“We welcome illusions because they spare us unpleasurable feelings, and enable us to enjoy satisfactions instead. We must not complain, then, if now and again they come into collision with some portion of reality, and are shattered against it.”
~ Sigmund Freud, Thoughts on War and Death
In the consideration of ideas, life and the relative phenomena of reality, the writer, thinker, artist, or anyone else driven by curiosity will tend to explore every possible nuance to an idea available. Some of us may be drawn to a singular facet more than another. This is all well and good; a personal point of view is what keeps conversation lively between us. As long as—at the end of the day—we can all roughly agree we are still talking about the same thing. The elephant in the room is still an elephant and hasn’t changed into something else. But just as some of us cannot contain our curiosity, some of us can’t stop following singular lines of logic and end up going horribly awry in perspective. The elephant becomes an octopus.
It helps to know what is true and the truth is a slippery fish. What is truth exactly and how do we know it when we see it? Is there a core area somewhere in the center of an idea in which the truth resides? Or is it spread thin like a pancake, a layer wrapped around detritus and filling, the clutter of living? Can anyone have it?
It would seem so. Certainly when I am clumsy with the remote and trip over a channel that sends me hurtling into Fox News. In this hall of mirrors that shrink and contract, warp and distort the current issues, the truth is certainly up for grabs. It’s a free-for-all of truths.
But this is no fun-house. This is Sur-reality TV, a very disorienting place that serves reason—sliced and diced— up for the evening meal. All the scraps—truth, perspective, ethical and unbiased reporting—are flushed down the toilet. I watch it spin and disappear down a deep black hole and what’s left on the screen? Wooden puppets with clacking jaws. Words spewing from their puppet mouths like the crumbs from a cookie attacked by Cookie Monster. Words indigestible and flying every which way. Words like a snowball fight are grabbed by the handful and packed tight into balls, then thrown hard at somebody’s head (usually mine), joy as skulls are crushed. On impact, the words explode and scatter into random shards to be gathered along with bits of bone and brain into another ball with other random shards/words to be packed and lobbed again. The viewer is completely lost in the reality melee and hangs onto whatever words stick together the best. This is the sound bite. This, apparently, is the truth.
Fox News, Fox News Latino and now Fox Nation, Fox Entertainment and Fox Business are the arms of the octopus fighting the elephant to the death.
Well, this is my experience of a Fox News broadcast, but I don’t think it’s just me. In all this spinning of the truth and the facts, a sleight of hand culture has been created where basic meaning and cognizance are no longer required to participate. In fact, being in the way of all the crap being flung around trying to figure out what it all means just might get one hurt. I’m not trying to pick on Fox News, but they are the ones who, unfortunately most clearly exemplify and illustrate what it is to spin. Almost like a how-to guide. But it’s not just that they are able to opine and masquerade as news—but that people are ripe for misinformation and confusion not having been given a break from spinning since the Bush years. And in the last four years that spinning has reached a fever pitch. All the noise, confusion and distraction actually succeeded in fracturing meaning and reason, and networks like Fox are able get away with it. Well, with a little help from some friends at Crossroads Media.
But even the conservative right gets a bite or a taste of its own sometimes. One tweeter remarked, “Romney had blown the Libya point” in the 2nd presidential debate by confusing conservative spin for the truth. Oopsies. Apparently Governor Romney was corrected live on television. Checking on the Fox site, they are spinning the whole thing into knots.
It’s almost a thing of beauty what Fox News has done. Anything can be a story; anything can be news. With a subtle twist of perspective, reality changes. Almost like watching the home shopping network and being sold on things you never knew you needed.
In trying to figure out what has happened to reason, I trolled the Fox site for something that could possibly link to clear critical thought and I came across this piece of news:
Media uses liberal academics to opine about Obama, but hides their campaign contributions
By Dan Gainor
Published October 16, 2012
The movie “Bad Teacher” had actress Cameron Diaz sleazily trying to earn money so she could marry a rich man and never work again. Perhaps a sequel could be about college professors who pretend to be neutral experts, all the while donating cash to President Obama’s re-election campaign….The “months-long investigation” found no similar academics for Romney.
Who is Media? A serpent headed super-vixen no doubt irresistible to liberal academics.
Of course there is nothing wrong with opining and donating. Donation is opining, putting your money where your mouth is. Republican conservatives do it all the time and they do it BIG. Why create this issue? The only thing it manages to tell us is no one in the academic community will speak up for Romney. But still, this keeps us busy and distracted and, for academics on the defense, suggesting they can be bought.
But why discredit Academics? Is this a peek of things to come?
The more outrageous and offensive the accusation, the busier we get analyzing for truth, trying to find a reasonable response. This distracts from bigger issues; ones that are real and that make sense. Don’t go there! Do this instead. Here is my cure for the spin out blues: watch and learn and take notes— then do try this at home.
SPIN THE TAIL ON THE DONKEY! The new SPIN-tastic family game sweeping the nation!
- Pick any group or entity on which you wish to portray with suspicion and ill intent.
- Pick one to three words associated with the entity and the idea you want to convey. Example, as in the above article: Liberals, (cash) Donations, Academics. Make at least one of these words associate with your key point. Such as: Donations.
- Create your own buzz-word
- Create your fiction.
- None of the details need to be factual, but they need to sound convincing. No floating pink elephants, no Fairies, no bone gnawing giants.
Ok, here I go.
- Fox News.com
2. Conservative, News, Entertainment, Dinner.
“Conservative Television Entertainment Network, uses Home-shopping as a model to sell News at the American dinner table in an effort to gain viewers and advertisers.
Executives at Fox News have hired programmers from the Home-shopping Network in an effort to boost advertising sales. The program known as “Purchase America” or “Ameri-Mart” plans to use the same sales tactics found on the Home Shopping Network such as repetitive offerings and last chance deals, According to our long-term investigation, this apparently induces an atmosphere of panic and increased purchasing.
“Americans respond to these incentives,” quotes one Fox News producer, “and we have found the best way to inform our viewers and sell the products our advertisers offer, is through a familiar format that is comforting and helps our customers feel secure. Our information is processed into a format that is as easily digestible as the evening meal.”
If Fox News is dishing up the evening meal, then what is for dinner Fox News, and is it FDA approved?
It’s hard to keep a sense of humor when being bludgeoned to death by misinformation, but hopefully this little game will help turn the octopus into little pink dancing elves, or better yet, have the elves dance around the octopus till it gets dizzy and pukes up the elephant.