Monday, March 14, 2011

This way to the egress

So it's all about slick images. Attitude and Latitude. Style and Sensationalism.
Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth.
Are we being at best nudged, at worst tricked into what we believe? These readings would make it seem so. We are a people of style. A people sustained by entertainment. If it is not sensationalistic or entertaining, we turn away from the served dish. This is why the media cover these image events, be it Greenpeace or the Westboro Church. The reason it is news is because it is sensationalistic. We need to be entertained. We need these images to evoke emotions from us. Even in today's networked society, I doubt Fred Phelps could get the funding necessary to stage his disgusting protests without the media coverage. How easy it would be to essentially kill his hatred by simply not covering it. I applaud the newsroom here for not covering him, but you are the lone dissenter when even the Supreme Court covers it.
While I agree with much of what is discussed in these articles, I do not think it is quite as fatalistic as these authors make it seem, especially Postman. I just needed to grab your attention so you would read this far down :) Postman implies that media, due to its entertainment factor, has hijacked our religious, civic, and familiar duties. Perhaps it has, but I do not think that that means we are children of a lesser god. Maybe the fact that something is entertaining is a way to get more people to pay attention. Get more people involved in civic, religious and family duties. One quote in particular led me to believe that Postman has it wrong: "No one goes to a movie to find out about government policy or the latest scientific advances." I think many people do. How many documentaries are made? How many Academy Award winning movies (i.e. Hurt Locker) are about current government policy? How many Broadway musicals are about important societal issues (not counting Spider-Man)? How many people will read a popular press book about relationships as opposed to an academic journal article about the same thing. Perhaps the masses don't want to listen to CSPAN or read a journal article because it is boring and the language is often inaccessible. If we are a little entertaining, we may be able to get our point across to more people.
So is there an exit to this world of entertainment, or is it just another trick for all of us marks to do the bidding of P.T. Barnum?

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