The dark side of Oz

How do you turn mat art into a viral video? Sci-Fi’s Tin Man series has this wormhole site that draws you into its various worlds– one after another. It’s a compelling visual fantasy; you have to give the creators credit for having cajones to tackle the Oz story and contemporize it with darker themes. I don’t know if they can top Gregory Maquire’s Wicked, which envisions Oz through the eyes of the Wicked Witch, but given the trend of recent remakes, I bet it’s a fairly bleak retelling.

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The fantasy of virtual control

I’ll admit that watching this short video made me cry. Not because I believe all of its arguments–that war and our opinions can be controlled virtually, or that journalism is the answer to our problem of war–but because our military technological mind is getting so out of whack that it increasingly is turning people into aliens who can abstract death and destruction. Still, I’m not afraid because hypocrisy is not sustainable. The control fantasy future of the military planners is founded on nothing substantial except destruction. Some day the only thing left to destroy will be destruction itself. But it’s depressing to see this process in action. To quote the opening of The Great Turning (a book about moving our culture from one of empire to earth community),

[This book is] George W. Bush, whose administration exposed to full view the imperial shadow side of U.S. democracy, stripped away the last of the illusions of my childhood innocence. and compelled me to write this book.

Televisual zoos?

An interesting commentary on new animal programs with their shifting narrative arcs designed to satisfy human agendas. I think wildlife programs are a double-edge sword. On the one hand it gives us a more intimate understanding of the animal world, on the other hand if further promotes a sense of separation, first by “othering” animals as something “out there,” second by making nature into an entertainment spectacle, and third excluding humans from a relationship of partnership.

AlterNet: Movie Mix: The Animal Kingdom Storms Reality TV and the Documentary Industry:

But for as much as Meerkat Manor sounds like Laguna Beach and Arctic Tale looks like Survivor, such word play might not be enough. Roger Scruton, a research professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences who writes widely on animal rights issues suggests we need a new framework for our animal-human relationships. He argues that “negotiation, compromise and agreement” are the foundation of all human communities and that rather than assigning animals rights based on a moral framework, we should give them rights based on how we use them: as pets, food or scientific study.

BTW, if the subject of nature and media are interesting to you, I highly recommend the following book,



TV is dead: cell phones to be rated by Nelson

This small news item may go down in history as a Rubicon moment. Nelson Company who compiles ratings of US television audiences now considers phones a serious programming outlet that deserves tracking. This confirms my suspicion that television is a transient fact, although I wouldn’t say that it will die. It will just mutate. Just like humans.

Your TV Is Ringing: Nielsen To Track Cellphone Videos – Media on The Huffington Post:

Cellphones are rapidly becoming ubiquitous and the Nielsen Company, the longtime monitor of television consumption, wants in.

Nielsen said yesterday that it had agreed to acquire Telephia, a private company based in San Francisco, for an undisclosed amount. Since its founding in 1998, Telephia has become one of the most respected sources of data about cellphone use — tracking consumers’ phone calling, mobile Web surfing, video viewing and just about everything else. Nielsen has been building mobile tracking products on its own, but Telephia will greatly advance its ability to track media consumption on every screen, Nielsen executives said.

Is it really only getting worse?


Truthdig – Interviews – Media Critic on Why It’s Only Getting Worse:

Once upon a time, TV news put journalists on camera. Today, cable news has on-air “talent”—who are “cast,” not just hired. A Walter Cronkite would have big trouble getting a job today in TV news. But an actor? No problem. CNN a few years ago cast a former actress from “NYPD Blue” as one of its “Headline News” anchors. At Fox News, where lip gloss and blond hair go further than a background in journalism, I could find no proof to the charge that executives reviewed audition tapes of potential female anchors with the sound turned off.

Jeff Cohen, a founder of FAIR, has been one of the best media watchdogs of the era. His new book, Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, is out. It’s probably a good read (and funny too, I’m sure), but I wonder if it’s worth caring anymore about how bad cable news is. Do people really care what they say? Do these networks really have that much influence on people’s opnions? I’m thinking out loud here, but I’m guessing that we place more importance on this kind of programming than the actual impact. I wonder if these networks exist within a self-genereating reality and the Internet will bypass them as it has with newspapers. What do you think?

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News war


Watch it online.

FRONTLINE: news war: introduction | PBS:

Bergman traces the recent history of American journalism, from the Nixon administration’s attacks on the media and the post-Watergate popularity of the press to new obstacles presented by the war on terror and changing economics in the media business and the Internet. The topic has special resonance for Bergman, whose career as a journalist for FRONTLINE, The New York Times, ABC News and 60 Minutes has included reporting on the issues that are critical to the current controversies. “There has been a perfect storm brewing in the world of news,” says Bergman. “Not since the Nixon administration has there been this level of hostility leveled at news organizations. … [But] unlike the confrontations of 35 or more years ago, today’s news war sees the very economic foundations of the business shifting.”

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