It is difficult to be scientific about such matters, but over the course of the last decade it certainly feels as though the intensity of the tabloid media has increased dramatically. We have progressed seamlessly from the “Golden Age of Television” to the “Pointless Bullshit Epoch”. Its a phenomenon that can undoubtedly be explained through reference to many, varied factors. The emergence of the Internet as the most powerful new medium for communication since TV has certainly had an influence. Okay, perhaps more than an influence. Today, we are all somewhere at the bottom of an information tsunami. Everyone is a producer of content now, thanks to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and of course, blogs like this one. In this environment, media producers are under more pressure than ever before to generate product that has some sort of impact; that makes some discernable splash. Interesting doesn’t cut it more. One must be outrageous!
There is more competition than there ever has been before in human history for the consumer minute, the consumer second, and even smaller units of market time. Clicking quickly through websites online, one is exposed to fistfuls of advertising – a popup opens and closes in milliseconds, a banner scrolls across the screen in the corner of one’s eye. Perhaps you also have the television on while you are reading this, or the radio. In part because we overexpose ourselves to media through technology, and in part because media has become less substantive than it has been in the past, today’s media is arguably both denser and yet intellectually shallower than it has ever been.
Ironically, as technology slowly eats its way through the empire of the so-called “dead tree” publishing houses, the modus operandi of one of the the most ubiquitous, iconic, and ultimately lightweight product lines on offer has emerged as the operating model du jour for tomorrow’s media. Long derided, declining in circulation and relevance but always more intrinsically attractive than the opposition, the “trashy mag” has at long last taken over the asylum. The “trashy mag” may not be at newsagents for too much longer, but that’s okay, because the “trashy mag” is everywhere now. It’s telecast in technicolour on your nightly television news, you can hear it vividly every day on talkback radio, and it has permeated just about every once reputable source of popular information known to humankind. You want current affairs? Oh, sorry, you’ll have to make do with this week’s con man or miracle diet. What about… sport? Well, if we get through all the latest gossip on who is in rehab and who had a few too many drinks at the pub last Friday, then we might get on to the real business of discussing which boofhead put their foot in their mouth this week. Erm, great. Even politics, the cradle of human societal advancement, must today be observed and scrutinised only through the distorted, funhouse lens of the paparazzi. There’s no alternative.
Informed discussion about topics that matter is like- yawn, boring.
ELSEWHERE: David Marr.