Sunday, June 20, 2004

Info-tainment crushes News Watching the news shows today reveals a world largely concerned with personal gratifications and desirable selfhood gained through consuming ideology disguised as truth and experiencing propaganda and groupthink. Thus we have seen today that whether in print (see today's NYT), radio (any AM talk stations), television (Meet the Propaganda)or the Internet (Sully the Silly, Instahack, Bush-Cheney '04, among many others), most of the “news” now concerns such things as celebrity revelations-often conducted by celebrity journalists (I mean who the hell is this Cojo creature on Entertainment Tonight and where did he come from????), in which the private thoughts of a Brittany Spears on music (chuckle chuckle, I wonder it Brit knows how to pronounce Bowie?), sex, diets, politics, and clothes are far more entertaining than how changing tax codes or poorly chosen military adventures more directly impact people's lives. Various human interest stories, sensationalist tabloid journalism, life style, personal finances, horoscopes, or the spiritual or paranormal -- what has been called “eye candy” (because it is supposedly pleasurable to view) or ratings -- has now become one of the main sources of information about the "world." This is a world without problems: war (we have mission accomplished in Iraq remember?), education problems (all our children are not left behind unless we are talking about the rapture), hunger, poverty, or pollution, but filled with information on the wealth of the rich and famous, of the loves and marriage of those cherished celebrities, their affairs and divorces (how long will J. Lo. and Marc last?), and how they decorate their homes (didn't this start with Lifestyles of the rich and talentless?), Clinton’s affaire Monica (still wondering if thousands died from that misadventure -- no, that is Iraq, I forgot sorry). It is sad that from first revelation of this sexual misadventure to published memoirs, Monicagate garnered far more interest than Clinton's record on jobs, taxes, economic growth, infrastructure investment, or the former Yugoslavia. I didn't care then, and I don't care now unless there are thousands of bodies that we don't know about! While “infotainment” seems only an aspect of television and the Internet, it has also affected much of so-called print journalism for example USA Today that reduces the vast complexities of events to a paragraph or so, not matter how complicated the events or statements really are -- such as how to lie that there IS an Iraqi-Al Q connection! To maintain or increase readership, listenership, droolcupship, many respectable newspapers (the television stations did this a long time ago) have included more tabloid “infotainment” and have moved closer to the National Enquirer reports on aliens in the government and monsters feeding on pollution and that's just talking about Dick Cheney. It should also be noted, that a great deal of talk radio and the glowing boob tube, that purports to be news and news commentary, generally presented by strong, charismatic “personalities”, has become a vehicle for conservative, reactionary, and Neo Con viewpoints and while people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Don Imus, or No Spin Zone O’Reilly may well be occasionally witty and entertaining (and yes, it hurt me to type that last sentence), much of what they report is not just biased or distorted or simply propaganda, but blatantly wrong, and viewers/listeners/drool cup wearers are unlikely to have access to more accurate information. And that is despressingly sad. Infotainment indeed.
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