Media Goo Goo, Media Ga Ga

Last week I wrote a couple of posts (which will not, for some arcane reason, be linked into this one- Moss Grows Fat… Parts 1 and 2, if you’re interested) that could, in part, be construed as a defence of media- in particular, investigative print (and online) journalism.  This week I honestly feel like rescinding even that tentative support.

Holy cows.

Yes.  A couple had a baby.  They are experiencing the joys of first-time parenthood and seem to be handling it all beautifully.  In this case ‘it all’ includes constant and invasive and ridiculous media presence.

Seriously.

I have absolutely nothing against William and Kate- or the British monarchy, for that matter.  I am Canadian, and I’m okay with our historical connection to Britain and its kings and queens.

My issue lies completely with the media (speaking in BROAD generalizations here)- and the way it is allowing itself to be used by our political establishments.  And since it’s not the first time- even very recently- that this has come up, I can’t not comment on what’s going on.

Even the venerable CBC has spent an inordinate amount of time discussing this child (it was a topic on Power and Politics with Evan last evening.  Sigh).  The morning show on CBC News Network (which is, admittedly, more about headlines than stories with any depth) was all about the Royals going home and the first visit of Her Majesty, Great-Grandma.

Jebus.

Enough already.

A friend of mine recently commented that the media is completely responsible for the fluff that dominates our airwaves these days.  While I would never consider myself a conspiracy theorist, I have to say that there is insidious behind-the-scenes governmental/social leadership culpability when you boil the phenomenon (this domination of non-news in our news feeds) down to its source.

The powers that be- Municipal, Provincial (or State), Federal and religious- ALL benefit from an ignorant populace.  The more that we are sedated by mind-numbingly terrible television shows and junky celebrity magazines, the less attention we tend to pay to issues of any import.

My personal beef is with the fact that no one seems to read anymore.  Granted, complaining about non-readers (and lack of reading comprehension) on a writing site seems counterintuitive at best.  Venting about such things in a forum that features writers -often writing about the great things that they’ve read- does amount to preaching to the choir.  But it is my hope that there are choristers among us who may be in positions to positively influence change in this regard.

Teachers, speakers, political leaders, pundits and writers with a larger readership than little ol’ me can (and should) speak out about the lack of critical reading skills- and, by extension, listening skills (for those who still refuse to look at anything in print format)- and encourage those closest to them to actually think about the stuff they are exposed to (in whichever forum that they prefer).

We have myriad means of communicating with one another.  I have spent most of a lifetime examining the ways in which we communicate with one another, and the ways in which those methods of communication are often controlled and manipulated.

Humanity’s myths are frequently propagandist.  Propagandist techniques include such things as scapegoating and demonizing the enemy (for a full list see that bastion of all knowledge, Wikipedia) Such myths are means of establishing and maintaining order and are designed to be intentional societal scripts.  Some of these stories are self-aware and clear in this intent.  Others are more insidious.  We have to remain vigilant in order that we not fall under the lulling spell of some of our imposed scripts- including the idea that mindlessly watching television programs about hillbillies and rich ‘celebutantes’ is a deserved reward for how hard we have to work each day to keep body and soul with roofs over our heads and food in our bellies.

There are people speaking out about this manipulation of the media as a means of continuing the imposition of willful ignorance that seems to be the norm these days.  Bill Moyers is among my favourite voices crying in the wilderness of this reality.  With Marty Kaplan (the founder and Director of the Norman Lear Centre which studies the impact of entertainment on society) he frequently discusses such topics as media and political systems as ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’, and how the mainstream media purposely avoids discussions of important issues such as climate change, and the lack of general outcry as the distance and divide between the very wealthy and everyone else continues to grow at an alarming rate.

There are others.  Not all television or journalism is skewed toward the ridiculous or inconsequential in the grander scheme of things.  Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart (and lately, in his absence, John Oliver), Louis C.K., Lewis Black, Rick Mercer, the cast of This Hour Has 22 Minutes… all these good folks illustrate the folly of drinking the Kool-Aid our mainstream media is trying to force-feed us on a moment-by-moment basis.  Our comedians are providing us with more coverage of important local and world events than our news outlets.

We are being manipulated.

Of this there can be no doubt.

We have to pay closer, critical attention to the mythological scripts that are being presented to us, and make informed decisions about what we are willing to stand for from our media and our leaders.  We can’t sit in apathy and complacency while allowing the propaganda to distract us from taking stands and making changes when they are required.

An arguably important baby has been born.  Let’s react to this bit of news by ridding ourselves of the infantilizing effects of media and political propaganda.

Time to grow up.

(All that said, a very Happy Birthday to young Master ‘no name as yet’  (update: George Alexander Louis) of Cambridge.  May he grow up to become a leader worthy of his history and a positive force in the world he will inherit).

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14 comments on “Media Goo Goo, Media Ga Ga

  1. Parton says:

    BRAVO! Keep tilting at the windmills. It would be excellent were you able to monetize this tilting.
    R. Toronto

  2. colemining says:

    Thanks R. And thanks for reading! There will always be windmills, and where there are windmills, that’s where I can be found. Quixotic doesn’t begin to describe me!

  3. […] other day I wrote about being frustrated with the lack of reading- especially critical reading- skills that I seem […]

  4. BigLizzy says:

    Excellent post! I particularly like and completely agree with your statement: “The more that we are sedated by mind-numbingly terrible television shows and junky celebrity magazines, the less attention we tend to pay to issues of any import.” So true! It does seem like there is a “plan” to keep people distracted and sedated with idiocy. We don’t even teach critical thinking in schools any more. Alas, the other “George”, Mr. Orwell was right. About everything. Humans are dangerous. Especially ones who do not think (and read). This is a great blog. I will follow, but only because I have consciously, with full awareness and critical thinking intact, decided to do so. Oh, and thanks so much for liking BigBodyBeautiful. Keep rockin’ on with your truth, dude. 🙂

    • colemining says:

      Thanks for the follow and your comment! Glad that the decision to do so was made with critical analysis and open eyes. ;P

      I do have a tendency to ‘profess’ (such is the curse of the former lecturer), but all thoughts contained herein are offered as things to think about and analyse for oneself, and nothing should be regarded as dogmatic or doctrinal. That would be completely purpose-defeating!

      I am genuinely terrified by the lack of critical thinking ability- or even interest- displayed by far too many people. As I said, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but keeping us ignorant is benefitting someone- and it sure as hell isn’t us regular members of society.

      Thanks again!

  5. […] I have ranted about the media a few times before (most recently here) and I understand that it is our job as responsible individuals to pick and choose which news […]

  6. […] most stories (religious, political, folkloric, legendary) cautionary tales are often used for propagandist purposes- to further the agendas of the people in power or as a means of exerting and maintaining control […]

  7. […] I’ve mentioned this, and my belief that it is a conscious technique being employed by our governments- with the complicity of the media moguls- to keep the population anesthetized to the mess that is the world (and the country, and the province, and the city), before. […]

  8. […] at the very heart of a number of the things that I have mentioned here, in this forum, in the past.  We aren’t critical enough in our thinking or analytical enough in our responses to the […]

  9. […] know, I’ve used this graphic before (this one is smaller and a different colour, though).  And I do admit to a little fatigue with […]

  10. A quick comment here, Cole, while I follow the links in your latest post.
    As more than a passing nod to undermine mainstream media’s attempts to determine opinion rather than to inform, my current class are engaged in weekly debates on issues arising through Rights Respecting. I wasn’t sure how they would cope with both the research and presentation but they’ve all pretty much blown me away.
    Some of them have really delved into the pros and cons on a variety of topics and been able to present their case and answer questions arising.
    The refugee crisis was one of the topics. A number of children held opinions that were essentially their parents’ as influenced by media. ‘They want our homes/jobs/a free ride/to attack us.’
    By the time the teams had done their research, and taken into account some global issues/humanitarian factors, opinion began to change.
    These children are all around ten years old, very mixed social backgrounds, ethnic variety and some with learning difficulties.
    One of them has acted as chairperson, another videoing the debates for later analysis, four on each team and the rest of the class as audience.
    At the end of the first debate one of the boys, a real smart cookie, wanted to know how he could do this for a job! He suggested lawyer, I suggested politician. Not that I would wish that on my worst enemy but how great would it be if young minds, engaged from the earliest years in social awareness, became the leaders of the future?
    The children themselves are now offering subjects for debate – Animal Rights, Causes of Violence in Society, Privacy Rights versus Protection. A suggestion box is bein filled daily. The kids want to talk about issues that they see as being important to their lives and, I guess, they rarely have their opinions listened to.
    My biggest challenge is keeping my mouth shut (!) and only wading in to help keep things on track as the chairperson’s job seems to be the most difficult for some.
    Didn’t turn out to be such a quick comment, after all! :/

    • colemining says:

      First of all- how lucky are these children to have you for a teacher? Secondly, can we elect that wee child now, please?

      If these children, at the ripe ol’ age of ten, are that engaged- and coming up with such weighty matters for discussion without prompting- then I have to admit that I’m pretty stoked about the younger generations. We have to do a better job of listening to what they have to say.

      And seriously. I want to be in your class. xo

      • The great thing is, Cole, we’re back to having the freedom to do lessons like this, having moved away from the more rigid, timetabled structure that was in place for a number of years. (Not that we couldn’t work around the strictures 😉 but now it’s approved). Kids never fail to surprise me with what goes on in their minds. Giving them the opportunity to voice them is a privilege. I do hope D and any number of others from that class and all classes and schools keep engaged in the thought process, analyse and speak out. What a world that could be. 🙂

      • colemining says:

        I’m sure that my sister- among other elementary teachers- wishes things were the same here. I know she does her best to inspire thought outside of the prescribed curriculum, but the freedom to do so is limited.

        With teachers like you (and my baby sis) this generation has the best possible start toward changing the world. Kudos to all of you. xo

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