Media fetishes and our loss of perspective

15 Apr

Helen Razer went on a twitter rampage (twitpage?) today, against people who… well, against people who go on twitter rampages about things. Specifically, about people who use the media (blogs, opinion articles et al included) to complain about what she perceives to be trivial aspects of culture, while, poll by poll, the last grains of liberalism slip through our hands and we march towards the terrifying spectre of a big conservative broom that will sweep the country.

An inability to see the forest for the trees. A simplistic, micro-focused kind of selfishness. A collective whining that is intended to drown out the deafening roar of our society’s bigger failings, to make ourselves feel better, makes us feel like we are doing something real.

She is accusing us of playing the world’s tiniest violin while Rome burns.Image

Helen Razer losing her shit. This is only a snapshot – there are a lot more.

Specifically, she seems to have a beef with writing about sexism and sexuality. And while my immediate impulse is to spit on my computer monitor, rip off my top and run around the building, waving my arms manically and proclaiming my right to write about any issue that affects me, I have quieted my little crazy homunculus… and on reflection, I reluctantly concede that she has a point.

Sexuality, sexism, endemic discrimination, body image – these are all things that matter. But how much do we have to write about it? Why do we consume it so voraciously? I have a sneaking suspicion that while some very clever and serious people have devoted time to these issues, we may sometimes over-do it – for sinister, unconscious reasons.

Do we like reading about rape culture, body image, Alan Jones, sexist advertising and rainbow crossings because these things are about sex? Because they are about women’s bodies? Because they are not only enraging (and let’s admit it, everyone loves to feel passionately angry every now and then) but because they are also titillating? Are we accidentally fetishising the very things we are trying to liberate?

And in getting lost in all this titillating rage, have we lost all perspective, and abandoned and forgotten what really matters?

These questions aren’t rhetorical. I haven’t made up my mind. Please let me know what you think.

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