Reality Television is Like Affective Crack

I made the mistake of watching Hell’s Kitchen last night and the image and sound of Gordon Ramsey swearing for half-an-hour is now etched in my mind. It’s amazing they can put that amount of blasphemy on the air. Of course they bleep it out but that doesn’t fool anyone, not even children. What made me remember the experience, aside from having a strange Ramsey-like figure haunting my dreams last night, was the shamelessness of the affective appeals to the audience.

These Horses Must Be Dead by Now

Three years ago I wrote the following about my experience at Socrate’s Cafe here in Minnesota. I stopped attending for three reasons: 1. every conversation started revolving around politics, which became tiring after the first month and 2. the conversations lacked philosophical sophistication (granted I studied philosophy in college so my standards might be higher than just anyone off the street)… What became more and more frustrating to me was that each conversation

On the Unimaginable

I made a mistake tonight. I turned on the radio to listen to the news about the foiled terrorist attack discovered in the United Kingdom. Over and over again the news anchors, the commentators, and even the police used the word ‘unimaginable’ to describe the plot. The root of all this hyperventilating seems to have come from this quote: Paul Stephenson, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We are confident that we have disrupted a plan by terrorists to cause untold death and destruction and commit mass murder.

Cosmos and Carl Sagan's Legacy

Over the weekend I decided to rewatch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, in addition to the fascinating, but depressing, movies about war that I’ve been harping about recently. Sagan is one of my personal heroes and television show Cosmos was one of the formative viewing experiences of my youth. I remember hearing people imitate his voice on ‘billions and billions’ or seeing him on Johnny Carson with my grandmother. So last night I sat down on my couch and watched the first episode of Cosmos, “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.

People and the Masses - or is tech really a savior

Late last month Jay Rosen, one of my favorite media analysts, published an essay called ‘The People Formerly Known as the Audience’. The people formerly known as the audience would like to say a special word to those working in the media who, in the intensity of their commercial vision, had taken to calling us “eyeballs,” as in: “There is always a new challenge coming along for the eyeballs of our customers.


The brouhaha over Howard Dean’s overexuberent speech after the Iowa caucus continues to grow to absurd lengths. The question I want to know is why this story has so many legs? From the right side of the political spectrum I think their is a lot of schadenfrude. Drudge and others are just happy to see Dean self-destruct. But the “mainstream media” has other motives, none of them particularly sinister but crucial to the continuation of the story.

Juxtaposition: Searls and Spears

I went to Barnes and Noble last night and saw the recent Britney Spears cover for Rolling Stone magazine and did a couple of double takes. What the hell is this picture trying to tell me? Does it say anything more than *#$%$ Britney? Every guy looking at that picture thought about sex. I certainly did. Earlier in the day I read a story by Doc Searls about the decline of radio.

Your Weekly Juxtaposition: Fallows and Beale

Last week I started reading James Fallows article “The Age of Murdoch” in the September 2003 Atlantic Monthly. I put the article down for a time to see what was on television and found “Network” on Turner Classic Movies. This was one of the craziest juxtapositions I’ve experienced recently. So for your edification here are some quotes to compare. James Fallows: In the world beyond the FCC’s purview the idea that the news business differed from other businesses had started to erode as early as the 1970s.

Neal Gabler on Media Bias

Neal Gabler wrote a very interesting book, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality, a few years ago. Today he’s working as a commentator on Fox News and writing op-eds. The Media Bias Myth deserves to be read because it describes accurately the real clash between advocacy journalism and objective journalism. Objectivity may always be suspect, but at least in journalism the goals of objectivity were a noble response to a media that seemed too partisan in the last century.