For those of you in the business of being inspired, getting relevant news and being sufficiently titillated- I have some bad news. No one cares anymore.
Why? Because suddenly google equals truth. Which in a roundabout way means that the only thing magazine editors feel comfortable commenting on is what is google worthy- which is to say, if it’s not relevant gossip pertaining to some sensationalist outcry most media outlets are loathe on the subject matter. Loathe because magazine editors (and their bosses) are ever so mindful of the bottom line and if you aren’t clicking on it, they’re no longer making money.
It used to work like this- a reporter would be intrigued by disquieting facts, observations and with existential angst they would contemplate its ramifications, its implications and even make late night calls to other writers, scenesters, mobsters and even the occasional politician in the hopes of getting to the bottom of it all. That of course was then, what is now is the dumbing down of our collective conscious and the abatement of intelligent discourse. What matters most is your your zip code, whom you know, where you hang out and who took a photo of you- because we all know if Patrick McMullan can take a photo of you, you are worthy of celebrity, never mind if it’s just pseudo celebrity status.
Let’s take the recent Sundance festival that we we’re fortunate enough to attend. Curious to ask on what was actually going on there, the only real news we got was that it was a self flagellation contest between Harvey Weinstein and Jon Gosselin (who for some strange reason must think he’s a movie star now) who were doing their best to avoid each other. It was pretense at best, an attempt by directors, writers, celebrities and actors to sell themselves out because cash is always a rush never mind artistic integrity.
All of this should of course scare you, because what it suggests is that the denizen of underground and progressive American film has now morphed into a ‘see all and photographed by all’. A sort of third rate amusement show where no one comes to ride the Ferris wheel anymore because they’d rather talk about the idea of riding the Ferris wheel, while all the while preening for the cameras and applying as much candy up their noses. The idea of presenting disturbing realities or controversial themes has eroded because we have learned to like our culture sanded down and palpable in mini croquette politically correct bite form.
Google equals truth
Todays media world has been hoodwinked by plastic objects that feel like real objects, plastic ideas that are meant to be looked at in passing with little regard to their social relevancy.
Imagine this- Harvey Weinstein doing his best to court distributors (when it once used to be the other way) because his ass is deep in the red. Deep in the red because he had the audacity to believe ordinary Americans would be beguiled and inspired by the controversial, the unusual, the art house film de jour, when all they really want is to be instant reality stars, pop stars and the occasional demi god.
That is not to say that demi gods don’t have their place in society, they do- they serve to inspire us with their feats of mad behavior and the scintillating gossip that inevitably comes. Of course there’s the occasional endeavor, donation and adoption of some child from Malawi, but really who has time to read about all that when we’re collectively transfixed by the fact that Heidi Montag’s new plastic surgery didn’t work out the way she planned and if she’s lucky she’ll be able to move her neck sometime in the middle of 2012. After all this is really what is Google worthy, and as we all know by now- if it can be found on Google, then it must be truth, because Google equals truth.
Which begets the awkward question, how does affect what you read, what you think, what you buy and what you might even feel and how does all that in turn affect what the paperback writer, or rather the tabloid blogger choose to write about?
Stop the Insanity
Will media news always be a choice between journalistic integrity or financial solvency? A healthy well prepared meal with nourishment and vitamins and mineral or a quick fix with additives, preservatives and under a minute in the microwave?
Is it a writer/journalist/tabloid blogger’s craft to question the wider social cultural dialectic and the world at large or to simply capitulate and give you what’s trending on Google or social media? Or even worse, what is politically/socially expedient in bullet sound bites, catering to your preferred cultural/political bias?
To be or not to be. To write truth or to write about trash. That is thy question. It’s a question every media outlet and cultural institution has to reckon with. In our case we’ll settle about writing the trash as it presents itself to us, not so much why the trash is trash, but what aspect of the trash reflects wider social polarities at play
Think of it this way- even George Orwell once said at the end of the day ” truth is what you want it to be, as long as you are willing to believe it…”