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 thick darkness that covered the pundit world for months at a time. The logistics of the effort were understandably daunting. Simply getting to a place so remote, so devoid of any sign of sentient life, was fraught with difficulties. Terrain that might at first be thought solid and certain turned out more often than not simply frozen in place, prone to sudden collapse or, being deeply cracked beneath the surface, to breaking loose with an ear-splitting roar and carrying the unsuspecting 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 the hint of an eerie flicker yet to their glazed eyeballs on occasion. 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 life or not remained unclear. Cautiously tracking this curious figure along its erratic path, all the while nearly driven to distraction by its frequent reversals and long, circular meanderings over ground already covered time and time again, the exhausted crew finally came upon what they’d nearly given up hope of ever finding. For there, one grim and teeth-chattering day, amounting to no more than a dim, undifferentiated mass at first, wheeled a great huddle of pundits bearing hard upon one another to preserve what little inner fire each still possessed then taking it in turns to suffer the gales that buffeted their outer ranks and valiantly do their part to safeguard the entire community locked in what soon came to be dubbed “the scrum that saves.” It was this doughty commitment to their mutual self-preservation that proved most astonishing in the award-winning documentary that ultimately grew out of the expedition. Audiences who had rarely taken much notice of pundits other than to chuckle on occasion at their rather comical demeanor (suggestive of inveterate tipplers trying to stagger home without falling down and, when that inevitably happened, pushing themselves the rest of the way on their bellies), these same audiences felt a surge of more troubling emotions when confronted with 50-foot, 3D 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 any observer to expect.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans