Monday, October 27, 2008

How Free Is Free?, Part Two

Regular "OS" commenter Lewis Lovhaug has a new comic book you can download called "Revolution Of The Mask." Sort of like "The Watchmen" meets "V For Vendetta" (something to tide you over until the inevitable crossover), "Revolution Of The Mask concerns a society where all media is vetted and censored. Obviously, his comic book is a fantasy, a least as it pertains to the U.S. and all other freedom-loving nations of the world.

Yet, the website Project Censored has a list of 25 legitimate and important news stories that have blacked-out by the mainstream media (or, MSM). These stories aren't of the "tinfoil brigade" type, but include information about threats to our basic liberties, our security, and our health. In fact, the venerable Walter Cronkite wrote of Project Censored, "Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcast outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism."

Why wouldn't the MSM cover these stories? The reasons are Conflict Of Interest, and I Don't Want To Be Targeted Or Have Any Threat To The Comfortable Lifestyle To Which I Am Accustomed To. In the former, the entities mentioned in the news stories might have or potentially have some business relationship with the media company in question. In the latter, there is the threat to the media company of some sort of vague and ugly retribution, possibly involving either the FCC, the IRS, or the head of a horse.

But even if we had a fearless and intrepid Edward (or Edwina) R. Murrow to cover these controversial topics, we would still need a receptive audience who would actually give a shit. Unfortunately, the tired and harried 9-to5 worker who trudges home after a long day in their ergonomically-designed salt mines might not want to get depressed further by sad facts regarding matters beyond their control. A story regarding them losing their basic human rights would only make them feel more helpless, whereas a mentally-disturbed Britney Spears skinny-dipping in a stranger's swimming pool is kinda hot. And so the market determines the the content of the media.

For all these reasons, it seems to be The Comedy Show that is most able to bring sensitive and often censored stories to light. Seeming jesters such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher are too goofy to really be a threat -- right? With a spoonful of ironic sugar, they often end up feeding us more important issues -- and/or are more blunt -- than the MSM itself. And when confronted on the matter, they can simply lift their hands up like any storefront fortune teller and say, "for entertainment purposes only!!!!"

Of course, a tiny industry concerned with the production of Funny Books doesn't add up to a hill of beans in the face of the larger media machine, and what we are looking at in this post might not have any relevance to said industry or related MSM at all. Still, though we are but humble comic book fans and creators, it is always good to periodically revisit these topics.

However, I realize after such a heavy topic, a palette cleanser is necessary:


  1. HA! Val, as always your commentary is inciteful and wonderful, and I'm not just saying that because you openly promoted Revolution of the Mask. ^_~

    I do sometimes wonder about people who claim that the USA is constantly having the constitution trampled on and that free speech doesn't exist anymore, especially in regards to comedians who openly mock politicans (and even though I'm a Conservative, I find Tina Fey's rendition of Sarah Palin to be one of the funniest things SNL has done in years) to any kind of open criticism of the government in newspapers, magazines, or protests.

    I'm not stupid enough to imagine that the government never infringes on rights and that there have been many such incidents, but I don't think it's to the degree that some would ascribe to it. I am rather peeved, though, about journalism's decline over the last few years, in regards to politics, but especially in the regard you brought up with Project Censored and either being afraid to tell a story or out of a conflict of interest. I wonder if the Lois Lane archetype who'd take on a mayor for corruption or always attempt to speak objectively (I think DCU: Decisions is a crappy story, but I do like how Lois continues to hate the assignment of trying to figure out Superman's political position because it isn't news). The media's obsession with celebrity figures creeps me out, as well.

    Still, since I'd rather not end on a downer or a serious note, either, allow me to say this:

    This is a serious thread. You can tell because I'm wearing my serious hat.

  2. Anonymous12:53 PM

    "Breast Honk Monthly"... is that an Image book?

  3. "as always your commentary is inciteful"

    true, true

  4. ""Breast Honk Monthly"... is that an Image book?"

    It's actually my rejected Vertigo pitch. I kept telling them that the title was ironic, but they just wouldn't listen to me.

  5. "palette cleanser"... is that like washing your mouth out with soap?
    Media Matters is another good site which monitors the media.

  6. Anonymous12:06 PM

    I wouldn't mind reading: "Stan the Man's: Adventures of Marvelous Boobies"... Sorry... I had to go there.

  7. Project Censored? Aren't those the guys who actually published a top censored story from 2007 that advocates 9/11 conspiracy theories? Why yes, yes they are. I'm thinking these guys aren't, or at least shouldn't be, at the top of anyone's list of reliable news sources.