Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Who's the M.A.C.?", pt. 2 - Beyond the media's evident loathing of America, there are certain patterns of behavior on the part of the media that are driven by much more than that which can be explained by the interests of newspaper editors and television producers, or for that matter, the prerogatives of the seemingly omniscient focus groups or consultants.

Given the homogeneity of media content, it would appear that a well-coordinated effort between a few interested parties is afoot, the purpose of which being to reinforce specific attitudes within the culture. As far as it concerns news and information presented by the media, there is not any appreciable difference between so-called left-wing (i.e.: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN and MSNBC) and right-wing oriented (i.e.: Fox News) media outlets.

Each of these news sources is equally guilty of presenting certain biases as “objective” facts, with the salient difference between each being a furrowed brow here or a pregnant pause there. This is only slightly less so for print media, but only due to the nature of the medium, which provides for ever so slightly more contemplation that one would expect from the 24/7/365 news cycle as seen in the electronic media.

Similarly, in the sports and entertainment divisions of the media, there is almost no differentiation to be made in terms of the overall messages that are communicated. I would propose that this sameness is deliberate, and serves as evidence of a nexus of activity between media outlets, advertising agencies and celebrities. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to this confederacy as the media-agency-celebrity complex (MAC).

In as much as I wish to make my meaning crystal clear as it pertains to the collusion between the media, ad agencies and their celebrity lackeys, some definitions are in order. To the most conventional understanding of what constitutes the media (i.e.: print, TV, movies, recorded music, and radio), I would simply add the more modern internet-based outlets such as Yahoo, Google and MSN, as these have long ceased to be mere technology companies. Although reporters do most of the scut work in developing their stories (and certain reporters have more editorial leeway in their reportage), the most important decision-makers in the media universe are those editors and producers who decide what stories will be covered in the first place, as well as the particular slant of each story.

I will admit at the outset to having a very expansive definition of celebrity, that being any person who has ever acted in, or has been represented in any form of media. This definition would certainly include members of the media who have transcended their traditional roles to achieve full-fledged celebrity status, such as Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper. To the MAC, the primary purpose of celebrities is not to entertain, but to reinforce the memes of the MAC through entertainment (or in the case of Ms. Couric and Mr. Cooper, infotainment.)

And those celebrities who best convey the MAC’s messages are most handsomely recompensed, irrespective of their peculiar talents. By this definition, as opposed to a more classic description, Natalee Holloway is as much of a celebrity as Jennifer Aniston, in that they are both useful in conveying and reinforcing the intrinsic value of young, attractive blondes in American society, at least according to the MAC.

I see no need to redefine the role of advertising agencies, except to say that as they serve as the intermediary between corporations who want their products advertised and media companies with consumers and ad space, they are able to superimpose their values on the development of advertising, and by extension, the news and entertainment created by media companies themselves.

For the most part, it is apparent that the behavior of the MAC is independent of that of the corporate clients that underwrite its functions, as no other sector outside of the military has demonstrated more of a commitment to racial and gender diversity than Corporate America. To paraphrase the old adage, corporations, unlike their ad agency supplicants, only see one color – the color of the person who can afford their product or service.

In and of itself, this arrangement would seem to be benign enough. Media consumers get largely free content, usually with high production values thanks to the input of talented celebrities, with advertisers and their clients footing the bill. But in practice, the MAC has proven itself to be a wholly corrosive and destructive force in American society. In that it has successfully shielded itself from the tumultuous social changes that have occurred throughout the rest of the country, such as multiculturalism and second-wave feminism, the MAC has become the overflowing cup of institutional bias in American society, particularly bias based on race.

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