Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Required reading for anyone who doubts that we live in a narcissitic age

"Being Amanda Berry" is the current headline on the piece Emily Bazelon has written in response to the astounding events in Cleveland. The article itself is even more irritating than the headline.

I think it's the third headline to appear on the piece since yesterday. Headlines can be incendiary items and often make a reasonable article look bad. In this case, we see the opposite phenomenon. The headlines keep getting changed in an attempt to make the monstrous self involvement of the piece underneath seem reasonable.

After three paragraphs rehearsing the facts of this and similar cases, Bazelon gets down to the real issue: Emily Bazelon and how the story makes her feel. From there she goes into how the movie The Silence of the Lambs made her feel. (I'm not making this up.)
I could easily imagine myself as that naive, trusting girl. The movie terrified me so much that I turned down a summer job I’d wanted as a caretaker on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Suddenly I couldn’t handle the idea of being alone and exposed.
Does Bazelon think she is the only one who sometimes fantasizes about bad things happening to her? Or is the problem rather that she thinks she should be served up with narratives that make her life meaningful?  I ask that because the very next line in her piece is this:
This is the opposite of empowering
That's true, it isn't empowering. Was it supposed to be? Are women owed empowerment? There are other stories that are empowering for women. Isn't it inevitable, given the existence of evil in the world, that there will be stories that are the opposite of empowerment? Think how ridiculous a man would sound if he claimed that some type of news story wasn't empowering for him.

Most of all, note the corrupting power of journalism. Notice how very often journalists convince themselves that the story is really about them. It's rarely as extreme as this case but it happens all the time.

1 comment:

  1. Its amazing isn't it how corrupted Journalism has become. It used to be about objectively reporting the facts, and editorializing was left to the editorials. The lines have become so blurred, especially since the birth of the "op-ed" piece. Now everyone can editorialize and do.