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Disorientalism

Alright, 202 is finished, for now.

How’s revision folks? Intending to start on 216 later today… No, Jan, don’t tag me about how you haven’t started studying yet… I don’t want to know…

Do you think the media (TV, radio, print) should be run solely as businesses? As in, profit maximisation at all costs taking into consideration legal requirements? Apparently, some people, like my dear brother think so, and he thinks that studying philosophy and ethics regarding media and communication is just a waste of time.

After all, when we become media practitioners, we’re going to work for media firms, and our job is profit maximisation, isn’t it?

A business entity’s aim is profit maximisation isn’t it? Yes it sure is. But could you separate Jerry the media practitioner from Jerry the human being? Obviously not, right? When I’m working I’m a human being too ain’t I?

So why don’t we just study the techniques of production, PR, advertising skills etc etc and then graduate? Technical skills. Some of our seniors several years back complained they had learnt nothing, which my guess is they felt they hadn’t learnt enough technical skills.

It seems my brother thinks that should be the case.

But Jerry, who happens to be a human being, wants to learn what he should do as well. He wants some guidelines, frameworks of thought regarding the various forms of media on culture and content, on its implications on citizens, politics and public consciousness. Not that I’d just memorise and agree with what some scholars and academics feel, but to know how our predecessors felt and what their concerns with media were. So we can decide for ourselves how to be media practitioners with a human conscience.

What significance does film have, that it differs from books? Comics? What of the ways in which they present information? Is thinking involved? What of TV news?

But that being said, most of us graduates will just leave with our degrees and put our skills up for sale ‘to the highest bidder’. We’ll do what we’re paid to. If somebody reeled in disgust at your ad with scantily dressed women, you’d say, that’s my job, I don’t mean it personally.

Right. And I’m sure that soldiers who are ordered to commit genocide should not have any guilt because they were just following orders.

There’s a psychological term for such a phenomena, of how individuals absolve responsibility for their actions by hiding behind a bureaucratic structure. Can’t remember what it’s called.

But nobody ever got killed by scantily dressed women. If people want to see it, we should let them! After all, we need to cater to consumer’s taste, don’t we?

If you’re coming from that viewpoint, then I guess you should stop reading this article.

People like party drugs, hardcore drugs. They like alcohol, cigarettes. Overdose of these addictive things kill the body. But media is different. Overdose of addictive images kills the mind.

Are beautiful women nice to look at? Yes. Could looking at them become addictive? Yes. So what happens then? Women become a way of satisfying addiction. But it never goes away. Desensitization
sets in. Islamic societies respond by demanding women dress covered up and in clothing that hides the female shape. And how do we respond? By having more naked women in more situations.

I’m not saying Islamic societies is the way to go. But you see, there is human weakness for beauty here that is being mercilessly exploited by business interests. No consideration of balance.

I wonder, what do women think about all this? Or is it all in the mind? If I really wanted to I could just ignore all the near-naked women in the streets? Or go live in Iran? But you see, beauty is good. Women are created to be beautiful in the eyes of men.

Abuse, its a form of abuse. But then again, most people are relativists. If having scantily dressed women in billboards is what people don’t mind, then so be it.

My brother got a good taste of what his profit-maximisation theory of media meant. He was very surprised to see that Sunday Times now looked so ‘New Paper’-like. And I told him – market reality. He was visibly disappointed at the bimbotic-ness of the latest cartoon serious on ARTS CENTRAL – Stripperella. And I just had to say “well, market forces – give the people what they want.”

In product markets of most goods there is a self-correcting mechanism. Lousy car makers go out of business. Chefs selling poisonous food go to jail.

But there’s no self-correcting market mechanism for mental addiction to enticement, be it sex, violence, controversy, fantasy. We just give them more and more and more. In the name of news values. In the name of whatever attracts attention. And it ends up like a legalised opium industry.

Boys and girls, welcome to the media industry. We don’t pollute, we don’t waste and we don’t generate any side effects. Because you’ll never see that our greatest externality is you.

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