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Posts Tagged ‘dick cheney’

What do you make of Michael Vick, Ted Kennedy, Dick Cheney and Michael Jackson?  Villians? Heros? Role-Models? Titans? Flawed? Deserving? Entitled? Charismatic? Faithful? Loyal? Disturbed? All of these things? None of these things?

These people, as all people, are infinitely complex.  However, in the mass media (TV, radio, news, magazines)  they are portrayed in very simple ways.  Snippets of complexity stitched together into caricatures.   As proof of the over simplicity flip on the TV or browse your favorite news, sports, politics, or music site.  There is the rare exception (abcnews Ted Kennedy section) and usually it is buried on a website special section (you decide if that’s mass media).

Mass Media needs to generate and dramatize conflict.  When media fails to do that it usually doesn’t gain mass appeal.   There is a reinforcing loop for mass media producers to generate caricatures that get consumers to disagree and or promote that caricatures and the more consumers do this the more mass media produces.  If a person is presented in all their complexity it grows ever more difficult for a consumer to outwardly respond (e.g. blog, talk around the water cooler, call into radio shows…).  There is also limited time and space (and consumer attention) for mass media.  Broadcasting or publishing detailed profiles of people is physically impossible.

Yes, it is possible for a dedicated consumer to find the rich profiles and details they desire.   I do have a personal fear though – mass media drives so much of the political and social discussion and the world moves so fast that fewer and fewer consumers take the time to uncover the details.  Political marketers know this.  The Health Care discussion is a very good case study in how mass media fails to provide a robust intellectual platform.   There’s no one to blame.  Mass media has to make money for their shareholders and consumers do what they do.  Perhaps just a talking point and something to consider as we go about our lives.

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