The current hoofaraw about CNN misses part of the point. All the cable channels commit the same crimes against facts all the time. The crime can be described in terms of centralized vs modularized literary forms.
Before cable, news stories were built exactly the same way as short stories. A one-sentence intro, then the BIG EVENT that CHANGES EVERYTHING, then the resolution as the character figures out how to deal with the big event. The story was a SELF-CONTAINED MODULE of one or two pages in a book, or a few columns on a newspaper page.
After cable, news stories were built exactly the same way as SOAP OPERAS. There is no structure or plot, only characters. Each story must last at least six months, and each day's episode advances the story microscopically.
Instead of action and events, a soap opera consists of TALKING ABOUT TALKING, or TALKING ABOUT NOT TALKING, or TALKING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT NOT NOT TALKING ABOUT TALKING ..... among the many characters.
In the older form of soap opera, A asks B if she heard that C and D were in the bar talking about why E wasn't phoning up F to tell F about G's suspiciously cheerful tone
when G complained about H and I meeting ... ad infinitum.
In the cable form of soap opera, A asks B if he will condemn C and D for investigating why E wasn't ordering F to refuse to condemn G's suspiciously cheerful tone
when G held a press conference complaining about H and I conspiring ... ad infinitum.
Fox established this form using the OJ trial, then CNN and the others picked it up.
In both the "entertainment" and "news" versions, soap operas are aimed exclusively at female audiences. Only women can record and keep track of these multi-layered talkpiles. Men want to hear what HAPPENED and what you're DOING about it. Event and action. Short stories.
= = = = =
A soap opera has no center or walls. It sprawls indefinitely. You can skip ten days and miss nothing, because nothing moves.
Short stories are like counties or townships in pre-Lincoln America, or duchies in pre-Kaiser Europe, or small businesses in a proper capitalist economy, or cells and organs and creatures in the economy of life. Each has a distinct center and a distinct flavor, and all are competing for your attention and favor. You know when you're in one and you know when you're out of one.
Soap operas are like Amazon or EU or WTO. Each consumes everything in sight, turning it all into gray undifferentiated mush that can be securitized and derivitized. There is no in or out. You are always in the same story, or always in Amazon, or always in EU.
Fitting a soap opera onto the chunky and modular facts of reality isn't easy. You absolutely have to CHANGE REALITY to make it work. You can't know in advance that this particular crime or this particular political "scandal" will last six months, so you have to rebuild the crime or scandal to fill the available time. Parkinson, of course.
Everything must be global. Corporations, countries, churches, organizations, stories, facts. Nothing can be modular or chunky. Globalism is global.
Labels: defensible spaces