News and Internet Media are considered important information gathering sources for most people. For this reason, a successful deception requires a fairl high degree of ‘priming’
According to the famous French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, the very ACT of putting a specific item on record in the public realm (such as televising a news story or event) asserts a narrative or construction of ‘reality’ can mobilize or demobilize the public by making them believe there is a trend in one direction rather than another (like stories about home invasion or illegal immigration) – or that more people are concerned about specific problems (like nuclear energy) rather than another (such as the spread of poverty). The very act of such reportage bars one from a balanced view of a situation and negates the possibility of deeper inquiry. By empowering anecdote and punditry over a more ‘grounded’ or ‘anthropological’ look at a situation – the possibility of ‘another side or point of view’ to the situation is extinguished. 1
Subversion: What it’s All About
Do you remember the Cold War – and talk of the term ‘subversion’ – relating to brainwashing by foreign agents? Soviet and Communist ‘propaganda perhaps? The term subversion can also be allied with the term persuasion too – the weapon of choice in the advertising industry. The line between subversion and persuasion can be very thin – if not completely invisible. Who’s to say where that line is drawn even? Does it depend on the intent of the person conveying or writing the relevant message? The Chinese philosopher Sun-Tzu said the following:
A Closer Look at Various Media
If it can be said that most people look to socially dominant figures in these productions for role guidance (it can influence anything from aspects of one’s personality to the types of clothing and food one eats to the choices of product we consume) in order to be acceptable to one’s consumer peers – then our tastes and mores are clearly influenced by Hollywood constructs such as presented in motion pictures and television shows and other such spectacles. By employing attractive Hollywood actors we already have emotional ties to in an unconscious fantasy life, cognitive dissonance is the major player and reinforces narratives already presented to us by authority figures (newscasters and politicians). Obvious examples of this kind of film might be: ‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘United 93’, ‘Air Force One’, ‘True Lies’, ‘Patriot Games’, ‘Syriana’, ‘Munich’, ‘Schindler’s List’, ‘Black Sunday’, etc. The films suggested here were ‘at random’ and chosen simply because they portray a political situation in a specific way – clearly they differ from each other in terms of political perspective.
The primary ways that public opinion is formed through television are:
Highly analogous to social programming tactics employed by television with notable differences. One of the more interesting of these is the position taken by NPR, which positions itself as a ‘liberal’ ‘anticonservative’ non-commercial (and therefore responsible) media conglomerate. While towing what is clearly the ‘government/corporatist line’ through stunts like interviewing pundits from right wing think tanks like ‘The American Enterprise Institute’ or the Rand Corporation – or interviewing representatives only from one side of a conflict (i.e. Palestine vs Israel, etc.)
Famous right wing talk radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck seem to have their own dedicated followers – there’s something about the radio that bonds people a little more tightly with their on-air idols. The ‘lone pundit’ such as either of these gentlemen represent an altogether different model. Here, opinion and consent are unanimous by necessity. Dissenting voices are never heard and the Hosts make no claims to impartiality or integrity. The very same men voice specious praises of their paid advertisers’ goods on the air in exchange for money. The listener can like it or lump it.
Other radio based entities fall somewhere in between these two – dominated by the commercial music station model, with standardized and syndicated newscasts piped in from one of Rupert Murdoch’s affiliates. The only challenge to these voices are genuine public radio (i.e. Radio Pacifica in California or WNYC in New York) whose reach is small but significant – but whose professionalism and production are somewhat spotty.
While still a very new medium – very strong inroads are being made to control public perception of events over the internet – as it becomes more solidly commericalized, preference for commercial, for-profit news and entertainment sources is being solidified. The internet market is one of the fastest growing sectors of the commercial world – much like the early days of William Randolph Hearst’s Empire at the turn of the century. While the internet started out as what seeemed like the ultimate egalitarian medium, the balance has been slowly tipping towards commercial domination with the emergence of programs like Web 2.0™ and the SOPA Act, etc. which are privately penned and funded proposals to force the Web into the hands of a media monopoly.
Social media such as Facebook are also redefining human communities – corralling them into a neo-tribal structure not at all unlke the fictional community given to us by William Golding in ‘The Lord of the Flies‘. Communities vote on posted news stories with approval given via the click of a ‘like’ button with no requirement for any sort of understanding or fact checking. Falsely attributed photographs pass unscathed into the world view of members of the social community. By controlling the mode and architecture of interaction between people, such social media PHYSICALLY reinvent the architecture of community. This cannot directly affect what people think – but it can force them to seek approval from peers as well as form allegiances with peer subgroups and engage in time honored rituals of ‘punish and reward’. This way, a consensus lowest-common-denominator ‘groupthink’ opinion can be formed, undermining what was gained from the Age of Reason and falling perfectly into the clutches of advertising concerns.
On Television, Pierre Bourdieu, The New York Times Book Review