Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Charles Foster Kane and the Four-Quadrant Podcast

From Wikipedia:

Four-quadrant movie: In the Hollywood movie industry, a four-quadrant movie is one which appeals to all four major demographic "quadrants" of the moviegoing audience: both male and female, and both over- and under-25s... Films are generally aimed at at least two such quadrants, and most tent-pole films are four-quadrant movies. A film's budget is often correlated to the number of quadrants the film is expected to reach, and movies are rarely produced if not focused on at least two quadrants.

So if a four-quadrant movie is one that ticks all four audience boxes, what would a four-quadrant political podcast look like?

First Box:  Happytalk.  It has to have happytalk among people who are generally friendly with each other.  Might be football or pets or grandkids.  Doesn't matter.  Quadrant one is telling the listener that you can trust them because they're a lot like you!

Second Box:  Those darn Republicans!  Some of those rascally Republicans are up to no good!  This is generally over some issue that is genuinely important, perhaps even democracy-threatening and we good guys can tsk-tsk that rascally behavior from a safe distance.   

Third Box:  Both Sides!  But when you think about it, aren't  the Extremes on Both Sides pretty bad?  This always involves equating some actual, heinous shit that actual Republicans with real power are doing with some mostly-imaginary stuff some marginal or relatively powerless Lefties may or may not have done.   And we good guys can tsk-tsk the Extremes on Both Sides from safety of our comfy sofa here in the Sensible Center.

Fourth Box:  Those darn Liberals!  Some relatively trivial issue or local matter or single example of something someone is doing will be dredged up and used as an Example Of The Larger Problem With The Radical Left!   And we good guys here in the Sensible Center where Most Americans Are can both laugh at the folly of those terrible Liberals, while also warning that if Joe Biden doesn't stomp the Radical Left flat with 15-20 Sister Soulja speeches (which we would be only too happy to write for him) he will alienate the Sensible Center, lose critical elections and thereby destroy our democracy and condemn us to 1,000 years of darkness.

If you listen with a critic's ear or read with a critic's eye, you will quickly notice that virtually every mainstream media political reporter and pundit, every Never Trump podcast and every Third Way/Country/Over Party/No Labels grift checks every single box, which is why such enterprises are profitable and influential.  Because people with very deep pockets who live in a hermetically sealed world of wealth and clout really, really want to believe this very simple and utterly false political fairy tale.

For such men, Both Siderism is exactly analogous to Charles Foster Kane's doomed campaign to make his talentless wife over into a successful opera star.  

Kane hires the best voice coaches.  He builds a new opera house in Chicago just for her.  Bankrolls a lavish production for her debut.  

The only problem?  She obviously can't fucking sing.  

But Kane can't accept this reality.  He is a man who has spent his life succeeding by using his fortune and media power to bend events to his will, and now he believes that by the sheer force of his money he can turn her into an opera star.  That he can compel audiences to applaud and critics to praise.  

The wealthy men who rule the Beltway media and who finance political enterprises are equally used using their fortunes and media power to bend public opinion -- or at least the media's representation of public opinion -- to their will.  And to that end they are willing to spend whatever it takes to make sure that some version of their toxic Both Siderist fairy tales continues oozing out of every major media publication and every opinion-factory they control or underwrite.  

And it doesn't matter to them in the slightest that Both Siderism obviously can't fucking sing.


Burn The Lifeboats

5 comments:

Green Eagle said...

"Because people with very deep pockets who live in a hermetically sealed world of wealth and clout really, really want to believe this..."

Wrong. They want US to believe it. They know perfectly well that it is a lie.

bowtiejack said...

Excellent.

GrafZeppelin127 said...

"Both Sides! ... always involves equating some actual, heinous shit that actual Republicans with real power are doing with some mostly-imaginary stuff some marginal or relatively powerless Lefties may or may not have done.

This ^^, x1000. This ought to be inscribed on the wall of every newsroom in America.

Il Distratto said...

I don't listen to The Bulwark but, hoo boy, does this well describe Real Time With Bill Maher.

Lotus said...

My "Rules for Right-wingers" (found at https://whoviating.blogspot.com/2021/02/031-erickson-report-for-february-4-to_96.html) are directed at the right rather than the "middle," but it was interesting to see how they would still apply. For example:

Re Third Box, Rule #16: "Both Sides Now. If the behavior of some among us is so undeniably bad that it can't be explained away, airily dismiss it with 'both sides do it.' Freely employ false equivalencies."

Re Fourth Box, Rule #5: "Make the particular stand for the whole. Find something offensive or silly some liberal or leftist, somewhere, sometime, said or did and label it as identifying the entire left half of the American political spectrum."

Professional Left Podcast #690

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