Posts Tagged ‘ media ’

Politics of PR; PR for Politics?

Since I’m working/looking for a new job/trying to graduate/doing my best to be a decent human being, I don’t often get the opportunity to discuss politics with academics whom I respect, so today’s chat with a former professor was a welcome deviation from the norm. Though much of the conversation revolved around our respective life activities (and thus wouldn’t be interesting to Dear Reader), there was one thing mentioned which I think is a good question for American society at-large.

In recounting the various ways in which the financial meltdown and subsequent government actions were framed in the “relevant” discourses (i.e., the media and the 2008/2010 political campaigns), I opined that those who support(ed) drastic measures to ensure (admittedly relative) stability have utterly lost the public relations battle to the reactionaries who oppose(d) such actions. To this my professor friend agreed and added that, for better or worse, much of our politics and discourse in this country often breaks down to public relations and marketing. It is less about who can best lead us into tomorrow, and rather about who can best appeal to our fleeting consumer sensibilities.

Yes, my friend is an avowed Marxist philosopher in a society that venerates anything “market-based.” But I do not believe that undermines his critique. In fact, I rather think it supports such a conclusion – however broad it may be – because our reverence for the system too often induces us to be uncritical of the system.

But for the time being, the system looks like it’s here to stay. So, the question I now pose is this: how can we use the system to reform or recreate the system? Can the tools of marketing and public relations be appropriated for a higher purpose than merely electing candidates who reflect the “public” opinion or giving power and influence to those who pander to our fears and anxieties?

Dear Rev. Jones: Please stop being a moron

The title belies the seriousness of Gainesville, Florida Rev. Terry Jones’ plan to burn the Quran on September 11th.

INTERPOL, the FBI, the Vatican, President Obama, and General Petraeus (just to name a few) have all come out in total opposition to the Dove “World Outreach” Center’s proposed ceremony, and for a multitude of reasons (domestic hate-crimes, violence abroad, increased threats to American troops, etc …). Those who intend to participate should take heed. Though, since people with such extreme viewpoints typically aren’t concerned with life here on Earth because their treasure is in heaven, no amount of reasoning, cajoling, or even threatening, is likely to dissaude them. It is truly unfortunate …

Switching gears for a moment, an interesting point is raised by Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, regarding the role of the media in sensationalizing this stunt:

[Awad] said he thought the media has paid too much attention to Jones and his “insignificant act. … That’s what he wants,” Awad said. “… I’m really concerned about the priorities, sometimes, of our coverage.”

Regardless of whether or not the book burning itself is just an “insignificant act,” it has become of great symbolic consequence. I applaud all those who intend to protest this display of bigotry. Hopefully the media will be equally frenzied in portraying that side of the story.

And to those who still plan on publicly burning holy books, as well as their sympathizers, do the rest of the world a favor and jump in the fire, too. You’re only going to cause more suffering in an already manic world. Some of us still have to live here, and we want to do so peacably.