April 01, 2004

Another talk, another far too many comments and questions by me. (Sigh ...)

Reality television this time: the theme initially seeming to be television as a medium conveying (creating?) sense of self, but then, almost at the end of the talk, shifting to the power of the corporation to create these images ... which turned out to be the focus and raison d'ĂȘtre of the entire talk. The impression seemed to be that those who chose to be on reality television were used, exploited into an image, created by a corporation, which they learned to take as their own.

Perhaps true ... as far as it goes.

(This is always the problem with me at talks: I quite often agree with the speaker ... so far as the speaker chooses to go. Too often of late, I feel they stop far, far short of where they could go. Possibility: that by stopping short, limits of personally-created academic theory are created, limits which are defensible [and which thus create the illusion of new research required to justify one's continued existence within the knowledge community], and which act to create specialisation -- the academic "killing of the [mentor] father". And I suppose in a way I am doing the same -- only I do accept what has gone before, at least today, as valid within its own context. I just wish that I might encounter some (re)searcher who is willing to go further than I had already gone -- than seems to me to be self-evident. Maybe this is why I keep going to talks: I want, desperately want, to hear something which goes into new places, which is willing to take the risk of being wrong.)

Yet our selfhood has never yet ended at our own skins! We have always had the "Mommy, look at me!" instinct, which television (and corporations which design television viewing) have certainly seized upon in an audience-driven medium. If we have learned to speak the language of television image and to internalise the panoptic view: other (now felt to be unnecessary?) image-language / image-communication is thereby amputated. Where television provides the dominant means of self-actualisation through external image: what need for us to learn the language of face-to-face interaction? What need, even, for us to break from the image and image-response of the authoritative speaker who condescends to share this reality with us?

Reality television is incredibly cost-effective: not least because none of the people appearing on it are paid actors. Artificial environment, game construct, and maybe those participating in it are able to suspend their reality to that extent at least initially ... but when the emotions arise, be it in response to another's complete adoption of image or to an artifical structure: they are real, as no actor's can ever be.

(And that was implied to be a flaw against the learning of image!)

The contracts signed are brutal: indefinite transfer of ownership of this portion of one's own life and of all tidbits relating thereto, including any stories anyone else has to tell, be they truth or fiction, without compensation therefrom.

It is called gossip!

Workplace environments -- including universities! -- are no different in gossip, in backstabbing, in control of environment by a "greater power", in (re)creation of self-image by others: and we have willingly sold our lives to them for years.

So what is different? Maybe, only, that in reality television the identical phenomenon has become less ignore-able?

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