Friday, 16 March 2018

media interference

Back for its fourth season, the US National Public Radio podcast Invisibilia (previously) recently released a provocative episode made to make one resort to uncomfortable questions of moral equivalency and whataboutism with the story of the United Nations attempt to undermine the hegemony of an extremist organisation with pageantry, or in other words—to shape reality through reality television.
Somalia, the UN attempted to restore a degree of normalcy with a broadcast talent-show that embodied all the hallmarks of engagement with the liberal democratic process—to include judging on merit, respect for established and agreed-upon parameters and the exercise of free and secret balloting. Relying on an extensive body of research from sociologists who recognised the persuasive value of not only rhetoric but also of the poetic—since our cognition is attuned to storytelling, found that messaging, given the right platform, while it fails to change fundamental beliefs and core values can and does cause a paradigm shift in terms of accepted norms. All of a sudden, it becomes socially acceptable that one’s neighbours might be hauled away as infidels just as elsewhere regressive and racist points of view become again accepted and maybe those outliers are courting retribution down the line. Hosting a Western-style television reality competition maybe did not eliminate extremism in the region, just as the effect of Russian meddling is difficult to gauge for the political landscape of the United States and others, both are examples of social engineering and surely the sewing of discord is in the eye of the opposition. The story of this covert commission is nonetheless an inspiring and transformative one to hear.