being reflections on the media and also writing-as-therapy or something
I suppose everyone has some deep rooted insecurity they wrestle with when sleep doesn’t come and which they only tell one or maybe two people and then regret immediately because saying it in some way solidifies it. I have one of those. I’m afraid everyone will eventually be bored of me.
We can be subtle about this. But, as you read this, one or two stories will come to the fore past the hazy murk that is the evening news in your busy craniums (crania?). And that is fair. In fact, even when stories simmer past the boiling point and bubble and effervesce, even in their heat, I am afraid of the month after when everyone is bored. The graph surrounding someone’s interest in a news story is not particularly complex. The event (or the discovery of a past event) occurs and as it occurs, our interest in it begins to burgeon and swell and we find out more and more. Then we develop some sort of opinion. Then we find material that supports our opinion. And then we are bored.
And the people who are employed to supply these stories to us know this. They study us very carefully.
You have a very fussy dog. You have been adding some side-market spice mix to its rice and chicken to get it to eat without a fuss. It eats without a fuss. Now, you’ve been told by your veterinarian to stop doing this to your pet. So you stop adding Magic Masala. Now your dog does not want to eat.
Is this the dog’s fault?
At a NATO Seminar in Sarajevo in 1998 aimed at fostering democratic practices in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. J.P. Shea delivered a lecture on the role of the media in a democracy. Which does not reveal any information which you, being the well read and literate individual you are, can’t already guess. The media is meant to:
- inform the public on what is going on: inform democratic choices through the clarification of complex issues, particularly in an age when information is the driving force of economic advancement and international events impact on people’s daily lives as never before;
- provoke public debates leading to greater public participation in important decisions;
- uncover abuses, pressure for their rectification;
- alert and mobilize public opinion to humanitarian causes/injustices;
- allow political pluralism to express itself by advertising different views/ ideological approaches to certain issues;
- keep politicians attuned to public opinion while offering politicians a medium to explain policies/decisions to public opinion and build the necessary support.
Why is this so obvious to you? Because you understand what a democracy is. A democracy is rule by the people. That is, rule by you. Your participation in decision making is based on your awareness of the context surrounding these decisions. You can’t be in every boardroom and battlefield so there are people with press badges there for you to tell you everything you need to know and you march forth to your polling booths equipped with more than enough information to make your choice. Ideally.
So where exactly does entertainment find its place in all this?
My father started telling me to read the newspaper everyday when I was thirteen years old. I never did because it was too boring.
Welcome to the News Cycle, of which you are a product. In the News Cycle, decisions on what sort of criminal deserves the death penalty, how much attention we should pay to our judiciary, whether the government has the right to breach our privacy and even whether strange, rabid populist figures can rule over us all are made and broken on the basis of how bored you are. Just how long can this one event float on your precious interest before we jump to the next event?
Between the arson story and the rape story is the ice-cream advertisement. Between the rape story and the embezzlement story is the LED-lamp advertisement. These slots probably don’t cost the same.
This problem of mine is beyond a first-world problem. It may even be a millennial problem, if that is what I am. Could anyone from any other generation be existentially terrified of being boring to the people around them? Was my grandfather afraid of this when he was eighteen?
Is this just me?
Have I commodified myself?
My existence and interaction with you is not a tool for your entertainment. It is alright if I bore you. I do not live for you. My purpose can be beyond that or even separate from that. Does your doctor have to be interesting? Does your barber? No? Does your teacher have to be interesting? Does your author? Does your filmmaker?
Does your friend?
What about your newspaperman and your reporter and your TV host?
What does permeation in consumerism mean? What does consumer-culture mean? Do we look at everything in those terms, now? Is the news supposed to be a gripping, interesting read? If a person loves you, does it really only mean they are interested in you?
Entertainers like to seem complicated
But we’re not complicated
I can explain it pretty easily
Have you ever been to a birthday party for children
And one of the children won’t stop screaming
Cuz he’s just a little attention attractor
When he grows up to be a comic or actor
He’ll be rewarded for never maturing
For never understanding or learning
That every day can’t be about him
There’s other people, you selfish asshole!
I must be psychotic
I must be demented
To think that I’m worthy of all this attention
Of all of this money you worked really hard for
I slept in late while you worked at the drug store
My drug’s attention
I am an addict
But I get paid to indulge in my habit
It’s all an illusion
Bo Burnham – Art is Dead
Here we are now, entertain us
you know who…
I hope all the people like this blog post and enjoy it and stuff. I hope it wasn’t boring.