Can We Trust The Media? (Baudrillard)

Press Start for Can We Trust the News? by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more.

Episdeo 29: Can We Trust The Media? | Baudrillard

Written & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon

Can We Trust the Media?

In light of recent events concerning newscasters being lost in the fog of … memory—it may be pertinent to ask: can we trust the news media?

For proclaimed “priest of postmodernism,” Jean Baudrillard, it isn’t lack of access to information that renders the news meaningless, it’s the proliferation of images that makes it so untrustworthy.

Depending on where you get your news, you’ll see “evidence” that climate change is either serious or a myth. Enough searching reveals that Paul McCartney is really dead, Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing and 9-11 was an inside job.

If you look hard enough you can find the contrapositive, underside, or opposite of any event. These multiple interpretations don’t make the world more accessible—the explosion of information, of events, makes the ability to understand the world nearly impossible.

The camera lens makes every image suspect. War is reduced to theatre, disease into telethon, hunger into magazine covers. It makes the most atrocious events questionable—every image is possibly staged, recreated, simulated for a political end or to push a product.

There are hundreds of news channels all competing for viewers, followers, and hashtaggers. Media and advertising operate on the same wavelength and as a result, the line between reality, marketing, and news is nearly impossible to discern. Media outlets and advertisers compete to keep people glued to their couches, perpetually titillated by the explosion of content on the screen.

It’s the selling of a lifestyle, a promise of access to the truth, as something to produce meaning—it’s why reporters appear at the scene of crimes, embed themselves with military units during war, and stand on the banks of oceans during hurricanes—the signs of disasters are images to be consumed.

While our lives may be utterly boring and meaningless—the nightly news reports that there are in fact places where things take place. It sells the promise that meaningful things do happen.

They broadcast stories of actual events—but far from giving viewers access to the world—the media creates a copy of an event—they create non-events… Xerox copies of reality that are easily ingested by a society that has been trained to accept advertising, suggestion, and disinformation.

For Baudrillard, we’re complicit in this disinformation campaign. People willingly choose deception—the masses want to be tricked, fooled, and distracted from the reality of their lives.

Simply put: we prefer the copy of reality.

In the world of social media, we are no longer passive spectators. We interact, create, and dictate news—we are the screen, the editor, reporter, and subscriber all at once.

So dearest viewer, if Sylvester Stallone is in the Boxing hall of fame as Rocky Balboa, and if people still believe the lie that wrestling is real how are we ever supposed to find out if Paul McCartney is alive?

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