Sunday, May 29, 2011

React first, story later

What a relief it is to wake up this morning to Sunday papers telling us all how outraged we are. I don’t know about you, but whenever I worry that I’m incapable of developing my own informed opinion, I breathe a sigh of relief that some media organisations are superbly happy to do it for me. It’s always so much easier when someone tells you how to react to a story, and then tells you the story. It’s like someone telling you something’s funny, before the telling of the funny thing, or providing large handwritten cue cards inscribed with the instruction ‘LAUGH’.

For example, I wouldn’t have known that Cate Blanchett was the love child of some out-of-touch, Communist plot with a thirst for the destruction of every ordinary man, woman and child if the newspapers hadn’t informed me of that fact. If only they had provided Blanchett with a moustache to twirl as she graced the cover or, at the very least, devil horns… why be subtle, when you can be absurdly transparent in your agenda?

I love being told:

“The millionaire Hollywood actress has been accused of being out of touch by spruiking the benefits of the tax which she can afford to pay, unlike many hard-up Australians.”

I’m all for telling the news, but this gives us so much more.

You can imagine the debate about what to call her. When she wins an Oscar, we call her Our Cate. When she returns to take part in the local entertainment industry we call her Aussie Cate. But suddenly, a political stance has made her Hollywood’s Cate.

Then strike one up for alliteration, the headline informs us she’s Carbon Cate (Hanoi Jane eat your heart out).

Huzzah for airing people’s concerns, but this doesn’t seem to be about airing people’s accusations, so much as making the accusation in the first place. We have a cart, we have a horse, but which one shall we put first?

I’m probably being old-fashioned, thinking news should provide us with… news, which is to say information. I find conspiracy theorists icky (like an un-sexy version of vampires, they need more sunlight and less moldy, darkened corners to wallow in), but if I didn’t know any better I’d think we’ve stopped discussing carbon tax in the media and started waving pitchforks around. Was there a meeting in which we decided our audience was over the environmental fad, and the only way to deal with the topic was with smug snorts of derision?

Why have an informed debate when you can just gather round and tar and feather someone instead? It’s so much more entertaining.

I don’t know what to make of all this Carbon pricing business. It’s really hard to develop an informed opinion when everyone’s yelling so bloody loudly. News is no longer helping me make up my mind; it’s helping me realize we have a whole separate problem when it comes to the media.

I’m sick of this bunker mentality, this meaningless point scoring agenda. I’d love to have a conversation instead. But I suppose we’re past that now. Australia has become a hysteria spouting parody of itself.

Poor Cate, maybe she’s better off with Hollywood. At least until the media mob moves on to another punching bag.

Painefull Out


  1. Absolutely priceless, and i couldn't agree me.
    Great post!