Be afraid! It's Carmageddon!

July 15, 2011|By Luke Broadwater

If there's one thing local news tends to be good at, it's scaring people. 

And if the coverage of this weekend's temporary closure of a 10-mile stretch of a Los Angeles highway is any indication, the news is still doing what it does best. 

Nearly 2,000 news stories posted today included the non-alarmist phrase "Carmageddon." Reports included hospitals preparing for emergencies, residents fleeing town and bracing for "dire warnings" of disaster. 

On "The Colbert Report" last night, comedian Stephen Colbert put the whole issue into perspective. 

"Californians have survived earthquakes, drought, wildfire, Laker victories, even alien invasions," he said. "But this is the big one folks: Increased traffic on two off-peak days. You know what that means: Someone might have to walk someplace."

This is when comedy is at its best: When it takes absurd, hysterical mass-thinking and properly skewers it.

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