Mika Brzezinski, news anchor for MSNBC’s Morning Joe show, one day had enough and snapped live on air. It was a graceful and relatively sanitized outburst, but her frustration was clear, her anger formidable.
The reason? The lead story chosen by her producer. Take a look.
You’d think such an incident would lay bare the ridiculous situation, sparking a mass movement against the way the media medi(c)ates the world with trash news, meaningless stories to keep people dumb and sedated. Mass anti-depressant treatment, take one. Take billions, hook, line and sinker.
It was about time someone stood up to it.
A moot stand! The people in charge are smart and know what they’re doing. They see trouble and adjust on the spot. They incorporate the anomaly into the show, making a story out of it. They play into it so that in the end, whatever the issue and whatever one says, the outburst ends up playing into the overall broadcast.
Thus the protest against media-pushed stupidity becomes a story covered by none other than the raging rebel and her flabbergasted detractor. It becomes a report on the original story, which sees Brzesinski almost mocking herself while recounting key events, dowsing the incident with an air of reminiscence (‘did I rip it up?’) and humor (‘you are kind of medieval, in an appealing way’), creating an amount of detachment from the incident. In true hyperreality fashion, the object in question is now presented as a story that is represented by a report that is based on previous recounts and versions, takes and recollections that accumulate in an endless chain of reports that end up substituting the original incident, making one forget what the issue was, what the point was, where it happened, why it happened, who said what about who and when, and what are we talking about again?
Whatever man, just look at Paris strut in her high heels, yeah, wow, that’s nice… keep it running, people; it’s just what the doctor ordered. I have enough trouble in my life as it is and don’t need to stress over the news. War, famine, disease, death, depression, depression, endless damn depression – I can’t take it anymore. Show me eye candy and chill.
And so they do, on the one hand taking the audience’s attention away from the negative and bleak state of affairs, giving them something brighter to think about, on the other hand bombarding us with mindless trivia until our minds are medi(c)ated into a united state of carelessness. Not just in America, but all over the world.
Legendary director Sidney Lumet saw it coming years ago. He made a great scene about it in his movie Network. Let’s take another look at this scene because it’s relevant again, on many points: the anger and frustration the news anchor feels, the urge to be left alone and not be hassled by our news on war and death and crisis, the cameras rolling unfazed, a breaking story in the making, and the show, the show that never ends. The show that goes on and on and on, revealed through the cameras of a film set pretending to shoot a newscast, reality represented by facsimile. This is the age of simulacra and simulation, where seeing beyond entertainment or style, into the core of the matter, takes some effort.
Take Sidney Lumet himself. He wasn’t nominated for an award for best social commentator, critic, thinker, modern prophet, anatomist of organization and human behavior, or any such function, which is where the core of the matter was. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Not bad in itself, if you discount the content of his messages to the world. Everything he did, said and revealed through his movies could hardly be condensed and contained solely within the realm of motion pictures.
But that’s what we remember Lumet by, forgetting that what he said was more than great art. It was tremendous insight.
See, when it comes to describing something substantial on a mass scale, especially if that something is disturbing and inconvenient, (to paraphrase a modern adage) humanity is like the dog looking at the finger pointing to the bone. It keeps staring at the finger, missing the goddamn point.
Eyes open, mind sharp.