Monday, March 31, 2008

A Media Constructed Reality

A media constructed reality is an actual term taught in colleges across the nation to those seeking credits in a particular field of study. So, those journalists who actively participate in the practice of a constructed mediated reality know exactly what they are doing. But to the average hardworking American, who rely on journalists to be just as diligent in their jobs, may not be aware of this practice.

To explain how this occurs I go back to 360 BC to Plato's Allegory of the cave:
Imagine prisoners, who have been chained since their childhood deep inside a cave: not only are their limbs immobilized by the chains; their heads are chained in one direction as well so that their gaze is fixed on a wall.Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which puppets of various animals, plants, and other things are moved along. The puppets cast shadows on the wall, and the prisoners watch these shadows. When one of the puppet-carriers speaks, an echo against the wall causes the prisoners to believe that the words come from the shadows. The prisoners engage in what appears to us to be a game: naming the shapes as they come by. This, however, is the only reality that they know, even though they are seeing merely shadows of objects. They are thus conditioned to judge the quality of one another by their skill in quickly naming the shapes and dislike those who play poorly.
This drawing is highly simplified and should only be used as an aid for grasping the picture the allegory creates; it does not represent the entire allegory.
This drawing is highly simplified and should only be used as an aid for grasping the picture the allegory creates; it does not represent the entire allegory.

For my point, the "cave" is our own livingroom, and the media constructed reality are the shadows cast on the television set, by order of the media. The sounds coming from those shadows are carefully selected, in order to create the desired reality.

Case in point is John McCain. Two things have been tattooed into our national psyche about the Senator; he is a "Maverick" and a "Straight Talker."

Who decided this? It is one thing for a Howard Stern, an entertainer and radio bigmouth, to declare himself "The King Of All Media" long enough and frequent enough for the media to simply shrug their shoulders and declare it a part of his motto, but it is entirely different for a public servant to get such deferential treatment.

Sometimes, one who is outside the cave, sneaks in to ask a question with hilarious results:

John McCain's history is rife with flip-flops and outright pandering. Without a doubt, no Democratic contender could get away with changing positions as many times as John McCain. His primary credentials seem to be his "war record" during our time of war. He crashed up five planes and logged less than eleven hours over Vietnam before inevitably getting shot down, breaking his arms and leg while ejecting. This somehow gives him the moral authority to persuade Americans to fight in Iraq for another hundred years.

He said it would be easy. Then gently suggested to Americans it was not and chided the naysayers in congress who didn't understand what they were voting for by authorizing the war. Certainly people can change their minds, given time and information, but John McCain can do it in eleven minutes.

This is not "straight talk" but double talk, so much so John McCain needs five sets of teeth. No matter what you believe in, Senator McCain agrees with you, or has at some time in the last couple of years.

But, as dangerous as a politician is, who will say and do absolutely anything to win, it pales in comparison to a meek and compliant cheerleading press corps. who are unwilling to point this out. Not only that, they are the ones who are constructing this false reality of St. John McCain.

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