Saturday, May 21, 2022

Like Flies Trapped in Amber Heard

If you have a digital device anywhere in your home or workplace or at your local gas station -- that emanates any media information whatsoever -- you have been repeatedly exposed to  may have you noticed that every fucking day the gods and algorithms of social media makes sure the Heard/Depp bullshit is top-trending everywhere.

Democracy is on fire and every day GOP arsonists lob another barrage of Molotov cocktails into the conflagration and a huge swath of the country is apparently 100% oblivious to it, but you can damn betcha everyone has had the Heard/Depp drama shoved into their sight-line dozens of times whether they like it or not.

It's so glaringly ubiquitous compared to news coverage of every other thing that a former senator from a state adjacent to mine was moved to ask...

So let me explain, because it's really pretty straightforward.

Media is driven by advertising.  Every media entity from NBC to most of the podcasts you listen to remain in business by selling advertising.  Or, to be more specific, by selling your earholes and eyeballs to their advertisers.  Those host-narrated break-ins on The Bulwark touting the awesomeness of tobacco and miraculous powers of face-cream aren't there to limn stories about tobacco and face-cream.  They're there because The Bulwark can show advertisers that they can reliably deliver however-many tens of thousands of listeners every week, and the attention of those listeners is worth "X" number of dollars.  

Simple.

And, as my imaginary colleague Don Draper perceptively notes:

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing, it’s okay. You are okay.

So, for the past several years (decades, if we're being honest, but I don't want to get into a whole thing just now) the most important domestic news story, bar none, has been the Republican party finally coming fully out of the closest as a fascist white nationalist cult that is trying to destroy our democracy.

Almost every other story involving politics in this country -- the theft of a SCOTUS seat by Mitch McConnell, the insurrection, the rise of Tucker Carlson, the election, administration and renomination of Donald Trump,  the blithe acceptance Republicans in congress will block everything, the no-holds barred Republican assault on voting rights, the no-holds barred Republican assault on abortion rights, the invention and propagation of the CRT lie, the Replacement Theory lie, the Don't Say Gay stuff, the blood-libel hysteria over the imaginary burning of imaginary fetuses to power streetlights, and on and on and on -- can all be subsumed under the general  heading of "The Republican party is fascist white nationalist cult that  is trying to destroy our democracy".

You know it.  I know it.  And tens of millions Democrats know it.

But you know who doesn't want to hear another fucking word about the GOP being a fascist white nationalist cult that's trying to destroy our democracy.?  Advertisers.  Because that news is guaranteed to scare off 2/3rds of those earholes and eyeballs.*

First, of course, are Republican voters have been trained for decades to flee and despise anyone who tries to tell them anything they don't want to hear.   They're not going to stick around any media water cooler where the idea that their Republican party is fascist white nationalist cult that  is trying to destroy our democracy.  They know it's true.  They wallow in it.  But they don't want to hear some fucking judgemental media outsider saying it out loud.  

Which brings us to that huge swath of the country which apparently 100% oblivious to the existential threat from the GOP, and wish to remain so.  Especially during the Trump years, the evidence of it was everywhere, all the time.  They had their faces rubbed in every day, and there is nothing happy or fun to be found in the story that the Republican party is fascist white nationalist cult that is trying to destroy our democracy.  

That story is a billboard on the side of the road that screams with dire urgency that whatever you’re doing, it’s not okay.  You are not okay.  

Also that story violates the automatic response these people have had drummed into them by the mainstream media for decades.  That in every political dispute over anything, Both Sides are always equally wrong and equally to blame for everything.  From David Fucking Brooks just yesterday:

As usual, politics is a competition between partial truths. 

This is the easy, mindless, fast-food answer to every political question that has made David Fucking Brooks a very wealthy and influential hack and as lulled tens of millions of Americans into into a  cynically complacent trance from which they do not wish to be awakened.  

So while news about the GOP's plot to wreck the country is terrifying and sad, you know what news isn't sad?

Two celebrities going to town on each other in an ugly divorce case.

It's the perfect story for advertisers, which makes it the perfect story for the corporate media.  It's salacious.  It alienates no one.  It involves people you have heard about but have nothing whatsoever to do with your life.  There are zero stakes for the average person:  Amber Heard isn't going to take your right to vote away, and Johnny Depp isn't going to outlaw abortion.  

Except for those who are personally affected, it's basically a bloody kaiju fight in some faraway land that you can follow for free on your phone.  


So, in answer to Claire McCaskill's question -- 

I swear I do not understand the amount of ink/time being spent on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

-- this is nothing more or less than for corporate media functioning exactly as designed.  

And you and I are merely flies trapped in Amber Heard.

*Thanks for the typo catch.

I Am The Liberal Media

9 comments:

bowtiejack said...

Excellent.

Scurra said...

It may be worse than that, because it's also about normalising domestic abuse which, for a party that thinks that women should only be at home washing, cooking and looking after the children, is what they need to see. The more of this that happens, the less those who are far less powerful will be able to speak out.

Lee said...

"But you know who does what to hear another..."

Think this is a typo.

Blazing fire as usual.

Keep on, you know, keeping on.

Unknown said...

"Almost every other story involving politics in this country -- the theft of a SCOTUS seat by Mitch McConnell, the insurrection, the rise of Tucker Carlson, the election, administration and renomination of Donald Trump, the blithe acceptance Republicans in congress will block everything, the no-holds barred Republican assault on voting rights, the no-holds barred Republican assault on abortion rights, the invention and propagation of the CRT lie, the Replacement Theory lie, the Don't Say Gay stuff, the blood-libel hysteria over the imaginary burning of imaginary fetuses to power streetlights, and on and on and on -- can all be subsumed under the general heading of "The Republican party is fascist white nationalist cult that is trying to destroy our democracy".

You forgot one: flooding our country with guns. THAT's the one that has us looking at safer int'l waters. They release a virus like guns into gen pop and then are shocked at the street violence? And with the eventuality of another police shooting gone bad and another Kenosha-like situation, this time the cop-adjacent militias are gonna feel like they've got a license to kill. Add them to any mix in disputed local/statewide outcomes either this fall or '24, and it's gonna get ugly. And don't forget the accelerationist white nationalist rhetoric that can inspire even more mass shootings. Every day the GQP sound like they're slowly giving themselves permission to kill the rest of us. I don't really feel like stickin' around to watch a full-on bloody civil war in Pennsylvania (irony, huh?) or Idaho, or wherever when I don't even wanna get on the bus to go uptown anymore. I'm so tired of living in a place that's armed to the teeth potentially anywhere I am at any given moment. I want out of this country. Slavery was America's first original sin. Guns is its second.
It didn't have to be like this.
And yeah, the Republicans, the fascist party of the USA, did this. On purpose.

canuck1963 said...

Three days ago, I said this EXACT thing to my wife:

Everyone's focussed on the Depp/Heard trial......yet hardly ANYONE mentions or cares about the fact that the U.S. (as of last week) has now reached ONE MILLION COVID-19 deaths.

One MILLION Americans. Wiped out.

The equivalent of having the entire state of Delaware.......eradicated from the map.

But what do folks REALLY care about, instead?

Amber Heard testifying about how her dog stepped on a bee.

In-effing-credible.






Anonymous said...

People want to be entertained. Well now actually they want to be entertainers in the story of a great struggle for future of the universe which must be won for....? Well us, the good guys and the big guy upstairs. It's going to be great being part of it all. Until the lights go out.

Anonymous said...

/Paste
Because that news is guaranteed to scare off 2/3rds of those earholes and eyeballs.*

Well shit!, now I want to know what the typo was...

Anonymous said...

Decades ago, I read a pulpy horror-sci fi novel called Prototype. The plot wasn't that memorable, but near the end of the book there was one line that's stuck with me. Paraphrased from memory:

"With no enemies left, we became our own enemy. It would make a fitting epitaph."

Whatever America might have become, whatever worth and goodness we have previously brought into the world and might yet bring, had we but the courage - we sold it all, gave it away, laughed it into the void. We empowered "leaders" and politicians who prioritized frozen peaches and corporate profits over human rights and a caring society. We tolerated the intolerant; we handed them the keys to the kingdom, placed their hands on the levers of government.

And now the saboteurs and liars and seditious insurrectionists are gleefully smashing everything they can touch - and the institution with a Constitutionally-enshrined duty to call out such things isn't even asleep at the wheel; it's actively cooperating with the people who are destroying the US.

With no enemies left (not really, there are plenty, but none worse than the one inside our own borders), we have become our own enemy. America's citizens sleep as her coffers are plundered by the filch; we sleep as our rights are sundered and taken; we sneer at the media circus as our democracy dies.

And the media mavens will sail into the sunset on an ocean of money, unbothered by the destruction they've enabled. They'll always have the money to buy their way out of consequences, and the clout to white-out their role in the catastrophe.

I hate to be this gloomy, but: we really are so fucked.

canuck1963 said...

The comments by Anonymous are quite possibly the most profound and accurate observations I've ever read about this topic.

Here-here.

Copied and saved, for future reference.

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