This is the story about how we as civilization became paranoid and aimless. It’s the story about how news people went through being the voice of the élite to the voice of fear and confusion. This is the story about three little pigs and advertising.
I follow Adam Curtis for a few years now, and in that time I’ve watched most of the documentaries he made for the BBC. He’s got a way of connecting key historical events with seemingly unimportant events and contrasting them, making us see the connections.
What intrigued me initially, was ‘Century of Self’ in which he gives the history of thinking about personality, psychiatry and tendency of the society to control and direct the masses.
Inspiration for this particular post came from the short news report by Adam Curtis, made for Screenwipe, TV show of equally eloquent and poignant Charlie Brooker. It’s a half-hour format, commenting on TV as a medium, from distanced, more critical perspective. Curtis made a report in which he shows the hero’s journey of news reporter from a hero of modern civilization to its modern-day fall. This short report now follows.
This view of modern-day reporter is most evident in TV show ‘The Newsroom’, written by Aaron Sorkin. The only difference is Sorkin gives hope, packaged into emotion and pathos, while Curtis gives only the analysis of the situation.
Western media, influenced by the Internet and democratization of media, have left their job to the public. Public, by itself, is not qualified, determined nor motivated to edit the news or report it. Public is mostly frightened and worried, in desperate need of clear and relevant information. What it doesn’t need is a shoulder to cry on.
In this situation, it is possible to think of the news project ‘News without the blues’ that would bring optimism and cheerful outlook, just to find it turn to usual reports of someone stabbing/killing its family member or certain and sure information of impending world conflict in some part of the planet.
Three little pigs and advertising come in just about now. If Curtis sees the world in state of paranoia of Richard Nixon, TV sport for Guardian just strengthens the impression. Ad reinterprets the story of three little pigs and places it in contemporary context. Evil wolf has wrecked their home, they cooked him and that is that. Or so they though. The story goes to the media and ends up in the news. Ad becomes the model for the situation we are in.
Guardian could have positioned itself as a newspaper with the clear opinion and relevant information. Instead, its promoting itself as a public newspaper, edited by the public, available at any media channel you want (mobile, online, tablet). In this situation, three little pigs have not fought against evil and prevailed, they are instead morally grey, with truth being ever elusive. Truth is relative, it depends on the public opinion and at the end, both wolf and three piglet share the same fate and supposedly the blame, taking us, the public, along for the ride.
Current place of the media is uncertain. This is especially true for the newspapers, but the stories we tell ourselves make our reality and mythology and wider context act as an amplifier of this reality. Transparency to the public is one thing, but letting the reigns to the public totally another thing. What we end up is once serious News channel being reduced to this:
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