Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Still Pretending That There's No Skunk

Remarkable examples of the modern art form of "word salad" have emerged from the events of the last week.  Of course, everyone has been saying everything possible about the Tucson shooting, and MeanMesa has little interest in adding much to the foamy pillows already dump truck deep as pundits attempt to somehow comfort the citizens by emasculating the actual structure of the event.

Everyone has already said their piece.  Blame has been posted.  Culprits excoriated. Modern times lamented.

However, viewed as a larger picture, something interesting is "poking its face" up and out of the mire.  That "something" is revealed as we track the transformation of the media words which have become the currency of the discussion.  Even more, not only the discussion of the Tucson incident, but also, a few other modern things.

First, we can pause to ask ourselves about the purpose of things.  The incentive to "know" about the facts of Tucson derives from our individual interests in self-preservation.  However, once we are equipped with the facts, we immediately face the next challenge.  "How do we feel about the facts?"

The national reportage -- in perhaps more legitimate moments -- has justified itself by citing the value of "delivering the facts."  All the risks taken by embedded war correspondents, solitary voices hidden among violent revolutions in the streets of distant cities and breathless interviewers standing in the aftermath of volcanoes and earthquakes are worth something to us.

That is, worth something to us as facts.

The feelings arising from the latest news, however, have been traditionally left as the task of the consumer of these "fact delivery" services.  It's their job to tell us, and it's our job to respond to the news.  So, because the maxim of modern times to to "improve" everything, when the energy and creativity required for "improving" the essence quality of products such as this "news delivery" falters, two easier choices present themselves.

First, part of what had previously been the effort dedicated to good quality "news delivery" can be diverted to simply marketing what has become "mediocre news delivery" by presenting it as absolutely the very best, high quality modern sort of "excellent news delivery."  When the "news delivering" voices we hear begin to tout their own astonishing efforts -- especially when compared to the slightly less astonishing efforts of their competing network -- we know that this special news "marketing" idea of theirs has gained priority over "fact delivery."

Second, when the body of "news" being delivered degrades, the "news delivery" industry can still move ahead -- and, move ahead at a very low cost, by the way -- to augment their languishing reporting products with "news response feeling assistance."  This means, that while the actual news reporting may be slipping into a somewhat shabby state, little "feeling extras" can be added to, once again, rehabilitate the apparent quality of the "fact delivery."

So far, this posting is as dry as a turkey roasted yesterday and forgotten in the oven.  It's clearly time for a few examples.

Example One:  The Nature of the "Shooter" in the Tucson incident

By now, MeanMesa visitors have already heard and over-heard all the gory details of the crime.  Everyone within two blocks of both the shooting and the suspect's home have been interviewed at least three times.  There is little indeed which can be added to that glacier.

However, another, parallel story has been unfolding.  It is the tale of the media and the "feelings managers" at the respective networks.  That story runs along some predictable lines.

To begin, the "shooter" simply had to be insane.  No other possible explanation could be allowed.  At the "feelings" desk in the news room, it was decided that the citizens must be comfortably reassured that such events were not even remotely the possible results of bad media behavior.  The course of the "fact delivery" immediately lurched into interviews with psychiatrists and psychologists.

The media geniuses correctly assumed that if the story were to begin to imply that "super, hypnotic powered" radio talk show hosts could, at any time they liked, incite a listener to perform such an act, the "feeling" would be unsettling among the listeners.  After all, unpopular feelings among the listeners must be carefully managed, or the listeners will turn their knobs to something which felt less unsettling.

The effectiveness of this approach was first seen with the description of the unsettling hordes of "suicide bombers" in the Middle East wars.  The "suicide" side of things made these combatants delightfully terrifying -- and, of course, very useful.  In fact, the "suicide" side offered an open door of opportunity for the domestic religionist parasites to peddle their own wares.

And, the "terror-app" didn't end there.  Because the "enemy" was insane, the troublesome "enemy" status became conveniently malleable.  A desperately co-dependent President, lacking the "big man moxie" to fight against actual enemies, immediately went to work redefining them for his co-dependent base.  While running wild, they became "evil-doers."  When captured, they became "criminals" and "very dangerous, bad actors" rather than "prisoners of war."

We all know the story.  The Tucson "shooter" had to become "insane" at once.

Not Crazy Enough for Prime Time News

Still Not Crazy Enough
Yup.  Crazy Enough.

And, once the suspect had been permanently painted with the "insane" brush, the universally unfair "blame" game could begin.  Now, MeanMesa doesn't really consider the proposition that the "shooter" was greatly -- very greatly -- assisted in his journey to "insanity" by a flock of sharp toothed, mouth breathing neo-con voices as much of a stretch.  Most of the rest of the country doesn't either.

So, what's left?

Ahhh, why a pundit-driven castigation of the "rules of evidence" of course.  A literal flock of commentators immediately began a long and tortured dance with  the "burning question of the day."  "Did the half-witted neo-cons on the radio push this otherwise very nice 'shooter' over the edge into a violent, horrifyingly unpredictable and unsettling insanity which should reasonably terrify everybody who already wants to believe that they are reasonable?"

Especially the "reasonable" part.  All of us listeners hold our claim of being "reasonable" in high regard, indeed.  High enough regard to turn our knobs to a different version should the one we're hearing become unsettling.  So, out it gushes.

Of course, under the unspoken, but meat-handed, implied "talk show rules of evidence," the proposition cannot be proved.  The good side of this imponderable rests with its invitation to the famous "two sides of everything" argument.  "Maybe the talk shows did this, but we can't prove it, so maybe the talk shows didn't do this."  Reasonable listeners, after all, insist that such things have "two sides."

No One Can Possibly Prove Anything.

This phase of the story's development caught MeanMesa off guard.  How exactly could anyone ever prove such a proposition?  PBS trotted out "studies" which "sort of" proved it, but still offered no conclusion so solid that the "other side" of the required "two sides" couldn't effortlessly dismiss it.  The game was rapidly migrating from "shoot the Congresswoman" to "shoot the messenger," a right wing favorite.

Now, MeanMesa has mentioned before the idea of "universally unfair blame game."  No matter how they might be conveniently twisted, the "rule of evidence" absolutely ruled out any responsibility whatsoever which might have fallen on the "golden boys" of the fear media.  Almost immediately thousand of megawatts of broadcast power established, beyond any doubt, that the neo-con wing nuts had nothing to do with the event, and that even fleeting insinuations to the contrary were "patently and universally unfair."

We had nothing to do with this, and your "universally unfair" blame is breaking our hearts.

Finally, because absolutely no one was to blame, this ultra profitable story was suddenly teetering on the brink of a "blameless collapse."  There was only a single, plausible "resuscitation scheme" left roaming around the country.  Of course, a various stages along the way, the entire affair was blamed on the liberals, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and a host of other passing scapegoats, but each one had traction problems, news-wise.

So, you guessed it.  The booming Glock was, well, an act of God!

This is what happens when you don't burn enough Korans.
Example Two:  The Nature of the Videos on the Aircraft Carrier

No need to groan.  The second example is a short, but interesting one.

On the story's first day, the videos were characterized as provocatively anti-gay.  By the second day, however, the videos had been rehabilitated to "lewd" status.  At the same time a few thousands of miles away, a stake was being driven through the heart of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" nonsense in the Congress.

For anyone not familiar with the story, here's the introduction to an article from the Healthy Style web page  (read the entire article here).

"And, quoth the raven, nevermore."

It seems that the naval officer on the USS Endeavor, who was in charge of making the ship protection video and reporting principles for the crew, has spiced up the material a bit too generic. This issue once dull now has people paying attention to it, as the Navy has investigated, according to Yahoo News.

The video public service vessels has girls with girls in the shower and men with men in the shower, along with terrible words, gay slurs, and pictures of men pretending to masturbate. This seems to have been done in a humorous way to bring some comedy in the picture.

Capt. Owen Honors, the official classification ship's second is the man who allegedly placed this video together and he appeared in videos in 2006 and 2007, according to Yahoo News. The videos were shown throughout the ship in the closed circuit televisions. Capt. Owen Honors was the commander of the ship in May, according the article in Yahoo News.

MeanMesa has no "ox to gore" in the matter, but still finds this fascinating.  It takes only a minimal amount of conspiracy paranoia to imagine the phone call to Washington concerning the precise wording which would replace the original story.

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