BRIGID DELANEY – The Age – October 23, 2009
We all lose if fake stories stop us caring about news and people…
…So high is the media and public cynicism about marketers and so great is the recent proliferation of hoaxes that even a relatively straightforward failure in business, such as the Vegemite name change, was immediately greeted as a publicity-generation hoax. So to marketers and people who want to be on reality TV and those with a new product or show to plug: there is nothing smart or clever about lying to people, hooking us in – and then revealing the joke is on us – the poor punters who dared to care.
The cost of all these hoaxes is erosion of public trust in not just the media and companies but each other…
It goes the other way too. The media is used to make people NOT care at all about some people, with one example being refugees. The two go together with the media – love and hate – and it is disconnected from the reality. “The poor punters who dared to care” are the same punters who couldn’t care less depending on what they are being feed through the media. That erosion of public trust is hemlock to a democracy.
I would include the promotion of nuclear power as the only solution to global warming as a hoax. The media are not being honest about alternatives such as the Smart Grid with Storage and Renewable Sources. It isn’t only what the media promotes and how they do that, but also what they leave out. It isn’t an honest debate where some select perspectives are manicured and groomed to ‘warm the hearts of the poor punters’ while other messages are deliberately framed to grate or are left completely ignored.
It wouldn’t be a problem if there was a culture that included some sense of self-sufficiency (not to mention self-respect) and the idea that you can think things through for yourself and expect to have bullshit served up to you once in a while. It’s about how people judge what is right and wrong. If you take what is dished up by the media as a transparent representation of reality, then you really are going to be pushed around and manipulated by corporates who can pay to shape your opinion (or even buy your soul even if it goes too far as it has in Australia).
Mass media likes to take on a style to make it feel like the image on the television is an extension to the living room of the viewer. Viewers like to feel that the people regularly on the screen are sort of within their circle of acquaintances – people on the edges but people that you could talk with friends about as if they are part of your social world. Its like a blurring of the public and private. That’s why many people ‘care’ and it would also be the reason that many people don’t care about some kinds of things that are in the media. There isn’t really an answer, except perhaps learning how to step back from the media and take a third person look at the process rather than seeing it in an interpersonal second person style or as a first person statement about identity, if that makes sense.