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11 responses to “Violence, democracy and the mass media”

  1. Link

    It would seem we earthlings are pretty bloody pissed off for one reason or another. Violence in popular culture is way OTT for me–the ubiquity of it. Violence results from fear and anger, oppression and the injustices which permeate every aspect of our lives from the crade to the grave. Even meticulously ordered socieites are enough to try anyone’s patience, maybe even particularly meticulously ordered socieites.
    I for one am sick of the war on peace.

  2. Link

    It all comes down to the un-Randian individual–I suppose. It’s pretty grim looking outwards though.

  3. dave

    My observation, our modern “peaceful, meticulously ordered societies” are founded in violence, be it invasive, colonial or revolutionary. Violence is inseparable from the notion of law despite the idea that law somehow replaces violence, rather as is fairly obvious, law and the state strive to monopolise the capacity for violence as an act of protecting itself from violence insurrection.

    Violence in the mass media is another matter…perhaps its function is to induce apathy and fear, but it appears as sensation.

  4. jules

    “We might not “like” violence; indeed many or most of us despise it, but it sure does tend to get our attention.”

    Violence is where power “comes from.” (One of the “places” anyway.) Everyone’s fascinated by power on some level, especially if they don’t have much over their own life. Thats part of the fascination with it. Its ability to get attention.

  5. su

    I guess the crime novels and tv serials, along with televised sport are the circuses of our day. Some clever forbear of the Romans realised that a populace will sate itself on vicarious violence and be thereby rendered less likely to violently object to the everyday covert violence of an oppressive or exploitative society. I had to chuckle at the reactions of Wall Street financial types to the anger directed at them after the global meltdown. You got a very strong sense of the crowd momentarily removing its eyes from the arena and turning to look at those seated in the boxes above, and didn’t their betters howl about it. How dare the plebs object to the heist of the century. Don’t be so mean, they whined, stuffing their pockets with loot from the state coffers.

    It is pretty interesting what is happening in popular culture at the moment. There is an incredible glut of supernatural superhero stuff, I wonder to what extent it is like the 19th Century Gothic novels and whether it serves a similar function? Change is in the air and people are anxious. Are all these vampyres and werewolves and superhumans serving as soporifics or catalysts or a little of both?

  6. Paul Burns

    Violence has frequently been part of our popular culture. eg the end of Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, Jacobean Drama, the inherent personal violence against women in paericular in Smollett;s Peregrine Pickle which I found most oppressive reading years ago, Richarson’s Clarissa whith its underplay of sexual violence. Edgar Allen Poe, credited with the creation of the detective story was a master of violence and horror. Dickens reflects tje same in some of his work, eg Our Mutual Friend.
    What we are seeing in 21st century popular culture is simply adaptation of eternal narrative concerns to ‘new’ media.

  7. Aidan

    What [email protected] said.

    The demonstrations in London are a particularly poor example. It was clear from independent sources that the Police intimidated the protestors, using “kettling” techniques to jam them into confined spaces for long periods of time (many hours), often in very cold conditions. Many times giving false or misleading information about how demonstrators could exit.

    It was designed to put them under pressure. I’m not sure of the psychology behind it, as it was almost certain to provoke some violent response, but perhaps it is about appearing to retain the upper hand and appearance of control?

    Was it also a plan to delegitimise the protest by provoking violence? Hard to say, but it was blindingly obvious that the mainstream media line was mostly focussed on violence, and condemnatory of the actions of protestors. In stark contrast the many front line reports from people on the ground (not always protestors) was quite different. They faced serious, and in many cases unwarranted, intimidation from the police.

    I think I’m off topic.

  8. Keithy

    Racist Propaganda prepares us all for war!

    Violent Propaganda is the same thing: preparation!!

    ….where is the journalism? Perhaps we should be asking, “What is Journalism?”


  9. harleymc

    Chuck on a pair of high heels and a short skirt, or maybe come chaps with your privates hanging out. Youtube hits for sure. 3 cheers for slutwalk – bringing back 50’s skirt styles fo’ shure!
    Does it take violence to get hits… I mean seriously ((or serio-sortingly?)) this is a blog site for people who (before the corporates thought of it) ‘thunk outside the box’.

    WTF? Power is multi-centred forget this top down paradigm that the bashar-beast would all have us suckling on. Make your own fun, if you’d like to.

  10. harleymc

    oh that top-down paradigm thing slipped out again.
    Lavartus gets caught in the recursive paradigm that the priveleged few shall blog and the peasants may comment there-on.
    Lavartus could be nicely opened up by a good hit from Anonymous?

  11. Guy

    Aidan @7, I don’t think there was really much in the way of kettling going on at the March anti-cuts protests. After all the controversy from prior incidents, I think the Met is cooling on kettling as a tool for controlling large crowds.

    su @ 5, the superhero angle is interesting. Many of these films seem a kind of celebration of the application of force and violence, centred in particular individuals. Strange warped reflections there too in the recent fad for individual acts of extreme violence and terror.

    Link @1, I wonder if people are slowly starting to tire of meticulously ordered societies? The Arab Spring has largely been interpreted in the MSM as a reaction to tyranny, but it’s hard not to wonder to what extent it has been an expression of boredom and frustration with governments (whether democratic or not) that do not deliver or live up to people’s soaring expectations.