political commentators = rubbish reviewers of films #3485

Monbiot’s concluding sentence: “When a scruffy comedian from Michigan can bring us closer to the truth than the BBC, it’s time for a serious examination of why news has become the propaganda of the victor.” Analytical translation: “It’s a pretty pass when the routine machinery which conveyor-belts into all our homes the orthodox news format (exactly x mins of information per day, no more, no less) fails to conveyor-belt useable insight along with it.” Emotional translation: “As a posh type fellow, I’m appalled that this fat vulgar oaf from the midwest is making a fool of our kind!”

I’m not a huge fan of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle argt – that all this popculture is pumped out at us to distract and bedazzle – bcz I mostly encounter it announcing that eg Britney is empty manufactured pabulumTM zzz, ie the FACT of the spectacle is noisily invoked to avoid having ever to address the actual important bit, viz why/how it WORKS as spectacle, what we’re drawn to, what it tells us abt ourselves (negation is a matter of intimacy, not distance).

But I really do believe that SocSpec has a point to make abt the way we uncritically let our news be delivered to us – so many thousand printed words daily [x columns to be filled, no white space allowed], so many minutes of TV or radio, cut-and-pasted to self-justify in our, the consumers’, eyes [y minutes to be filled, no restful dead air allowed] – functions as a vamp-till-ready substitute for knowing what’s going on (let alone why). NOT bcz rich or important fat cat in top hats are chuckling behind their mustaches as they decide what we’re allowed to know and what not, but bcz the techniques devised over decades to service our apparent demands for news – which ends up taking the form of very particular kinds of story – militate against many OTHER kinds of story.*

In this sense, by so dully acceding to the commodified** logic of the quotidian news-cycle, led by the important story requiring commentary (of whatever colour), I think Monbiot and Pilger and Soc!al!st Worker etc all contribute to the Spectacle: and Moore, himself a rich fat cat now, using old-skool Hollywood manipulative whatever***, has punched a brief hole in it, by breaking some of its rules of formal or genre propriety… It’s not so much an indictment of how bad our news media has become, as of the assumptions
i. that news media as a cultural technology is at ALL able to produce (or ever has, historically, produced) this idealised thing that Monbiot seem to yearn for in media-if-only-it-was-good, or
ii. that this ideal is actually anyway what we keep watching/reading for (as opposed, say, to a daily dose of depression, or the daily validation of our impotence and need to take responsibility…)

(*Ironically of course the story that the state’s big plans have gone awry and things are daily getting worse is a particular kind of story the formats DON’T militate against)
(**Commodification doesn’t affect the content so much as the form: of course, over time and courtesy repetition, the form affects the content – which film and pop critics know, and political comnmentators never seem to)
(***Bear in mind I haven’t seen F911 so this description may be poor, this sentence inoperative…)