Friday, July 7, 2017

Normalizing the Spectacle

Summer tends to be the media silly season dominated by sharks and missing white women. But because there is Trump and Republican dominance of government at every level, among other things, the usual summer media obsessions have to take a backseat. In fact, I haven't heard a single missing white woman story this summer, have you?

Something's different. Something's changed.

Without cable news in our house, our media landscape is somewhat different than that of many Americans, but the fact that we watch television news at all means that we're still subject to the propaganda, lies and strict gatekeeping that are big parts of the media landscape. Our preferred television news outlets are Democracy Now! and PBS NewsHour. On Sundays, we tend to watch one or another of the Sabbath Gasbag Shows, though sometimes we skip it. Why bother, right?

It's a rare thing if we watch one of the network news shows or one of the morning shows. (We watch endless repeats of "Laramie" on GRIT instead.)

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! tends to restrict her coverage to those issues and stories she is personally interested in or invested in. She corrals her topics so strictly sometimes that "news" -- as in what's going on now -- is absent while a sort of academic consideration of potentialities and so forth dominates her hour. When you're familiar enough with her ways, this isn't too bothersome, but it can be frustrating.

NewsHour is a more general and standard-model television news program -- with a twist. They have literary pretensions, and they often feature artists and writers who have something to say. Because Ms. Ché is in a creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, she's more than a little interested in that part of the NewsHour.

Both news programs must be conscious of their funders and do what they can, and sometimes what they must, not to cross them.

Amy's funding tends to be somewhat opaque, but it appears to come from Pacifica and a select group of well-off patrons and foundations which seek to ensure that a leftish perspective on the news is at least available to the public if not dominant therein.

NewsHour's funding is much more mainstream. Thus their news is, too, but with that literary/artistic twist that you generally won't find in the typical network or cable news program.

With all that said, it appears that the entire news media industry has collectively decided to normalize the spectacle of Trump-de-do this summer in place of the usual diet of sharks and missing white women.

In other words, whatever he tweets, whatever he does, wherever he goes, and whomever he chitters with will dominate all news cycles of every outlet almost as if he were a shark or missing white woman.  We're supposed to be amazed and appalled, I guess.

It's the spectacle that matters most. And making believe it's like any other summer spectacle. Keep the Rabble entertained and unable to focus on what's really going on.

So long as Trump can do that, so long will he be secure in office.

He seems to be doing that with a kind of sharp-elbowed relish that we haven't seen in presidents for a long time -- most of us alive today have never seen it which is why it's so shocking on the one hand, and so entertaining on the other. Mr. Trump has no sense of noblesse politesse. 

He's a gangster, and a lot of Americans like that.

He's an upper crust twit. Some Americans seem to like that, too.

He's a buffoon. Addled. Clearly out of his depth, but he doesn't care, nor do enough Americans to worry about.

He obviously doesn't have enough handlers to keep him in line, but so what? The presidency has been so jokified during his reign to date, all the handlers in the world wouldn't be able to restore the "dignity" to the office. That's gone. Precedent has been set. Oh well!

From now on, presidencies will have to include a lummox squiring around a surgically remodeled Stepford Wife, A boy that "ain't right." A craven group of toadies. An ultra-craven group of ideologically driven "disruptors." Incompetence and incoherence will be the standard of rule from the Oval Office. There will be no going back.

I always dread the summer silly season because it tends to shroud the important issues that can easily lead to catastrophe after Labor Day. We've been down this road before. But this is different, I think, because more of those issues are out in the open. The precipitated crisis in the Persian Gulf, for example, over Qatar's "support for terrorism" could very easily lead--  stupidly and inadvertently -- to a Guns of August scenario that could touch off the War of the Ages . Who knew that the Balkan Thing and the assassination of an Archduke nobody liked would lead to WWI for example. The Saudi royals simply  aren't very bright, but none of these anachronisms in the Gulf seem to have very much on the ball smarts-wise.

Inject something like the Trump Spectacle into the midst of it, and... whoopsy!

So it goes.

But then, taking advantage of crisis is what it's all about, isn't it? Even if you have to engineer crisis. Somebody comes out on top, no? So let it be...who?

This is all becoming normalized.

I'm such a stick in the mud, I don't like it. Doesn't get my juices flowing.

It's garbage day out here in the wilderness. Have to get m'sef in gear and get the can out to the road. At least we have garbage pick up. A lot of folks around here -- even the fancy ones -- have to shlepp their trash to the transfer station themselves. The way of the world...

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