Mass Media Democracy

Aquarian Weekly 9/26/07 REALITY CHECK

MASS MEDIA DEMOCRACY Everything Is On Camera & Everyone Is Guilty

The Medium is the Message. – Marshall McLuhan

Fun With TasersThe entire planet is televised, web-cammed, You-Tubed, Google-Earthed, camera-phoned, amateur-videoed, and 24-hour cable networked. We’re being watched. And the spies are recording it all for posterity; every ugly, petty, pockmarked close-up in our grab-bag culture is fair game now; a voyeur generation transmitting the distracting glimmer of McLuhan’s global village for our infinite consumption.

Nothing escapes its unblinking eye. Politics. Celebrity. Sports. Citizenry. Electronic surveillance by rabid paparazzi has altered election results, fixed games, and besmirched reputations. Every segment of our civilization is open for broadcast, and once the images are etched on our collective psyche, there’s a disturbing pertinence attached that has spawned outlaws aplenty.

It is poetic that O.J. Simpson, Godfather of News Obsession, is now the victim of a botched audio sting that’s reduced the shreds of his already tattered existence to that of Hugo’s Hunchback spinning in the town square .We cannot turn away. He is our carnival freak. And now, in the tent of horrors…

With the assistance of smirking mug shots and stirring images of handcuff marches from cruiser to jailhouse, the courtroom scowl, and the obligatory car route coverage from a helicopter, there is a nostalgic ring to it all. One has to wonder if the Juice could be slapped with 11 crimes, ten of which are felonies, for some memorabilia re-heist and a sloppy cell phone abduction now, what level of gruesome beheading shots a crafty video-phone passerby might have streamed online had the infamous murders of 1994 been committed in the summer 2007 instead?

Oh, and now I hear O.J. is out on bail. Last time we endured that scenario he was tooling in the backseat of a SUV with a pistol to his head weeping like a soap opera queen. I’m laying odds there will be a suicide and/or fugitive video coming soon.

YouTube is the latest big gorilla in the showroom. Not only does it provide a forum for a glut of free and self promotion, it is also a fine spot to upload damning video of celebrities and politicians. Two prominent victims of the site include David Hasselhoff, whose drunken meltdown made headlines for weeks and led him to lose visitation rights of his two daughters. The other is former Virginia Senator George Allen Jr. and his “macaca” comment deftly caught on tape by a rival’s spy camera, which made him look like the bull redneck at a Klansman picnic. The footage literally cost Allen an election he was destined to win and ultimately destroyed a career path which had weirdos predicting would culminate in the White House.

So this is the main problem with most of the video we see online or on broadcast television; it is only news because it appears on a screen, not because it is a record of an actual event.

A few days ago what police term a “profanity-laced rap video” posted on YouTube garnered the rappers felony charges for terrorist threats, conspiracy to commit second-degree assault against cops, and tampering with a judicial officer.

A few days before that a McDonald’s security camera caught a bunch of white punk kids picking on a black kid because, according to the black kid, he was with a white girl or some other normal kids-being-mutants nonsense, but since the thing was on tape, it has unleashed the predictable parade of race-bating preachers and dung-sniffing lawyers. We only know about this because it was on the local news, the bane of amateur video exploitation.

If only someone had captured my ass-whippings when I was a kid.

Then we have what Brian Williams called “a dramatic and troubling piece of videotape that has ignited a debate on free speech rights in this country” on the NBC network evening news. Followed by a blurry video with distorted sound of University of Florida journalism student, Andrew Meyer on the ground screaming in pain as a gang of bully cops taser him into submission at a John Kerry speaking engagement. In all due respect to Williams and the holy-than-thou stance of anchormen everywhere, the footage is neither “dramatic” nor “troubling”. It was staged and therefore predictable. It has nothing to do with the suppression of free speech, but the exercise of it.

First off, if NBC or really anyone beyond the true democracy of YouTube had bothered to show the entire video, we’d see Meyer step to the microphone and proceed to give an impassioned but barely coherent diatribe on bogus 2004 election results and a plea to impeach the president, while baiting the crowd and the police, who are conspicuously positioned behind him. As he is finally dragged off, he screams, “Is anyone seeing this?”, in a way barking “Action!” as if the director of a film.

Not sure why Meyer needed to be tasered, but I have news for the young man, if he is planning on a serious career in journalism then he’d better get used to it. Also, let’s face it, who doesn’t need 50,000 volts pumped through them when Kerry is speaking?

Further research provides evidence that Meyers’ is not merely a journalism student being suppressed, but an Ali G./Tom Green rip-off pulling a stunt. Meyer’s shtick, which is streamed in living color on his own web site as well as YouTube, includes vignettes of him acting drunk in bars trying to pick up women and standing on the street with a “Harry Dies” sign the day the latest Harry Potter book hit the streets.

So this is the main problem with most of the video we see online or on broadcast television; it is only news because it appears on a screen, not because it is a record of an actual event. The news has morphed into Reality TV and Jerry Springer. In almost all the cases cited above, there was a set-up. Meyer is a comedian. O.J. was coerced into his mishap from a “friend”, who made sure he had a taping system to record the entire incident and then sell it to the celebrity exploitation web site, TMZ. Hasselhoff’s daughter video-taped his stammering and made it public on purpose. Allen’s opponent was spying on him and bating him all at once. A rap video is an art form. A security camera is not necessarily for entertainment.

And finally, this sideshow romp of illusions brings us to the electronic fixing of sporting events, terrible news for suckers betting on these things.

Turns out the most successful and celebrated coach in the National Football League’s modern era, Bill Belichick is a fraud. This strutting jackass was busted for not only video-spying on opponents coaching signs, but also illegally miking defensive players during games to eaves drop on quarterback signals for years, which places Belichick and his team’s considerable legacy in serious question. This would be merely an unmitigated disaster for a sport made popular by maniacal betting, but it is a public relations Armageddon for any game already marred by one of its biggest stars having been arraigned for the torture of dogs for the purpose of wagering. But now the questioned veracity of the decade’s most triumphant team, the New England Patriots, winners of three Super Bowls, creates a sense of illegitimacy to the entire product that is hard to ignore.

In one fell swoop the real becomes unreal. So I guess all those times Belichick and his Patriots made the game’s finest quarterback, Peyton Manning look like a fifth grade dodge ball geek, it was because they cheated. They did not win; they created the illusion of winning. It is a trick of the light. Moving ghostly figures, like Edison intended. We saw it, but it didn’t really happen. It was a hoax, like Meyer and O.J. and NBC and YouTube. Entertainment, not news. Show, not sport.


Not life.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Social tagging:

Leave a Reply