Monday, May 9, 2011

The Pornography Principle

The media , the television news media in particular, have a fetish over what Bill Maher termed 'disaster porn' or the well done but over-analyzed news stories that cover death and destruction in every corner in the earth that it can be found. the coverage of these stories are necessary and are in the mandate of modern news media to inform the public, however in this this pursuit of not only the disaster or the various tales of human misery paraded to audiences in a much cooler political climate in the search for viewership, reveals the pornography principle that underlies coverage of such disaster. 

The pornography principle described so far is not meant to allude to the sexual context which the word 'pornography' immediately signifies but to the point at the heart of pornography itself, that being, sex (in the word 'pornography' original context with regard to its meaning), on a scale, (or quality) most will not experience.In pornography, the physical and psychological barriers that may impede on average person's sex life are absent as the participants placed in front of the viewer enjoy sex at a scale most people will never come across, thus what is left is the fantasy, which serves the purpose of stimulation to the viewer. 

Apply the pornography principle to news media with regard to coverage of disasters, the principles holds the same only the context (political, economic, ecological disaster) and consequence (human misery) changes with the stimulus intent on invoking shock or fear. In the 24 hour news cycle this principle is exacerbated with a echo chamber effect caused by the same news constantly referred to on every news channel regardless of location and viewership. 

The viewer is then over saturated with powerful images  which becomes devoid of the context of the news story, thus the consequence of this process ensures news no longer informs but provides spectacle, presenting images of disaster and human misery on a scale the viewer will never encounter. With this spectacle the telos of news reporting (informing the public) becomes lost in the parading of spectacle with stimulation provided by it, though negative, is as captivating as the images found in the pornographic in it's proper context. In sum, the pornography principle in  news media can be pernicious so long as the viewer is aware of has the means to derive context of the spectacle presented to him or her.                    

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