A media student who doesn’t watch films or TV? A writing enthusiast who doesn’t read fiction? Nice to meet you too.

Here’s the deal: Media is about mind control. Reinforcing the status quo. Obeying the establishment. Sleep. Don’t think. Be happy. Consume.

I don’t want perfumed stories and perfect characters. I don’t want to read about dreamy islands and fairy tales. I need to know my own world. That’s much more interesting. I need to know the truth – harsh and scary, sometimes. Not always picture-perfect. But it’s there – living and breathing.

The more I find out about media instruments and the power of language, the less I am inclined to take part in this brainwashing. Especially on a large scale. Media corporations, anyone? Dream job in the BBC or Hollywood? Here’s some food for thought:

So yes. I do watch films. Documentary, above all. Or at least based on real events. Life is too interesting to ignore.

In the context of this film, it might sound shallow to be ‘on a journey of self-discovery’ – because that’s where I am in life right now. It’s not just self-discovery. It’s getting to know myself in the context of life, the universe and everything. I don’t want to be ‘somewhere else’ – I want to be here, to experience it all, to see, observe, to learn and reflect. I want to document it, to share the insights. I am not interested in small talk – be it on social media, being polite or lying to people how good everything is. No, it’s not all good. Some of what’s going on around us is terrible. But you know what: out there in the real world, predators kill smaller animals to survive. The weak and inadaptable don’t last. So we’re having it pretty cosy here.

Of course, they don’t have an economic system like we do – that’s why. They don’t need everyone to stay alive and be catered for. Nature is in constant imbalance. Nothing is certain. The rabbit might make it back home – or might get eaten halfway through. They don’t make plans. They don’t have appointments. And they don’t fool themselves everything is fine – because it’s not.

So yeah, probably that’s why I invested four hours of my life to see this film, but I refuse to spend 90 minutes to see the latest heart-warming story. When I saw ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, all I was thinking was: ‘Why is the soundscape so artificial?’ When I saw ‘The King’s Speech’, I was thinking: ‘So here is how the BBC helped the British Empire’.

Call me too serious if you like. That’s your choice. I choose to ask questions.

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6 thoughts on “A media student who doesn’t watch films or TV? A writing enthusiast who doesn’t read fiction? Nice to meet you too.

    • I don’t really ‘avoid’ it, it’s more about not *making* time to give it attention.
      I am certain we can’t escape the influence of it – it’s too strong and too ubiquitous – but we can become aware of it. Something like ‘Know your enemy’. Plus, we are all products of the society and contexts we live in – we’re not living in a vacuum.
      Everything is subjective, so there isn’t a simple ‘truth’. The only thing I’m trying to do is not leave these statements unchallenged. I ask questions.

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  1. Looking forward to watching the documentary shortly. Too long to watch it right this moment. However, I wanted to comment about the idea of predators and small prey. Now, I’m taking an evolutionary biology perspective so that’s my little rule book that I’m drawing from here. Part of the reason there is a status quo is that some smaller physically weaker animals join together and become social as a way to escape predators. Group think is a useful survival skill because some species must work as a unit to avoid predators. Surviving is certainly an individual struggle but sociality (and the submission of self to the needs of the group) is sometimes a useful addon.

    I do not think that there is a right or wrong way to seek knowledge though. Mostly I find myself delighted by all the nonfiction out there but enjoy writing fiction. There’s value to choosing which rules you believe have worth for your life and choosing which ones do not but certainly one can only do this by keeping their senses open and asking a ton of questions.

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    • Very good point, I’m taking note. It’s not that I actively avoid fiction – I’ve just come to notice I don’t dedicate time to it.

      I do not think that there is a right or wrong way to seek knowledge

      I totally agree here. And I am also reminded of something I truly believe: that you can’t love or hate something until you get to know it. I shouldn’t be that ignorant and ‘assuming’ things without giving them a chance.

      Re: the documentary: It’s four 60-minute parts, you might look here for the separate episodes: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=century+of+self&aq=f

      Great insight from an evolutionary biology perspective, thank you so much for this note! Helps to shine some light on my concerns and give them a more structured thought. It’s amazing what has come out of people coming together – both good and bad (although, who are we to judge?).

      By the way, if you enjoy the style of this film, there is another recent series by the same author (Adam Curtis) – ‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’. It deals with the relationships between society / nature / machines, and is trying to explain the state of today’s technological society – some of the points I make in the post have to do with me watching the films last month.

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      • Finally got around to watching this! I really wanted to watch it in one sitting. So much to think about. Thank you for linking it.

        Two things I wanted to say in reaction to it though:
        It seems to me that the shift in focus on the self and a corporate system of government began around the time that new territories were opened (ie the Americas and Australia). Although people brought with them old ways, the new opportunities and risks created a visible alternative. The fact that the groups that settled were from diverse backgrounds created that necessary catalyst to be unified by something new. And given the richness of the new territories in combination with a demand for the goods–that sort of set the stage. Certainly its more complex (and I’d love to hear your thoughts) but I don’t think Freud deserves quite so much credit for launching the focus on the self and consumerism. I think he helped to get the seedlings to their next stage.

        I also wonder if there was perhaps an overstatement of the power of business. Or conversely the weakness of the consumer. I think often its the case that people create institutions to distance themselves when the bad choices they make cause problems for the society they live in. The power given over seems to be given with that caveat.

        I’ll have to look into the other Adam Curtis series. Last year I took an amazing class on Literature and the Environment which dealt with the society/nature relationship.

        Would love to hear more of your thoughts on both subjects!

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  2. Re: C. R. Lanei on 5 August 2011 at 08:07

    To be honest, I don’t know enough about American and Australian history to be able to express an opinion. What I do agree with, though, is that the Freudian ideas are not the only reason, and shouldn’t be given all the credit for this shift in values. I do, however, think, they were a very timely catalyser.

    I think often its the case that people create institutions to distance themselves when the bad choices they make cause problems for the society they live in.

    Wonderfully put, and I think there is a nuance of the dichotomy ‘business – consumer’ – for me, it’s not that much about being (as the British say) ‘a member of the public’ vs. a corporation. I think it has to do more with generally being a ‘passive’ vs. ‘pro-active’ member of society. When you are pro-active, you get to choose more things in your life and influence other people’s choices (eg. the business owners). While being ‘passive’ means having choices made for you and often buying in to the idea that looks ‘good enough’. It’s much deeper than that, one day I might write a dedicated post about it, it’s concepts I’ve been thinking about lately.

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