Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Dealing with the Media in Rome…

One used to wonder what the crowd reaction in ancient Rome would have been if the Christians beat the lions, especially given how their media was so biased against the Christians. But, we found out how that would have gone Sunday night when 5 million people cheered for Sarah Palin’s Alaska while the rest of the media was still in shock that she would even dare step into the arena. Despite all the media hits leading up to the airing of the show, the lions never stood a chance.

Renee James at the Daily Caller takes on the modern media by using Parker – Spitzer and Sarah Palin’s Alaska as examples of what’s wrong with the media when people who should supposedly “fade out of the national consciousness” are given a forum from which “you can’t be missed if you never go away.”

A commenter, goldie, stands up for Sarah Palin and calls James’ column “boneheaded.” Yes it is boneheaded to use a piece like that to criticize Palin especially since James is making a more valid point about the game rather than the player. She starts from a good point, but just doesn’t go into why it is that way or why she uses Palin as her example.

There is one cynical point that will always saddle this blogger’s otherwise positive forward looking nature: we are an American Idol society. It is not the dealer, but rather the user who is driving up the demand for this kind of media drug.

The American people are resilient. They respond to adversity well. They help their fellow man. They desire the best for their families and friends. But if there is one thing that will cause me to stumble into the room of intellectual elitism, if only but briefly, it’s that the American people are dumb as stumps when it comes to what they watch on TV.

We can take down kings, kaisers, communists, emperors and fuehrers. We can build the best products. We are faithful – we go to church and believe in God. We join hands during times of national emergencies. But put us in front of a television set and it’s moron time at the zoo.

Many would rather be immersed in the fantasies of daytime soap operas than dealing with the realities of their own problems. They escape by watching movies where buildings blow up and people are covered in soot and blood, but quickly forget the reality of what happened on 9/11.

Maybe they’re just watching the wrong “reality.” There’s nothing wrong with reality TV. I love watching sports. The competition is real. I watch the news. The news is real. I watch the weather. The weather is real. Americans can call what they watch reality TV, but what they’re watching is really fantasy TV. They’d rather be on the Jersey Shore than in Sarah Palin’s Alaska. That’s the problem.

More young people today get their news from Stephen Colbert than they do from regular news outlets. They get their opinions of celebrities and politicians through tabloids and from the late night talk shows more so than by actually meeting or seeing them in person, researching them properly or even seeing them as real people rather than the personas that the media try to portray them as.

Getting back to the American Idol society, it’s important to note with no cynicism pushed aside, that reality is reality. Wishing that everyone would stop feeding their brains this junk won’t make it go away. Just being critical or judgmental will not solve the problem. The only way to solve the problem is to infiltrate it and let some of what our side has to say seep in. As long as we walk the earth, we will always have to breathe its air. Let’s start making it smell better.

Since we cannot end the American appetite for mind numbing TV then let’s at least take a look at what is being served and see if we can’t offer something better. We forget that what’s in the idiot box IV bag that feeds the mental bloodstream is not the harmless saline solution it may look like. When taken directly from screen to brain, the concoction of sexualization, glorification of violence and caricaturing of personas and values that results in our passive submission to the views fed to us by a mostly a liberal medium leads us to do and think stupid things – like telling people that Sarah Palin is dumb because we believe she said she can see Russia from her house or voting for Obama because we think he’ll govern as a moderate.

Junk in will always equals junk out. Just as you are what you eat, you are also what you put into your brain. With thousands of channels (it used to be 13, and we all know what Roger Waters wrote about those in the Pink Floyd song “Nobody Home”), there is so much out there to infiltrate the mind. We just need to get more of a market share.

It needs to be explained to Renee James that Sarah Palin’s Alaska exists because of shows like Parker – Spitzer. When Kathy Griffin goes on the rubber chicken circuit to poke fun at the Palins and to talk about Levi’s Johnston, it makes more sense why Bristol Palin is on Dancing With the Stars. Complain all you want about how you hate sword fighting, but don’t use the Palins as an example for your argument if all they’re doing is pulling out their swords to take on an enemy that has already unsheathed.

James complains about the media culture by rebuking its players. But she misses it by not understanding a game that will not go away just because she or anyone else says so. Constructive engagement is the only way to tame it.

Palin's use of the media to reach out to the pop culture and to non-traditional news viewers is as easy to understand as the damage that was done by the late night talk shows and Tina Fey. It also helps to offset the left wing media's caricature of her as shallow. Shallow people don't do all the work that Sarah Palin has done. In a nutshell, Palin's appearances on Fox News, radio shows like Bob and Mark and in her documentary Sarah Palin's Alaska (as well as Bristol's appearances on Dancing With the Stars) is her way of telling the left wing culture taste my nightstick!
 It is befitting our American Idol society that Bristol Palin goes on Dancing With the Stars. It is befitting that the writer of a Conde Naste hit piece gets abused on Palin’s show. Regardless of what you think of Renee James’s complaint, the existential fact remains. It’s just a game. All we can do is play.

So when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Just be better at it than they are if you want to win.

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