The Predictable Banality of the After-Massacre Media
July 21, 2012 - 5:16 am
I would like to propose that anyone and everyone who writes anything about the massacre in Colorado save their work and, when the next mass killing occurs, simply republish the article, plugging in the new names, dates, and places where appropriate.
This will not only save time and effort, but, since we’ve already read what pundits have to say and we know all the arguments by heart, we won’t have to read it again. Thus, the news-consuming public will be spared the angst-ridden diatribes against guns, or immorality, or our broken mental health system, or violence in the media, or how it’s the left’s fault or the right’s fault — even articles like this one that complain about pundits writing about the same subjects every time a mass shooting occurs.
The post-massacre media environment gives true meaning to the cliche “deja vu” — “already seen” according to Wikipedia. I challenge anyone to come up with anything original written by anyone in the last 24 hours that didn’t follow the now traditional meme-making and narrative-setting path that every major public bloodletting has followed in the last decade.
1. The immediate rush to judgment by right and left to set the narrative before all but the sketchiest outline of what happened has emerged. Social media has only exacerbated the problem, as what used to take a few hours to infect blogs and news websites now occurs in minutes.
2. It’s always a race between “immorality” and “lack of gun control” to see which meme will emerge first.
3. A connection to something a liberal or conservative commentator has said will be posited and promoted as “the cause” of the massacre.
4. Each side will blame the other for “politicizing the tragedy.”
5. Some will blame all the publicity surrounding the event — wall to wall coverage on the cable nets, thousands of articles and blog posts, and perhaps millions of tweets — which gives disturbed individuals the idea that they can become famous by taking out kids at a school, or a mall, or a movie theater.
6.The mainstream press, in editorial after editorial, will cement the memes advanced by pundits, bemoan the incivility in our culture that allows massacres to occur, and almost always recommend some form of gun control as a way to address the problem.