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PostNarrative Expectation: We Need Somebody to Demonize (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 01/18/19 3:11 am)
Gary Moore writes:
Thanks to Bert Westbrook (January 17th) for his insightful confirmation of my "Simple Media Narratives" post.
As a journalist, when digging reveals hypocrisy or blindness in mainstream media narratives, I get the queasy feeling of my own life and aims being balanced atop nothingness. And though antidote appears occasionally in the intrepid counter-exposé, time has shown that this is often one more pipe dream: A lone voice not only goes into the crackpot bin, but there is the deeper problem of even phrasing a counter-narrative when so much resistance must be replied to at every turn. Bert's phrase, "narrative expectation," goes a ways toward explaining why large parts of journalism can be undermined (however privately) if the primary evidence is sifted. As Bert said, a reader looks for a "story," a manageable packet of meaning, and manageability often means it must repeat what the reader already expects--that is, prejudice is built in. It may be of the left or right, but unfortunately the punch often demands an ancient standard in human interpretation: demonization, somebody to lynch.
I wrote the post after a long period of digging into a recent news theme, the immigrant "caravan" phenomenon at the southern US border. I didn't know at the outset that this was one of those periodic topics bringing out some of the worst in journalism, as the temptations of story-packaging emotion--thrilling crusade and desperate need--leap to precedence over inconvenient background facts, the hiding of which can seem insignificant, or even a badge of honor in inflated, bafflingly shallow concealers. After other long experiences, I think this topic was doubly doomed, simply because it involves that "other America," the part of North America that speaks Spanish, that is, Mexico and now prominently Central America, whose image is summed up in strategy-speak as "the underbelly"--or, more poetically by James Agee, in a bygone paean to supposed wanton passion, calling Latin America "that woman."
North-of-the-border ignorance about Latin America, awe-inspiring as it is, takes strength from the region's own patterns of tumult, which leave examination up for grabs. That feeling of balancing atop nothingness multiplied as I finally wrote what would be my post on the immigrant caravans. Even a sympathetic reader should perhaps not be asked to wade through the resulting twists. Ambivalence keeps popping up everywhere: that pesky lack of a unified call to crusade. The post is soon to follow.
JE comments: The lone voice ends up in the crackpot bin--Gary Moore couldn't have said it more concisely. Yet the "vox" in the desert is also what we demand from our heroes. Is it the Quixote factor--both heroic...and insane?
Gary has already sent his post on the immigrant caravans. Before the light of today wanes, it will see the light of day.