Free Markets, Free People

Is It The Media’s Fault or Ours?

Michele Catalano starts her Pajama’s Media piece with this sentence:

There are more people who know what’s going on in the lives of Jon and Kate than what’s going on in Iran.

The “why” has never been more obvious to me than the two day “Michael Jackson is dead” orgy the television media has put us through. And of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this obsessive and non-stop coverage over a celebrity death.

But more importantly, Catalano points to a couple in a “reality” show who, quite frankly I had never heard of two weeks ago, as being a greater priority in people’s lives than what is happening in the world. Iran is reality. Jon and Kate? Well I have a confession to make – I simply don’t watch much TV. And so they definitely aren’t a reality to me.

Catalano’s point though, is well taken. I’ve been trying to follow the events in Iran closely for the past two weeks and during that time I’ve had “Jon and Kate” forced on me. Horror of horrors I learn they’re “breaking up”. Time was spent telling me how that has all come about. Anchors shook their head and told me how “sad” that was.

Meanwhile I had to learn of Neda’s death on the internet among the political blogs.

Then Michael Jackson dies. And here I am again trying to get word on a bill being voted on in the House that will radically change the lives of most Americans, see a little of the debate and find out the particulars of the legislation. Instead I have to watch the 15th viewing of the “Thriller” video, hear some yahoo tell me how much Michael Jackson meant to him, and listen to “reporters” speculate about his death and spread rumors about its cause.

Is there any question of why “more people … know what’s going on in the lives of Jon and Kate than what’s going on in Iran?”

But here’s the most important question:

Does the media decide what to feed us or do we tell it what we want to be fed?

~McQ

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18 Responses to Is It The Media’s Fault or Ours?

  • That’s why I don’t watch that sort of TV. I have a TiVo to record the few programs I don’t hate. Control is mine! Muahaha.

  • The media presents what it thinks will sell. Gossip and triviality sell. It’s a feedback loop.

  • I never bother to watch network news and liek the other commentor record and filter what I watch through a recorder.

  • I am afraid that it is the latter.  Way too many Americans seem to think it will all just “work out” without their involvement.  That is why it is hard to keep a Republic.  The citizens have to actually pay attention.  Politicians count on them not paying attention.  Unless, of course, there is sex involved.
    Rick

  • “You will obey me while I lead you
    And eat the garbage that I feed you
    Until the day that we don’t need you
    Don’t got for help…no one will heed you
    Your mind is totally controlled
    It has been stuffed into my mold
    And you will do as you are told
    Until the rights to you are sold

    ‘That’s right, folks..
    Don’t touch that dial’

    Well, I am the slime from your video
    Oozin’ along on your livin’ room floor

    I am the slime from your video
    Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit me go”

    (Frank Zappa, 1973)
     

  • Does the media decide what to feed us or do we tell it what we want to be fed?
    **

    Excellent Question!

    I’d have to say it’s a little of column A and a little of column b. There’s no doubt that the media decides what to feed us, but through us, the market also dictates what they give us. If this trash about Jon and Kate or other celeb idiocy didn’t sell or gather ratings, it would not be as pervasive as it is.

  • I agree with Rick ar #4.. Americans either think that it will work out, or that it’s out of their hands.
    Politicians rely on voter apathy and ignorance.
    Being an informed citizen is challenging, demanding an effort to engage the mind on serious matters after a hard day’s work. It’s muc heasier to lose oneself in entertainment of various types.

  • Then Michael Jackson dies. And here I am again trying to get word on a bill being voted on in the House that will radically change the lives of most Americans, see a little of the debate and find out the particulars of the legislation. Instead I have to watch the 15th viewing of the “Thriller” video, hear some yahoo tell me how much Michael Jackson meant to him, and listen to “reporters” speculate about his death and spread rumors about its cause.

    Merely a foil to take the public’s eye off the cap and trade show   /sarc

  • Of course it’s our fault. Collectively, the American people are idiots. We blame the media, and they are certainly a deserving lightning rod, but forget that it is just like any other business. If people were really distraught enough, they would simply turn off the televisions. Fox News partly capitalized on that, by recognizing that liberally biased news channels were only speaking to half of the demographic. But almost everyone loves celebrity voyeurism.

  • Ok I’ll bite, who are “Jon and Kate”?

  • Does the media decide what to feed us or do we tell it what we want to be fed?
    Given the decline in network news viewership, I’d say the former.  But the pace of that decline suggests the later.
    Be interesting to see FNC numbers for this past weeks necro-orgy.

  • After thirteen years in the public school penal colonies, the child is father of the man.

    People can still think, however, when the chips are down. They are just conditioned and trained not to think.

    I had a conversation yesterday in which I got a mixture of urban legends, anger, and misapprehension of facts from someone who knew that something bad was happening but saw it only through a glass darkly. It boiled down to taxes, taxes driving someone out of their home.

    Thankfully, half the population still doesn’t make it to the finishing room — an American university — where the final nerves and muscle fibers are removed and the Howdy Doody mask is cemented in place for the final journey into the endless echo chamber of horsesh!t.

  • “Jon and Kate” live in the next county over from me.  It’s about about 20 minutes away, but it might as well be 2 million miles away.
    I’ve been catching bits and pieces of this “freak show” for a few months now on the tube and finally had to ask ..
    Who are these people and why should I care ?
    I now know who they are, but I still don’t care.  … I’ve begun to find out that I’m not alone.

  • Perhaps it was the passage of Waxman-Markey that triggered Michael Jackson’s heart attack.
    I’m sure that it will trigger a few.

  • There was an experiment done by political scientists where survey takers first watched a news segment on TV in  a waiting room. The news program was doctored, one as placebo, one that emphasized defense issues. Guess what happened to the surveys people filled out?
    It showed that the news does not just “reflect” opinion but can shape it.
     

  • pedro didn’t know who ‘jon and kate’ were either until a couple of days ago.  pedro was laughed at for not knowing.   when it was explained to pedro,  who is going through a real-life divorce of his as he types,  pedro was very confused.  why would anyone want to watch this merde? have they no lives of their own?
     
    senor bruce’s question was rhetorical,  zee teevee honchos put whatever pap on that will bring in the advertising revenue. nothing else matters.
     

  • Perhaps a good analogy is the way Iranian elections are structured, where the head honcho hand picks from a slate of hundreds a few candidates whom he feels are appropriate for the consideration of the masses. This gives the illusion of choice, while retaining control of the parameters which direct it. As my eight-grade history teacher used to say: the real power is wielded by those who set the agenda.