Monday, September 19, 2005

A.D.D., Inc.

One consequence of the current media structure is a noticeable trend towards the lowest common denominator. This usually means concentration on celebrity scandals, entertainment news, and other relatively unimportant issues affecting the average person's everyday life. Also, media consolidation resulting from deregulation has actually produced more indecency complaints filed by the FCC. The most prominent example of this was the infamous Janet Jackson breast-gate incident during the half-time show for the 2003 Super Bowl. A perceived social harm was promoted by the media and a media reform movement of sorts gained popularity for a time.

The irony is if that clip of the exposed breast of Janet Jackson hadn't been repeatedly shown across the nation's television screens, it never would have become a major issue. The nature of sensationalism in the media, however, necessarily promotes such images in order to garner higher ratings. The real underpinnings of all of this, unfortunately, were completely ignored. The media rarely examines its own nature, or ask tough questions regarding internal reform. That is why it must be left to a truly wide and diverse public debate, in some sort of noncommercial and nonprofit format, such as the National Public Radio (NPR) or the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) networks. Unfortunately, the government has failed to provide significant funding for the noncommercial media sector, thanks to corporate pressure.

Perhaps a consequence of increased "lowest common denominator" programming is a collective dwindling of the American attention span. More and more children and adults are being diagnosed with various forms of attention deficit disorder. Could there be a connection with the hyper-commercialized society in which we live? Within the realm of 30 second commercials, half hour sitcoms, one hour "reality" and celebrity obsessed TV shows, and 10 second sound bytes, it’s increasingly difficult to find quality media that discuss serious issues that require actual thought. The media rarely follow-up on important news stories, but instead focus on the latest, sexiest, and most commercially infested topics. The corporate thought process forces a single-minded focus on next quarter's profits, virtually ignoring long term concerns. There is little room for "boring" issue debates that affect the majority of Americans, whether they realize it or not. The prevailing perception promoted by commercial media is that policy making is not important, and does not affect them, so there is no need to concern themselves with those topics. Is there any wonder why voter turn out is so low, and political apathy continues to increase?

Furthermore, the conglomerates who have taken over the media, have systematically bought out local broadcasters and eliminated local programming in favor of programs with more national commercial appeal, which more often than not is racier, and indecent in comparison with local values. This is what concerns many citizens who began to voice them to their representatives en masse in 2003. Unfortunately, most politicians are unresponsive to their constituents concerns when it comes to the media and their corporate cohorts. I guess money talks louder than words. Are our "moral" values being sacrificed for greater commercialism? Maybe one should ask staunch conservatives like Rupert Murdoch and the other media owners who allow this to continue unabated.

No comments:

Post a Comment