one will notice. We are all transparent, hollow people. Gone are the days when anchorpersons persuaded themselves that they could be taken out of the studio only in a coffin.

Of course, this isn't the message the audience and the journalists understood. That message, after all, endangers an entire world of sweet delusions, of which only yesterday Haimovich was a part, until she defected to the side of the silent, the non-glamorous, those who walk down the street and not a single head turns and not a single mouth whispers "Did you see? It's that woman from television."

In this respect, by announcing her retirement, Haimovich has also contributed indirectly to the understanding that there is no weight to the torrents of sorrow the journalists, and the audience, generously pour out upon the departures - and (let us bite our tongues, tfoo, tfoo ) the deaths - of celebrities. It has been proven that the audience and the journalists love the event itself, the moment of departure from routine that creates something that can be talked about, words can be wasted on, a double-spread can be written about - until word of some new event comes along, a penny's worth of tragedy involving some other celebrity and presto: You've been forgotten.

One article I read stated Haimovich "broke the male hegemony" in her field and that it is important that women be "in senior positions up front" to improve the gender's status. No problem: We can put a blonde wig on Yaakov Eilon's head, wrap him in a rustling dress, powder his face and call him Eilona Haimovich.

And we can also go in the other direction: Remove the powder and the camouflage of hypocrisy. We'll discover deep down inside us that the whole idea of a news show runs like a bad play, where the presenter puts on a worried, or happy, or sad face, because that's what they think the audience wants, makes the anchor into a kind of monkey-see monkey-do, and the audience into even more of a monkey-see monkey-do copying the leader-monkey's expression.