Tuesday, 4 September 2012

On Media Influence

On making my comment here at J.M. Cole's article on the protests in Taipei against the Want Want China group's acquisition of cable channels in Taiwan, I was reminded of this song (key lyric: "The say you better listen to the voice of reason... but they don't give you any choice 'cos they think that it's treason."). I reproduce my comment in italics below...


A point of criticism on the substantive issue of Want Want's acquisition itself... 

To the extent that the protesters fear Want Want's attempt to manipulate public opinion viz elections, there is an obvious irony and that lies with the insistence that Taiwanese people must be protected from the media, or rather, from being exposed to the "wrong" opinions - which in this case are those of pro-annexation. 

Yet is it not the Taiwanese themselves who are making this protest?

One of the words in the English language I detest the most is the term "the masses". This word is awful because, just as the feminists used to complain about the "objectification of women", this word demands the objectification of an entire group of people. 

It is very common, for example, to hear young people say that whilst they and their annointed companions do not need to be protected from the media (having been to university you see...) - "the masses" do. 

Who are these "masses"? Where do they live? What do they think, and who the hell do they think they are? 

Is there not a stinking and far too easy hypocrisy involved in attributing (for example) a gullibility, or lack of intelligence to the "masses" whilst - of course - preserving oneself and one's friends from the defamatory effects of such attributes? 

I say there is. 

The error might simply be an "unfortunate" consequence of thinking about "society" as an entity distinct from one's own social relations in the modern era when the immense size and reach of the State makes possible plans for large-scale social engineering (as per Lionel Trilling's critique of the "social imagination"), or it might be an indellible and hypocritical feature of human psychology... who knows? 

But somebody ought to make the point that the problem is not the Want Want group as such since, after all, they are not proposing to outlaw other media outlets (yet) and it is not as if Taiwanese people are stupid and easily fooled into believing pro-PRC propaganda is it? Or is it? Is that what the protesters genuinely believe? That other Taiwanese people (but of course, not themselves) are stupid? 

If that is the attitude present, then I should shudder to think that the nation's "future leaders" would be among that protest group. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is now in place, as of April 2012. Rules:

1) Be aware that your right to say what you want is circumscribed by my right of ownership here.

2) Make your comments relevant to the post to which they are attached.

3) Be careful what you presume: always be prepared to evince your point with logic and/or facts.

4) Do not transgress Blogger's rules regarding content, i.e. do not express hatred for other people on account of their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

5) Remember that only the best are prepared to concede, and only the worst are prepared to smear.