27 November 2008

Thoughts on Media Madness

Some quick thoughts on the short book Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture by James Bowman.

1) Mr. Bowman's general concept of modern mass media rings true to me: the media consider themselves objective beyond reproach; that they are objective makes them right (and more intelligent). Because they are more intelligent, they can be objective. The circle repeats.

2) The media are self-aggrandizing in that they push deeper truths or accurate "realities" in order to show that they are, in fact, better than those they report about (assuming that the reporting is about an ideological foe). Through mass production of consumable stories (which Mr. Bowman argues tend to push some "reality" that hides beneath generally observable facts or situations), the media pushes their world view - a world view which sees themselves as above others due to their objectivity and intelligence.

3) Celebrity plays into this media free-for-all in that today's celebrity creates itself and, with media help, is self-sustaining.

4) Mutating political issues into moral issues causes a false dichotomy of many issues. The media pushes issues as "us versus them" or as "right versus wrong" so as to create drama and conflict (both big sellers), and also so that the more intelligent and morally correct media can render judgment as they see fit. Objectivity, mentioned before, coupled with intelligence demands that the possessors of both be morally correct - even if the possessors are self-proclaimed.

5) After reading, it seems to me that the closed-world thinking that appears to happen in the media/celebrity circle masks reality, or perhaps better put, distracts from what might be really important. Why should anyone care what celebrity "z" says about some supposedly critical "issue"? Is this celebrity any better informed than I am on the matter? Who is to say that the "issue" is critical at all; is it simply because the celebrity says so? And anyway, what one celebrity or another thinks about anything is probably less important than, say, what a well-informed friend of mine thinks about the same thing.

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