Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Media Matters ('Matters' Being A Verb, In Which Case It Would Actually Be 'Media Matter',' Even Though It Sounds Funny"

Yesterday, just for fun – because these things are fun for me – I questioned – which is not the same as “disagreeing with”, it’s just questioning… okay, with a soupcon of disagreement; otherwise, what generated the question? – I wondered, before passing on to more significant matters – man, am I ever going to get through this sentence? – I pondered the possible alternative to “Times have changed”, that being, they haven’t.

Whew!  I made it!

And I am never going back.

As a hypothetical alterative to “Times have changed” – synonymous to many with “Times are worse” – I proposed the possibility that the loosening of content restrictions in movies and television created a perception that world had changed (for the worse), the movies and television of the past impeded from showing us the truth, delivering instead an “unreality” we compare with our current reality and thus consider it “changed” (by which we mean worse), the easing of the restrictions being the actual change, not the world, which is substantially the same.

Whoa.  That sentence was even longer.  I need to be careful here or my respected readers will be deluged by verbiage.  And no one wants to succumb with other people’s words in their mouth.

Here’s the thing… jumping over some thoughts I can use elsewhere so why waste your time expressing them here when they are unnecessary for telling this particular story?  Man!  Even that was too long.  It’s like I’m cleaning out the “words refrigerator” and I have to use them all up before they go bad!

Prior to the media “Content Emancipation” the “Powers That Be” established codes of acceptability that had to be assiduously adhered to or it was “big trouble.”  If not the majority – some of whom objected to the limiting restrictions and a larger “some of whom” didn’t care one way or the other; put them together, it’s a majority – a vocal and mobilized minority supported those restrictions, trying to protect the nation from… seeing itself as it really was, or something. 

Whatever the reason, it was seen by many to be a good thing.  I believe the words “filth and depravity” were bandied about in that context.  Unmentioned was the enforcement of a protective blind eye to intolerance, corruption and the ignoring of the Fourteenth Amendment requiring “equal protection” for all citizens, all of which the sanitizing erstwhile entertainment breezed by, making this a much nicer place than the deprived and disparaged contingent of our citizenry of the time might have reported it to be.


That’s one kind of sanctioned distortion.

Here’s another kind.

I once attended a lecture delivered by the internationally-renowned economist Lawrence Summers who, among other lofty achievements, served as a senior economic advisor to American presidents.

After Summers’ remarks, at the end of which he answered audience questions but not mine, I raced out and caught him exiting the venue he was speaking at and I asked him my question, which was this.

“If ‘Supply-Side Economics’ – a belief that lowering taxes raises tax revenues – was economistical bushwah – I did not use those exact words – then why are we still talking about it?

Summers explained that economics professionals are not talking about it, ninety-eight percent of them considering it a thoroughly discredited hypothesis.

“If it is so thoroughly discredited”, I inquired as a follow-up, “why is it still perceived in non-academic circles to be ‘an actual thing’?’

To which he replied,

“Because the media keeps it alive, covering stories about it.”

And there you have it.  A micro-minority opinion – it may not as with the media content restrictions “rule the day”, but still, it remains alive and a viable alternative in the debate (even though it isn’t) because…

I don’t know why.  Because journalism is committed to reporting both sides even when one side is demonstrable “Silly Putty”?  Because as an outnumbered minority position it provides a captivating “David and Goliath” narrative?  Because, having been conditioned by their partisan media outlets, the minority is suspicious of know-it-all “experts” who are not “people like us.”     

So that’s two ways the media provides a less than truthful depiction of the situation at hand – by withholding contrary evidence and by manufacturing “equivalency.”  I imagine there are other ways as well.  All justified by “It’s a business” and “It’s free speech” – the exonerating “get-out-of-jail-free” card for American undertakings, both laudable and otherwise.   

The question we are then left with is,

Being the recipients of such obscuring shenanigans,

How will we ever discover what’s what?

“Look it up”, you say?


1 comment:

JED said...

I have enjoyed these last two posts. While my head hurts a bit as I force it through the concepts you've raised and especially getting through the first few sentences of today's post, I find that my head is happier now that it's gone through the exercise. It's kind of like going out for walk on a cold day. You know it's good for you but it's hard to say the experience was all fun.

I like your two suppositions about how the media provides a less than truthful depiction of the news: withholding contrary evidence and manufacturing equivalency. I might add another but I think its on a different level. My thought is that the media is obsessed with turning everything into a narrative. They need a story to tell and I think they use the two ways you mention in order to do that. Often, there is a story to tell but sometimes, as Homer Simpson once said, "It's just a bunch of stuff that happened." Sometimes it's just some facts like, "Supply-Side Economics does not work," or "Global Warming is indeed a problem and is made worse by human activity." That's too cut and dried and leaves no room for, "We'll have more on this on the 11:00 o'clock edition."

Thank you, Earl. While you've brought us plenty of laughs over the years, you also bring us insight on the serious side of life.