Thursday, February 28, 2008

Early on in Stephen Duncobe's Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics In an Age of Fantasy, one of the ideas presented is that "Spectacle is our way of making sense of the world. Truth and power belong to those who tell the better story." Spectacle is defined in the Oxford dictionary as: "A visually impressive performance or display" and is derived from the latin word spectaculum which means "public show". Stephen Duncombe imagines the News as a spectacle, being the public show that it is, and is saying that it holds the Truth in world because it gives the public a more better viewing, reading, or listening experience. To describe this act of receiving information from mediums of all kind, I would like to use the term 'media absorption', because no matter how the information is physically received the information and type of reception (listening, seeing) leaves a significant amount of influence and thus giving the user a piece of the medium's essence or message.
In a world where media absorption is a regular occurence, there is a certain degree of choice when it comes to where the Truth is believed to be coming from. We can believe whole-heartedly that Stephen Colbert's Comedy is a literal view of the truth in the world, or we can put the same overwhelming amount of faith in our Government's take on life. These media both present their information in a way that is either too grim and plain like the Goverment or too much the exact opposite as with the intense political satire by Colbert. Though being entertained in some way or another, people cannot always completely trust one or the other since they both have an extreme bias toward their own side. Thus, media absorption shifts towards the News as a source of Truth because it can be watched as entertainment and information at the same time without any apparent bias. The News provides viewers with live, up to date information on anything from deaths to celebrity child-births in a way that flashily presents multiple headlines at a time. One could essentially have the News as most of their daily media absorption and still get the same amount of advertising, music, real and non-real stories, seriousness and comedy as someone who watches everything but the News. Despite this, Truth is still placed in what news the News is giving us solely because it does so in a style that pleases our senses (not just physical sense, but emotional senses as well). With so much faith of masses, The News becomes a source of power in society because it becomes an authority. When considering that "author" is the root word of "authority" it is easy to see how what they create gives them power to create, and therefore govern the masses.
In the economic world of today power often translates to money. The more power you have, the more money you earn to represent that power, most evident in the case of major corporations such as news broadcasting companies. These news companies earn enough to money to influence politics through endorsement and henceforth have influence on the government. A huge bulk of news content is government proceedings and legislations and based on what they believe politically the news companies themselves can choose what Truth to tell. This is in the sense of Dream, what is meant by creation of reality.

1 comment:

I. Reilly said...

the general tenor of your post seems to be that truth is a construct that is negotiated through our consumption of different media texts. government press releases offer certain truths while the political satire of colbert or the onion offers other kinds of truth. in our negotiations with these texts, we can negotiate meaning and construct our own realities, based on the information provided and on the values we place on that information. this sounds appropriate, but i wonder how you might engage duncombe's idea of spectacle and how it can be used to contribute something that isn't nearly as polarizing as the government/political satirists slanted news.

what makes duncombe's position so different?