Saturday, April 14, 2007

Media Misdirection

When I was in high school, I was interested in journalism as a major. My grandfather, an esteemed lawyer, was impressed with my interest as it was the "Fourth Estate," and encouraged me. Journalists were hard-hitting, fact-finding, unbiased communicators. I grew up in the shadow of the "All the President's Men," when Woodward and Bernstein were the catalysts in changing government. Daunted by the competitive nature of the field, I opted out of Journalism for an attempt at Business and finally graduating with English.

Anyway, had I pursued this degree, would I be sitting in the Bahamas right now, parked outside Anna Nicole Smith's house?

I can't understand what is happening to the media. How does entertainment and gossip become news? Are sponsors and ratings pushing them?

There's also a monomaniacal mindset among them, in that only one hot issue that can take the headlines. If there's a political scandal, that will take the headlines. Britney shaved her head, there you've got a space filler. Everyone else, fall behind, including the real war for fictious reasons.

Perhaps Americans are running out of things to discuss. It seems radio jockeys or morning show hosts only discuss American Idol. Even our local news the other night said we should stay tuned for exclusive interview with the latest singer kicked off American Idol.

It may be a financial matter where news programs need the ratings to get the sponsors. And, if entertainment stories are what draws people, so be it.

I like to think most of the educated Americans get their news from the radio or internet. However, at this moment, this is on Yahoo "News":
Dozens slain in Baghdad, Karbala attacks
North Korea disarmament deadline passes
U.S. Peace Corps volunteer missing
Poll: Most Americans filing taxes online
Vatican defrocks ex-Philadelphia priest over abuse claims
Online gambling service takes bets on global warming
Auction for rights to canceled O.J. Simpson book on hold

OJ Simpson!?

Remember the old days when CNN just did news and MTV played music videos? At the gym, they have TV's set to three channels - CNN, ABC and ESPN. A few weeks ago, CNN's Larry King was interviewing people related to Anna Nicole Smith and they were showing the same pictures over and over. On ABC, they had a PrimeTime series on "The Outsiders," and focused on a porn star whose parents were her managers. Of course, they continued to show her 'at work' with strategic blurred images. So, now ABC was showing porn to get ratings. Bravo.

Pushing the Envelope
The hot topic this week was Don Imus's racial slur. I was horrified by those comments. Don was trying to be funny by acting Black to his white audience. He's heard African-Americans call women "ho's" and feels that it can be used freely. Right now, I've seen a lot of solidarity among African Americans about this issue - this is unacceptable, misogynist and racist. They've pointed to the power of language, and the power that Imus has a media personality to influence people.

My first issue with this situation is the media again. Donny Deutsch was interviewed on this topic and he pointed out that these kind of hateful programming are being supported by handful of companies. If these corporations took responsibility to promote decent programs, it would be more beneficial in preventing such incidents. I don't know what happened to the FCC either. The more fines Howard Stern received, the higher his listening base went and more sponsors came forth. I don't get it.

Another issue this controversy has raised is language. As human beings, we always tell other people how to define us. I know there are a number of African-Americans who are against the street language of rappers. I hope the solidarity they built through this experience will help formulate change.

I know some people say that by using the N word or for women, Bitch, is empowering. I don't really buy that. While I may use Bitch as a word of strength, I don't want someone else calling me that because I cannot be sure of their intent. Now, among Indian-Americans, I'm seeing Macaca become that word of empowerment. I'm sorry, but I don't see the need to be called that. It's an absurd word, and there's no reason for desis to toss it around carelessly. If we do and someone is called macaca, we can't feel bad because we've given them that word. That's it - it's not about taking back, it's giving forward.

What is NOT in the News

I learned about this story of an Indian-American man who was brutalized by a police officer for vehicle tags. The Sikh American organizations and other Asian groups are getting involved in this. If Don Imus can lose his show for slurs, I think this police officer should lose his job!

The part that infuriates me to no end is that all brown people are potential terrorists. I remember after September 11th, bearded Indian men suddenly were clean shaven. The media with monomaniacal tendencies and the government have driven home FEAR into the mind's of the American public. For the most part, middle-America is safe from terrorists. Yet, when a mass fear grips people, it can be extremely damaging. Think of the Japanese internment camps. The Bush regime uses this fear to get public support. His approval ratings are decreasing, but the fear has been implanted already.

If any of my readers have advice on how to support this cause, please share!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think what Imus said was horrible, racist and a terrible thing to say, but I do not agree with him being fired because he said them. In a nation where many people freely compare the President of the US to Hitler or Ossama Bin Laden and the KKK has the right to have rallies under free speech, Imus should have been allowed to say what he did without losing his job. Of course then the public can be outraged and the sponsors can withdraw their support. He may then lose his job over the economic furor his comments have caused, but it really is not for the heads of CBS or MSNBC or anyone else to act like a Morality Policeman and throw the first stone.