I grew up in a different era than my students, in a time when the adventures described by wanderers like Hemingway or Kerouac still seemed plausible; like, okay, the world has changed quite a bit since then, and there are more channels on television, but leaving the world of what you know and getting lost in the elsewhere is still possible.
The photo op is an example of what historian Daniel Boorstin called a “pseudo-event,” an event that takes place solely for the purpose of being covered by the press. Closely related is the staged photo, supplied by institutions of all stripes to project an idealized and in essence persuasive image via the credible medium of the press.
National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre may be the extremist voice of “the gun lobby,” but virtually every single one of us is an active promoter, and consumer, of gun culture.
Imagine you are a farmer. You invest in land, seed, equipment and labor. The overhead is tremendous but your crop grows true. Then, at harvest time, a pack of freebooting strangers charges across your land, harvests your crop, sells it at market and kicks back not a cent. To subsist, you gather up what stray stalks remain and sell them by the roadside. This is the current business model of American journalism.
Journalists, like playwrights and personal injury lawyers, love conflict. A house divided against itself may not stand, but it makes a really neat picture crashing down. This is why the news media, particularly local TV, are covering the upcoming G-20 economic summit like an impending Super Bowl or, better, a post-Super Bowl riot in Oakland.
On Tuesday Sept. 11, as midnight approached, I reluctantly reached out and turned off the television. Like every American, I felt shocked, sickened, dispirited.