Monday, February 16, 2015

Time to resist the Media Narrative

The media in this country is no longer made of journalists, whose job it is to report actual facts.  Rather, it is an entertainment industry that cynically seeks pageviews and TV viewers for profit.  For example, did you know that "sponsored content" exists on many online "news" sources?  Sponsored content is when an advertiser pays to have a "story" favorable to their views published in a way that resembles actual, you know, news.  (Fox news is in some ways an entirely sponsored content site, where everything is reported through a subjective political filter.)

As part of this entertainment complex, there exist what I call the "Media Narrative".  This is how they frame stories in certain ways to tell a pre-selected story.

For example, "Science versus Religion".  You either believe in Godless science (evolution, climate change), or you are a person of faith.  Even though, as we have discussed here, many scientists are people of faith, and many people of faith do believe in science.

There's also "Gays versus Religion".  In this Media Narrative, there is no such thing as gay-affirming faith groups or religious gays.  So much for the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the UCC and the Unitartians, let alone the substantial  majority of Roman Catholics who are pro-marriage equality.

Importantly, the Media Narrative defines Religion as "Christian Evangelical".  You have to admire the branding of the Christian Right.  They represent perhaps 20% of Americans (about the same number as the "unaffiliated" ), but somehow their views stand in as the only ones that are recognized as religious.

The Media Narrative plays out in the current hysteria over Islam.  Demanding that the average Muslim on the street forcefully prove their loyalty by denouncing ISIL is no different than demanding that every Christian denounce the bombings done by the IRA. 

The Media Narrative also privileges claims of "balance".  Even though the vast majority of climate scientists believe in global warming as a human-caused event, the Media Narrative requires that every "pro" scientist is balanced by a skeptic.  This is like having every story about space exploration "balanced" by someone who believes the sun circles the earth.

Similarly any story about marriage equality (supported, again, by a majority of Americans) is "balanced" by extreme voices who oppose not only marriage equality but any protections for the LGBT community.

The Media Narrative thrives on ignorance and polarization, because that generates conflict.  And, everyone knows, conflict is the basis of any good storytelling.  It's why there is never any movie made about being dull, boring, and wonderfully "happily ever after".  It's the conflict of how you got to that point that sells movie tickets.

So, they cue the outrage machine and drive polarizing wedges, because that sells.

Thus, I'm going to try to stop participating in the polarizing outrage machine.  Oh, I'm still pretty passionate about things I believe in.  But before I click through on those facebook links and sign outraged petitions, I'm going to pause and think if I am contributing to the problem.

I am going to resist the Media Narrative.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I think there's also a lot of "If *I* don't hear/don't feel the IMPACT of a conversation-campaign, then it didn't occur."

For example, every time a Christian(ist)s say/do something heinously anti-gay, there's a presumption by anti-theist LGBTs that "allegedly pro-gay, aka NALT (for "Not All Like That") Christians must OBVIOUSLY not be saying/doing a damn thing, or else other Christians couldn't say/do anything so heinously anti-gay".

Another example: every time Islamists engage in terrorism, there's a similar presumption "ALL Muslims must not be saying/doing a damn thing to the Islamists, or else the Islamists wouldn't keep engaging in terror."

Am I privy to inter-Muslim conversations? No, I am not. In the same way, I KNOW that anti-theist LGBTs really aren't privy to inter-Christian conversations re gay rights/blessings. The anti-theists don't hear them---they don't make an effort to hang out where Christians talk to each other---so they assume they're not occurring.

I wish I had magical superpowers to make every anti-LGBT Christianist be converted. In reality, all I can do is pray and work for change---but I can't make it happen (in someone else's heart).

In the same way, I have to trust that pro-democracy/pro-pluralist Muslims ARE working on changing other Muslims, but they can't MAKE their hearts change.

Sometimes it strikes me as ironic, that those who have no belief in the supernatural---who actually mock the concept of the supernatural---demand supernatural powers, or else presume to find people-of-faith ALL guilty of every religious crime.