Friday, 13 January 2012

Why I don't believe in a media-driven society

I'll start by simply copying out a passage I wrote when I was 19 and just waking up to the world with adult eyes:

"What Makes the World Go Round?
Sex and money.
Sex and money rule the world and I hate it.
Surely there's more to life. That can't be it. That can't be the meaning of life, surely. The reason for everything- the reason for the universe and water and earth and light and existance- to have sex and make money?
It's a very sad world if that really is it, but I can't help thinking that's about as far as it goes for humans.
I mean, just look at us. Everything in the world leads back to sex or money. Almost all advertising has sex in it somewhere, and the point of advertising is to sell things and make money.
TV: it's all about sex. I was just watching 'Celebrity Love Island.' What a pile of shite, but we watch it in our thousands just to see if some z list celebrity (who is only famous because people would like to sleep with them) gets it on with another z list celebrity.
I don't want to have to bring myself down to this level of existance, where sex and money are all that really count, but how can I avoid it? I've got to make money to survive. And I want to have relationships but it seems that I'm not going to be able to get into anything unless I'm willing to sleep with the bloke before I even know him.
I'm being pressured by a society I don't want to be a part of, but I can't get away from.
I don't want to have to accept that this is all life is about but everything seems to say that it is. Neil was only interested in me when he thought he was going to get sex, and when I didn't give it to him straight away he blanked me. So that's all I've got to offer then? I'm a body to have sex with. And all the talking and touching and getting to know each other, that's just an inconvenience that you have to put up with to get to the sex. 'It would be so much better if you could just skip all that and get straight down to it, but you've got to keep the ladies happy.' I feel like such a toy."

The first thing you need to bear in mind when you read this is that I was having a bit of a shitter when I wrote it! I'm not always this negative about men, as you'll find if you continue to read this blog!
But, saying this, I think the point I make is totally relevant to a media-driven society. The media is a simplified and dramatised mirror of ourselves. It takes cultural stereotypes, picks out the most entertaining and marketable elements of them, and then projects them back at us in a way it is damn near impossible to escape. 
My Hero!!!
What you're left with is the same handful of characters and storylines repeated over and over and over until it's all you can do not to believe them so fully that you judge everybody you meet by what you've seen on TV /in magazines/ through pop music/ etc. Is he the smooth talking womaniser, or the cheeky blokey bloke, or is he the perfect sensitive yet strong hero? Is she the sexy yet innocent victim, the mother figure or the thick skinned, straight talking heroine?
"And if you look just over there, you'll see your dignity disappearing over the horizon"
My point about sex in the media is that every single character you come accross has a sexual stereotype written into them- expected of them. The womaniser will seduce you, bed you and leave you wanting more. The cheeky bloke will see you as a sex object, call you fit and make a bet with his mates that he can get into your knickers by the end of the night. The hero is the only one who will take you seriously- but you usually only find him in stories written specifically for women! And when he does appear in a story written for men, he's always been done wrong by the one woman he ever loved, and is therefore damaged and unavailable. 
Oi oi! Lets av it!
And as for women in the media, the victim will always have men falling at her feet, the mother will never get a shag because she's only there to look after everyone, and the straight talking heroine is so busy taking care of business, she has no interest in, or time for sex.
And so as part of a media society, we start to believe that this is all humanity has to offer when it comes to sex. I had certainly, as I emerged from my teenage years, begun to believe that every man was either a cheeky bloke or a womaniser, and the media DID NOTHING TO HELP. It amplified my concerns. It helped to destroy my sexual confidence and my confidence in society!
As for a money-driven society. Well, do I even need to comment on this? Just turn the TV on and note how many messages are drilled into your skull about things you really-can't-live-without-because-everyone-else-has-got-one-and-they're-so-god-damn-happy! Take a look at the pile of bills that came through the door in the last couple of months... how much tax you had to pay, not just on what you earned but on what you bought with the money you earned and already paid tax on... Just imagine how difficult it would be to decide you weren't going to have money in your life any more- how you would go about opting out of our money-obsessed world. The trouble with the media is that there is NO portrayal of a western world not driven by money, unless you specifically go out looking for it.
I'm actually a little surprised to look back and realise that my opinions of the media-driven society, though quite uneducated and a little rough round the edges, began to emerge when I was still a child, and they haven't changed much since. My life now is about finding peace in a balanced place where I can live my life happily, aware of the media-driven world but watching it from a distance, joining in when I want/need to but letting myself be affected by it as little as possible.
So as a reaction to this passage: no- it is not true that the world runs on sex and money. The media runs on sex and money. And when you find the exit door and join the world on the outside I believe that's when you really start living.

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