An article by a Princeton scholar that I just came across makes an alarming case that the more media choices that viewers have, the more likely that people who already care about news and politics will pay even more attention to news, and will vote more -- but at the same time, people who start out preferring entertainment to news will react to abundance by watching even more entertainment and less news, and voting less.
Markus Prior maintains in "News vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout" that there's something good to be said for the bad old days, when there were only three networks.
Continue reading "The Poverty of Abundance" »
If Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ were Mel Gibson's bachelor's and master's in gore-as-good-times, then Apocalypto is his Ph.D. "Scenes of Graphic Violence and Disturbing Images" - the advisory in the R-rating box - doesn't come close to warning viewers about rivers of blood, severed heads, beating hearts ripped from chests, faces chewed by jaguars, and plenty of other carnage depicted with the realism of Saving Private Ryan rather than the shock shlock of Freddy Krueger.
Continue reading "Horror as Entertainment" »
In Hollywood, it's called a teaser campaign, and it's designed to build buzz. Launching a new movie, unless it's a sequel, is like launching a new brand, and the first step is to make people aware of its existence.
In Washington, if you're running for president, the first step is to create an "exploratory committee." You're not running, but you're not not-running. "According to the Federal Election Commission," the Washington Post points out, there is no difference between an exploratory committee and a presidential campaign committee." But from a getting-attention point of view, there's a world o' difference.
Continue reading "Primary Politics as Entertainment Marketing" »
USC Center on Public Diplomacy executive director Josh Fouts guest blogs about a piece by technology innovator and assessor, Clay Shirky.
Shirky does a bit of a take down on the latest craze to hit Businessweek, the Economist and many many other mainstream outlets: Entertaining ourselves in Virtual Worlds for fun and profit.
For those of you who don't know what I'm alluding to or are confused by the above links, I'm talking about Second Life. For those who haven't heard, Second Life is a self-proclaimed Virtual World. A 3-D place you can go (via your computer) to reinvent yourself as that 3-D alterego you've always wanted to be, reimagine your life, buy property, build a new house.
Continue reading "Second Look at "Second Life"" »
When it comes from the Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
The WSJ's Hanukah gift to FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein is a bit of a pistol-whipping for their insistence that the proposed AT&T-BellSouth merger doesn't create a company that extorts protection money from Web sites that want fast access to your computer.
The paper says that the two Democrats on the FCC "are carrying water for rich special interests" -- hello? Wall Street Journal editorial page? if you don't set the standard for water-carrying for the beleaguered rich, who does? -- and for "the rabble-rousing left wingers at MoveOn.org." It will come as something of a surprise to Brent Bozell's Parents Television Council, Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds, the League of Women Voters of Connecticut and the American Library Association -- among other members of the Save the Internet Coalition -- that they are actually pinko agit-propsters.
Continue reading "When Is a Slap-Down a Slam-Dunk?" »
Have you seen The Queen? Great film in general: documentary-fictionalized mix, History Channel with behind-the-scenes tidbits, wonderful performance by Helen Mirren, etc. But towards the end I was knocked right out of the suspension of disbelief by an odd ambiguity in the writing. Unfortunately enough it comes out of the mouth of the Queen herself. As I remember, it occurs when the Tony Blair character comes in to see Elizabeth II after she has finally made her speech about the death of Diana. He praises her for the speech and she replies (a paraphrase): "Some of your associates were not so fulsome." There it is: the hypercorrecting belief that "fulsome" is a fancy way of
Continue reading "The Queen's English" »
Early in November 2006, two days before the midterm elections, many in the UK celebrated the 401st anniversary of the attempt of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Because Fawkes and his co-conspirators were Catholic, his thwarted plan helped expand an already widespread English fear of Catholic military and political power. Then as now, Guy Fawkes Day was commemorated with bonfires, while seventeenth-century London added celebratory annual parades featuring a Pope-burning.
Continue reading "Paranoia and Patriotism" »
Usage Nazis, en garde! "Hung" is what pictures are, and drapes, and -- by his own account -- what Howard Stern is not. "Hanged" is what Saddam Hussein will be, says Aref Shahin, chief judge of the Iraqi appeals court, and just in time to be the warm-up act for W's State of the Union. From media boardrooms to television newsrooms, the self-defining question of the month now becomes, Should we show it?
Continue reading "Executions As Entertainment" »