Thursday, June 9, 2016

Quickies: Pleasure-Shaming And The Media

     The major media, as most already know, are largely supported by advertising revenues. For the print media, that means the sale of advertising space in each edition. For the broadcast media (and many of the narrowcast media as well), it means the sale of advertising slots embedded in program material. In both cases, what moves the prospective advertiser to buy ad space or time in some medium is the number of eyeballs on that medium. Should the eyeballs drift or be lured away, so will the advertisers...and the revenue to the media...and the media themselves.

     Concerning the oft-cited and important goal of reducing the media’s influence over our perception and thinking, Ace has a few thoughts for us:

     The only way that people will actually stop doing a thing is when they simply do not wish to do it any longer.

     Telling people to "boycott" is like asking people to willpower-quit smoking: It won't work. You're telling them there's this awesome, desirable, luscious thing out there waiting to be consumed, and that they nevertheless mustn't consume it.

     But what if their minds change? What if they no longer see these things as desirable? What if they don't feel like they're "boycotting" Marvel movies, but instead are simply no longer watching repetitive, flavorless entertainments designed for 12 year old boys?

     What if people don't boycott the media -- but instead just walk away, no longer much interested in it?

     Once again, please read the whole thing; Ace is one of our best yet least appreciated writers, and he’s elucidating some important truths in this piece. But wait: there’s more!

     How do you get people to “walk away, no longer much interested” in something they’ve been using to fill their time for decades? Time-filling is a component of most contemporary Americans’ lives. We have more leisure time than any previous generation. It has to be put to some use; few of us will merely sit and do nothing for any significant stretch of time.

     The answer is simple:

For Americans to voluntarily pull out of the media’s grip, preferable alternatives must arise.

     Unfortunately, “simple” isn’t the same as “easy.” Some conservatives are trying very hard indeed to produce alternate forms of information, education, and entertainment that would compete with the existing media for Americans’ attention. The Internet itself is of value, at least as long as one doesn’t become a Facebook or Twitter addict. But the public’s media-consumption patterns are largely habitual, and old habits die very hard, especially when they’re reinforced by familial patterns such as “dinner at six, the news at seven.”

     The core truth is that we will fill our time with whatever appeals to us most. Therefore, to induce Americans to leave the “glass teat” powered off when at leisure, we must offer them better ways to fill it -- and we must make sure they know about them.

     I’ve tried to do my part. I have many colleagues in that endeavor. Some are better than others, of course. There are also many independent makers of music and films, some of whom ask us directly for material support via Kickstarter or GoFundMe. The great challenges lie in getting the word out, and in making sure that the results justify displacing the major media by our offerings.

     Thoughts? In this endeavor, no seemingly harebrained idea should be rejected out of hand. The task is too important, and the avenues explored to this point have been few...and largely unsatisfactory.


Anonymous said...

Time to re read "The Hidden Persuaders" and the two sequels again.

They are cautionary tales, not how to manuals.

Roy Lofquist said...

It's already happening, in spades. People spend more money on computer gaming than they do on movies.

Big whoop huh? For what we're talking about here, getting eyeballs off the media, it is Yuuge. For the price you pay to take your family to a two hour movie you can buy a game that people literally, very literally, spend hundreds of hours playing. In terms of eyeball hours it's a hundred to one in favor of the games.

You may have heard about a brouhaha in the science fiction publishing market. In a nutshell, the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) had invaded the Hugo awards, the most prestigious in the industry, to stack the deck in favor of more touchy-feely, more heroines, more gay characters, more peace and love than wars against aliens. It was easy. The number of people who pay a $40 "membership" fee and are able to vote is actually quite small. For a few years the Hugos were dominated by the "new age" stuff. A couple of guys, Vox Day (Theodore Beale) and Larry Correia, organized a counter attack dubbed Sad Puppies. It worked. Last year the Sad Puppies slates dominated the awards.

Most people, including the press, passed this off as an esoteric, complicated turf fight over market share in a small sub-genre of the industry as a whole. They were wrong. There was a huge fish to fry. The Hugos are a minnow. The online gaming magazines are the great white whale. Millions of gamers go to these sites to determine which game, out of the hundreds on offer, they're going to buy next. The reviews can make or break a game.

There a few giants among the sites. They get there by pandering to the big producers, the ones who make the blockbusters. In return for sterling reviews and high ratings they get pre-release copies and "insider" information. The little guys have to wait for the official release and play the game before they're ready to review it. The train has left the station long before they get a chance to chip in their two cents worth.

But the big guys also review all the other games. And guess what? The SJWs moved in. That's where the real war is being waged. The Sad Puppies are attacking. A lot of it is National Enquirer like stuff. Personal and nasty. But it's a war.

Anyway, that's an outsider's take from a guy who has been playing computer games for more than 40 years. A have no dog in this fight. But it's fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say what I'm about to say. I really, ...REALLY, do.

Cognitive dissonance.

It seems that many misunderstand this term. Cognitive dissonance is what occurs in the head of normal, sane, intelligent people when new information conflicts with old. A thing or proposition cannot be both "A" AND "NOT A" simultaneously. Cognitive dissonance is "bad sound" in the normal persons head when confronted with the paradox of being told that a thing that "everyone knows" is "A" is in actual fact "NOT A". Both cannot be.

The reaction to cognitive dissonance can be (1) reject either "A" OR "NOT A" (this is what normal, sane, rational individuals do); OR
(2)(a) modify "A" and/or "NOT A" (within their own heads but not in reality) such that the paradox disappears -- that is, rationalize them so that parts of each may be believed at the same time; or,
(b) engage in purely magical thinking that cannot even pass muster as "rationalization" and is a wholesale leap into the irrational.

Fran, option #2 is not what you're seeking. Instead, what you're asking for is the rejection of "A" for "NOT A" by the mass of Americans simply by presenting "NOT A" to them.

OR, you are asking for counter-propaganda which, even if accepted, shouldn't be accepted because it is propaganda. And, you're asking that it -- in short order -- outweigh in the minds of Americans 80+ years of Leftist propaganda gradually and subtly injected into generations worth of American culture.

In other words, engaging in our own "Gramsci's slow march" on a massively expedited basis cannot work. It is too late.

And that is aside from the fact that a reverse "march" carries its own moral peril of "becoming the monster you're trying to destroy". Not least of the reasons for which is that it would needs be engaged in backwards. That is, in most cases the Leftist shifting of Overton's window begins with a credible and seemingly-reasonable foot in the door, and only gradually increases to become gross distortion of reality and reason. With an end in mind, they have "nudged" America down a semi-slippery slope to where we are today. We would be attempting to push Americans back UP that semi-slippery slope. And we'd have to BEGIN with only slightly less dramatic distortions of reality and reason to END back up on the level plain of sanity.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Anon: Good entertainment premised on sound values is not propaganda as long as it avoids preaching. And good entertainment will always be preferred to left-wing propaganda by those who dislike to be propagandized.

In short, you're wrong, and you spent quite a lot of words at it. But that's your prerogative.

Anonymous said...

Nothing but crap on the TV. Went back to the old standby, SF novels. Lotta crap there too but at least I can express my displeasure by writing an Amazon review and read others' reviews before I buy. Movie studios have so butchered great SF, that I reluctantly watch just so I can tear it to pieces. The latest Star Wars sucked.

I watch TV for entertainment, not indoctrination.

I read this blog (daily) because of the great writing, and I share Fran's views.

Anonymous said...

We can agree to disagree. I'm not insistent upon my point of view on this. It's merely my opinion.

However, I would just like to say two more bits. (yes, I can be a wordy s.o.b. because I do not like to be misunderstood)

First is that I would massively appreciate "good entertainment based on sound values" and this would be worthwhile and awesome in its own right.

Second is that I must have misunderstood what you meant by "the media". I was thinking primarily of news, and only secondarily of entertainment like movies, television, etc.. Alternatives for either are worthy as ends in themselves. I was focused on the impact of modern journalism upon Americans' way of thinking and whether alternative "media" could be a means to the end of influencing that way of thinking.

Sorry I mis-read you.

Jack Imel said...

Actually, it is quite simple: just remember VIMA - Volition, Integrity, Motivation, Accountability... All other elements of society are subsets of those four.

But heck, it's just my opinion; so all of the anons are welcome to make it more complicated.

...nice words, Fran, on your last three blogments...