THE MARCH OF THE PUNDITS
Once a film crew set out to document the march of the pundits. The intent had been to capture this unique phenomenon for posterity by venturing deep into pundit habitat, braving the barren wasteland they traditionally favored and the mind-numbing chill of its windier reaches. All this in the inky night that covered the pundit world much of the time. The logistics of the effort, understandably, were daunting. Simply getting to a place so remote, so alien to any definition of life as we know it, was fraught with difficulties. A landscape that might at first be thought solid and certain turned out more often than not simply to be frozen in place, prone to sudden collapse or, deeply cracked just beneath the surface, to breaking loose with an ear-splitting roar and carrying one utterly away. Everywhere in this vast emptiness lay the stiff remains of pundits who’d become disoriented, gotten hopelessly lost, and been given up for dead long since. And dead they most assuredly appeared, despite their often uncanny semblance of still having some weak flicker there behind the glazed eyeballs. Months passed before the filmmakers actually spotted a “live one” waddling about in the distance and showing at least minimal signs of life, though whether that be intelligent or not remained unclear. Cautiously tracking this figure along its erratic path, all the while debating its frequent reversals and long circular meanderings over ground already covered time and again, the exhausted crew finally came upon what they’d nearly given up hope of ever finding. There, one grim and teeth-chattering day, amounting to no more than a shadowy, undifferentiated mass at first, hardly qualifying as a definable life form at all, hardly more than a darker darkness within the general gloom, wheeled a great huddle of pundits, bearing hard upon one another to stoke what little inner fire each still possessed then taking it in turns to suffer the gales that buffeted their outermost ranks and valiantly do their part to safeguard the entire community, now locked in what came to be dubbed “the scrum that saves.” It was this dauntless commitment to their mutual self-preservation that proved most astonishing in the award-winning documentary the expedition ultimately produced. Audiences who had rarely taken much notice of pundits other than to chuckle on occasion at their rather comical behavior (suggestive of closing-time tipplers trying to make their way home without falling down and, when that inevitably happened, pushing themselves the rest of the way on their stomachs), the same audiences felt a surge of strange emotions when presented with 30-foot pundits on an IMAX screen. The spectacle was well-nigh overwhelming. Not only the solid wall of puffed-up determination but also the unflappable confidence shown by each of these “strange birds” that regardless of any differences they might have, from snits of the moment to abiding enmity, they stood united to the last pundit on one thing: Ensuring the survival of their kind despite all that reason might lead anyone to expect.
Copyright © 2009 by Geoffrey Grosshans