|COHOUSING & TV: Finding this debate in print, plus my 8 cents||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Jon Goldberg (jogoldbergvassar.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 16:54:39 -0500|
Dear everyone, I typically don't like to jump in to a mailing list discussion so soon after I've joined (about a week ago) but I feel that I'm pretty qualified to speak on the issue of TV and the idea of the public sphere, an important concept for cohousing members, I should think. The public sphere is the proverbial marketplace of ideas, a place where people share their different beliefs, worldviews, and so forth. Aside from this being my specialty here at school, I recently had the opportunity to discuss the issue with Steve Korn, Executive VP of CNN. In a nutshell as regards commercial television, it is not the voicepiece of the masses, but of the rich alone. Quick thought: One out of every four sitcom families has servants of some sort. Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the Brady Bunch both spring to mind immediately. If the working class male is portrayed, it is usually as a buffoon (Honeymooners, Simpsons). The news has more of a stake in competing with entertainment these days than in the past, for reasons far too complicated for me to explain in a short e-mail, which explains the focus on sensationalistic (or as Mr. Korn put it, "salacious") news coverage. The news (my current area I'm focusing on) assumes wealth, and Eurocentric values, because that is the target audience that the advertisers want. This results in racist news coverage (the "crack epidemic" of the 1980's, for which news coverage was disproportionately high; people may remember when Reagan held up crack purchased across the street from the White House, and it was soon after found out that it took the DEA weeks to coax the dealer over to the White House so that the crack could be purchased there), and the fact that the average news story is 105 seconds limits the amount of information that gets out, which reinforces traditional ideas, which have already been expressed. Those of you who remember the Rideout marital rape case might remember that rape reform had succeeded in Congress, but people were amazed when John Rideout got tried for raping his wife, because the idea had no way of receiving adequate news coverage. Once it did over the period of several years however, it became accepted as common sense. How does this relate to cohousing? The two most obvious ways I see that it affects cohousers more than other folk is that for one, any news coverage of cohousing is likely to portray you as a little goofy. Anyone who already sees you as a little goofy, consider that they've never seen cohousers on TV. There's a reason for that, and it has to do with the economics of television. Second, most cohousing groups I see are interested in the environment, and many recognize that different class and race backgrounds bring different world views to the community. Television is against both of these things. Television is meant to be commercially profitable. They would rather everyone be the same, than have to go for "niche markets". And let's face it, General Electric and Westinghouse, respective owners of CBS and NBC, and major defense contractors both, are frankly uninterested in the environment. While TV can bring ideas to the public's eye (Ellen coming out as a lesbian in two weeks), they can also suppress it. Where were gay and lesbian characters for the first forty years of television? Why were they given stereotyped roles for the past ten? Where are cohousers, people with third-party political beliefs, and so on in the media? You got it! Geraldo. Something to keep in mind. I guess I said more than a mouthful. . .I guess now I should divulge my sources, the books I've read on the topic. Fortunately, I have a list of most of them on my computer right here: Bennett, Lance. News: The Politics of Illusion. White Plains: Longman, 1996 Cuklanz, Lisa. Rape On Trial. Philadelphia: U Penn Press, 1996 Ack. This'll take forever. Let's do this. Dines and Humez. Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Reeves and Campbell, Cracked Coverage. Tricia Rose, Black Noise McManus, Market Driven Journalism Schudson, Discovering the News McAllister, The Commercialization of American Culture The Disney Project, Inside the Mouse Benedict, Virgin or Camp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly Kellner, Television and the Crisis of Democracy Neuman, Common Sense If anyone wants more information on the topic, or a fuller list (these are only books I've read, there are a great deal more on my "to-do" list) please e-mail me, as you can tell by the length of this message, I love to talk! Jon __ Jon Goldberg '99. ______________________ /\ | | /\ / \ Just your average guy. New #!-->/1-914-451-3068 \\ \| |/ / / /\ \ |Jogoldberg [at] vassar.edu | \ EMS / \ \/ /"However pernicious an opinion may |Pager 1-800-946-4646 | \ s / \ \/ seem, we depend on its correction on|Pager ID #:1171542 | / a \ /\ \ the. . .competition of other ideas."|Poughkeepsie,NY,12601 | /lives\ / /\ \ -Gertz v. Welsh |Box 2044 |/ /|e|\ \ \/ \/ <---------------------->\/ |s| \/
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