Perhaps I’ve become jaded in my old age. But in the age of social media, where clicks and eyeballs are obsessed over by businesses and lay people alike, it is getting harder and harder to decipher between authentic mishaps and choreographed calamities. Since the human psyche is drawn to accidents and disasters, we are quick to tune in when we see a meltdown taking place. Even as we try to avert our eyes, we are entranced by the sheer magnitude of someone else’s downfall. This is why there are endless videos on YouTube that have gone viral with one fail after another. Of course, people have figured this out, thus a procession of nitwits are willing to make fools of themselves on social media in order to get the attention of the world.
I bring this topic up in light of the “mishap” last night at the Academy Award by Faye Dunaway. When announcing the “best picture” nominees, Dunaway mistakenly announced that “La La Land” as the winner when in reality the Oscar was supposed to go to “Moonlight”. It was a mildly embarrassing moment, who among us has not made a mistake after all. To be sure, it probably did not feel too well for the cast and production crew of “La La Land”; to be full of glee and tears thinking they won, only for the reality to sink in that their name was called by mistake was probably not the best of feelings. But overall, it did not warrant breaking news status nor was the moment so significant that it calls for front page coverage.
Alas, the moment the correction was made by Horowitz, social media blew up as people took part in the schadenfreude of seeing someone else flounder live on TV. I had no intention of watching the Academy Award myself, but seeing post after post on Facebook talking about this “disaster” and having our smut peddling mainstream media trumpet this “epic fail” as though Russia was invading Vermont made it impossible for me to ignore the issue. Sure enough, I found myself clicking on one of the CNN links in my live feed to see what was going on in Hollywood. I felt a tinge of embarrassment falling for this antic, my heart wanted to resist biting at the catnip that our “free press” was offering, but damn if curiosity did not get the better of me!
Sure enough, what is leading the news today on the Washington Post and the endless corporate owned media outlets is the “snafu” that took place last night at the Academy Award. The mainstream media know what they are doing, they are pushing sensationalism because they know that people will click on the salacious and outrageous a thousand times more than reading up on policies and legislation that actually have direct bearing on our lives. There is a maxim in journalism: when a dog bites a man, it’s not news, when a man bites a dog that’s news. We are drawn by the abnormal and fantastical more than we are drawn by in depth reporting and hard hitting journalism. News has become a form of escapism from our day to day realities, it seems we would rather gaze into the navel of the outlandish instead of actually reading up on news that hits close to home.
Why do you think I decided to write this article? I too could be writing about the fact that Trump just announced a 10% increase in our military budget. Parenthetically, this is the real outrage considering we spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined yet refuse to take care of the veterans who come back home broken by the immoral wars our military-financial complex keeps declaring in the name of profits and resource thievery. But who has time to think about these things? It’s so much more fun to share a link about some outrageous spectacle than it is to do something about an outrageous miscarriage of justice that goes on daily. So I grudgingly adapt, covering this inane story even though there is an antidote pill I hopefully passed along in this article that conveys a wider message beyond just taking part in idle talk. Although let me not be too pious; I’m not disconnected from this foolishness because I sure did enjoy the empty calories of the video highlights from last night while doing a bit of “research” for this article.
A thought crossed my mind though, as I am sure the same crossed the thought of many who have grown skeptical of the endless ways people whore themselves on social media in order to seek attention and draw clicks, retweets and likes. What if the whole fiasco last night with Dunaway was actually staged? Think this is not possible? Go to YouTube right now and type in “epic fail” and see how many of the top 20 videos that come up seem like they are fake. We live in an age of utter fraudulence where every two seconds someone is using Photoshop and CGI to present theatrics as the real McCoy. It doesn’t even take that much technical acumen to doctor some photo or some video and get endless shares. We have become a society of alternative facts, we are being consumed and subsumed by fake news to the point where we can’t even decipher deception from reality.
In the age of memes and banality, the incentive is not to be real but to be as fake as Monsanto tomatoes in order to draw viewers and capture a larger audience. You think Hollywood does not know this? Of course they do, this is why it is getting harder and harder to find good movies these days; the impetus is to make movies that are pleasing to the eye more than they are edifying the soul. Just as Twitter is limiting our thoughts with 140 character restrictions, the same is true of the broader social media as sensationalism is limiting the virtues of decency and authenticity. So maybe we should start placing a bit more of the blame and the onus on our shoulders; after all, if the consumers demanded to be treated like adults we would not get media that publishes infantile gibberish as leading news.
Until then though, we will keep being treated to more and more Dunaway theatrics. While I don’t know for a fact that the event last night was manufactured, it would not surprise me in the least because the Academy Awards has gone viral as a result of last night’s debacle. We live in a time where fame and infamy go hand in hand; people don’t care how they become famous as long as they get their fifteen minutes of fame. And those who already have fame will do anything to extend their fifteen minutes; thus grown people are willing to make fools out of themselves just so they can get more followers and trend on social media. And this is why we have a carnival barker as President—we keep digesting empty calories of outrage, we get an outrageous buffoon living in the White House. Going viral has repercussions; a society that falls for viral marketing ends up with a virus that eats away at its virtues. #ViralSnafu
If you want to go viral; be hateful. If you want to make a difference, be love::
Speaking of Theatrics, watch video below for the biggest counterfeit show in the universe
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.