Media Magic: Not One Angry Person in Boston
April 22, 2013
Shocked? Horrified? Grief-stricken? Determined? Yes, Boston residents who voiced those feelings passed through the media filters and were interviewed on camera.
But angry? Deeply angry at what happened at the Marathon and ready to give vent to it? The screeners took a pass.
I wrote about this subject after the Sandy Hook murders, and it applies to the Aurora massacre as well.
The sober sepulchral tones of media anchors, and their extreme deference to FBI,police, and politicians, form a hypnotic induction for viewers…and these leaders don’t want to break the spell, which is exactly what anger does.
Therefore, it’s a no-go.
Anger is a spark that fires up and spreads. So dampen it. Ignore it. Don’t show it on television news. Instead, say this: “Step back, everybody, huddle in your homes, let the pros do their job, they’ll catch the killers, look at the photos they want you to look at, remain calm, depend on designated officials.”
This is the new American dream.
If you don’t show anger on the television news, it doesn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind.
Then, once in a while, media can point to an angry group they want to defame: “See, look at those people. They’re angry. They’re the only people who are. So there must be something wrong with them. They’re dangerous. What they stand for must be a threat to all the rest of us…because they’re angry.”
Suppose, right after the killings in Boston, the major networks interviewed 50 people who were in a rage. Viewers would start to wake up. That’s not permitted.
This engineered absence of anger dovetails perfectly with the “have a nice day” philosophy. It’s all about “thinking positive thoughts” and immediately lapsing into a passive invisible state.
A culture of “anger-is-destructive” has made enormous inroads on American life. We even have so-called experts issuing phony statements about the deleterious physical effects of “negative emotions.”
This is preposterous idiocy, at best. The key distinction here is between mindless outrage and anger directed at those who deserve to be exposed for their crimes. It’s also a distinction between bottling up, out of naked fear, such specifically directed outrage, and expressing it.
Unless you believe the American Revolution was fought by smiling troops who strolled into battle like glazed donuts sporting muskets.
Read Tom Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that shook the Colonies and forced the Declaration of Independence. If you see no anger there, you’re dead.
In these modern massacre ops, the media formula works like this: “See, the perpetrators were brought to justice; it worked; the citizenry was kept in the background; nothing negative was expressed; and all’s well that ends well.”
Keeping citizen anger off the front pages and off the television-news screens is a purposeful pose. It’s really an emotional lockdown of the country.
The police not only act as an armed physical surrogate for the people, they also effect an emotional transfer. “You folks don’t have to get angry, give us your feelings, we’ll do the job, and we never hate. We’re efficient.”
This contributes mightily to the sense that we’re living in a land of androids.
Television is the universal teacher Communities and cities learn how to react, should a crisis suddenly descend on them, from having watched how it worked in other places—as television showed it, as television selected it.
“This is how you’re supposed to feel, this is when you feel it, this is the sequence, these are the words you use.”
In this artificial ballet, the last people who are going to doubt the law-enforcement bosses are those who learn from television.
The rule of television coverage operates in another way as well. Suspects in these massacres, if they survive, rarely if ever speak before cameras to a national and world audience, before trial.
The police don’t permit it, and if they did, a defendant’s attorney wouldn’t allow it, on the grounds that prosecutors could use his client’s statements against him in the courtroom. So the accused are buffered off from the public, kept in a tight cocoon.
This contributes to an overall air of extreme caution. The wheels of the machine are grinding; no humans appear to be present. The only officials who speak before cameras are trained to emit bureaucratic blather.
The public accepts this. They buy the presentation—idiot pseudo-scientists using techno-speak to analyze some species of insect, while also throwing off gaseous generalities about the nation, the life of communities, and the coming together of good citizens.
From the earliest days of television, the vaunted anchors who shaped the role for later generations—Ed Murrow, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite—gods to the American audience—affected the air of a reformed drunk who was always walking close to the edge of doom and needed to enunciate his concerns carefully, lest he fall into a pit of actual human experience where he would drown.
This became the rhythm, sound, and tempo of truth.
Now, Brian Williams, and Scott Pelley, the keepers of that flame, are practicing in the same school of understatement, are doing their slow tap dance around the rim of the cliff, assuring viewers they are taking them as far as humans can go without encountering details too sordid for civilized exposure.
Among those omissions are the words and outraged feelings of citizens who demand justice and know there is a great con in progress, a charade.
The lesson was learned in 1963. After that piece of television coverage, the monarchs of media struck out on a different path. Americans actually saw Lee Harvey Oswald, after he was arrested. They saw his anger. They saw him say, “I’m just a patsy.” They saw his disgust and growing hour-by-hour understanding that he was going to his end. They saw he knew he was going to be swallowed up and disappeared. And finally they saw Jack Ruby shoot him in an underground garage.
Guilty or innocent, Oswald transmitted a disquiet that was corrosive to the public consciousness. That had to stop.
Television could not do this anymore. It was too strong, too real. No one individual could come across that way again.
The government and its media machine would have to build a castle and surround it with armed force in layers of protection. It would have to develop a new kind of language to pretend to a humanity that was on the way out.
That’s what they did, and it worked. It worked, at bottom, because it created a new audience that came to expect and demand three-dollar bills, one after another, standing in for the real thing.
In some humans, when you open their souls, you see fierce joy, oceanic energy and imagination. In others, you see dust, and a machinery that pretends to these things.
Knowing the difference makes all the difference in the world. The dust-and-machine people can voice the highest ideals and thoughts, but it’s all prerecorded.
Especially when it’s live.
“I’m sick in my heart
But I’m not a fool anymore,
I know the charade is over.
The schemers and liars brought us to this house
In the middle of the night
And told us what the world was.
“I’m sick in my heart
But I’m not a fool anymore,
I know the charade is over.
The sellers and the buyers brought us to our knees,
But this is the end of the trance
That told us what the world was.
“Between the clouds, the moon comes,
Between the clouds, the moon races,
New boiling rivers rush down from the mountains again.”
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.