Saturday, May 13, 2006

Talk the talk. Banal is cool.

Where do celebrity (a former Miss India) and non-celebrity (starving farmers) suicides rate on a scale of zero to 9? Going purely by the media coverage of the events, I don’t have to tell you the answer. Pierre Bourdieu’s On Television, published in English in 1998 at the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky soap opera on the American Idiot Box, deals among other things with the ratings game. For this French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher and champion of anti-globalisation, television is the “space for narcissistic exhibitionism”. “Talking heads” inhibit this space on talk shows: the “fast thinkers” who spout sound bytes on demand, banalities mostly, and dominate the “slow thinkers” who cannot match their pace. His analysis helps to explain why, despite all the information available to us on television, we aren't getting any smarter Just switch on any of the “panel discussion” shows to check out the truth of this observation. Read a review of On Television: Learn more about Bourdieu (1930 -2002):

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