Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Who is ‘the media’?
“I can’t remember the last time anyone referred to ‘the media’ and had a kind word to say. Journalists have about as much in common with the media as I do with the ancient kingdom of Media or the convention of those mediums who speak with the spirits of the long-departed. Yet everywhere from barbershops to universities, the concept of the media is now conventional wisdom. Never mind that it encompasses a hash of entities that includes television, radio, newspapers, movies, MTV, ad agencies and anything else that offends the eye or ear on any given day.
“It is a construct that positively invites overly broad theories and easy, sometimes reckless, criticism. The difference between the Wall Street Journal and the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer nearly defy comparison. There is no U.S. media system, and no hegemonic conspiracy. The reporter covering the war in Afghanistan has nothing in common with the rap singer who spews misogynistic lyrics or the talk-show host who lures a pregnant teen-ager and her cheating boyfriend before the cameras.
“David Broder is not Matt Drudge. ‘Meet the Press’ is not ‘Temptation Island.’ And I am not Jerry Springer. I do not speak for him. He does not speak for me. Yet ‘the media’ speaks for us all.”
journalism professor Ted Gup, writing on “‘Media’ Means So Much, It Means Nothing,” in the Nov. 23 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

End of the Web
“The Internet revolution has ended just as surprisingly as it began. None expected the explosion of creativity that the network produced; few expected that explosion to collapse as quickly and profoundly as it has. Under the guise of protecting private property, a series of new laws and regulations are dismantling the very architecture that made the Internet a framework for global innovation.
“The Internet was born in the United States, but its success grew out of notions that seem far from the modern American ideals of property and the market. Americans are captivated by the idea, as explained by Yale Law School professor Carol Rose, that the world is best managed ‘when divided among private owners’ and when the market perfectly regulates those divided resources. But the Internet took off precisely because core resources were not ‘divided among private owners.’ Instead, the core resources of the Internet were left in a ‘commons.’ It was this commons that engendered the extraordinary innovation that the Internet has seen. It is the enclosure of this commons that will bring about the Internet’s demise.”
Lawrence Lessig, writing on “The Internet Under Siege,” in the November/December issue of Foreign Policy

Action aesthetic
“Some have said that [the September 11] disaster signifies the death of irony in pop culture If it means characters in films will not feel wholly immune to the reality of the violent actions their narratives compel them to commit well, one can hope.
“Since the late ‘70s, Hollywood has been retreating from the realistic depiction of violence, fully of its own accord. The tanking of the careers of people like Sam Peckinpah, Sam Fuller, and Arthur Penn, and the death or disappearance of auteurs as diverse as Anthony Mann, Budd Boetticher, Don Siegel, Nicholas Ray, Akira Kurosawa and Luis Buuel, were all part of a drift toward a completely new action aesthetic.
“The unprecedented success of the Lucas and Spielberg aesthetic inaugurated in the ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ films was responsible for a historic paradigm shift. The death of an entire planet which the characters react to for about six seconds in the first ‘Star Wars,’ exemplifies this mode. Nothing is humanly at risk if the audience never has to complicate their identification with those who perform violence or those who are the objects of it.”
Larry Gross, writing on “Letter from Hollywood,” in the November-December issue of Film Comment

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