Monday, January 29, 2007


"To look at the world, no longer from the heights as Æschylus, Plato, Dante and Goethe did, but from the standpoint of oppressive actualities is to exchange the bird’s perspective for the frog’s.”
-O. Spengler, The Decline of the West

Saturday afternoon I spent some time looking at coverage of the protests in Washington and elsewhere. One thing I noticed was that none of the photos of the protest that I found contained any attempt to look at the crowd in its entirety, or even a large part of the crowd. I would expect that either a overhead shot, or a shot from the podium looking out at the crowd would have sufficed to get a measure, if not a count.

I sent an email about this to Michael Shaw of BagnewsNotes, which specializes in the use of images by the press, he's got a humorous post up that discusses the coverage.

This technique is becoming more and more standard in the media, and not just for news events. Sports coverage on television, especially that of baseball, rarely shows any perspective of the crowd or the field, closeups of the players, the managers, and faces in the crowd fills up the time between pitches which is usually a shot of just the pitcher and the catcher.

What is the purpose of this lack of perspective? It is a way to control the audience. Lacking perspective makes the audience dependent upon other techniques, in baseball the announcers, in the news the captions or the stories themselves. The size of the Washington protest was usually described as being either in the 'thousands' or 'tens of thousands'. Both, of course, are accurate, but so would be 'hundreds'; you the reader are not allowed to make a judgment on the size of the event.

So the bird's perspective is denied us, we are shown the view of the frog, and the pieces that are too far above our heads are given or denied according to the purposes of the press.



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6/07/2010 12:29 AM  

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