Perception of Truth: Carcetti’s Speech

The Wire is arguably the greatest television show of all time. I haven’t seen enough classic television shows to give a definitive answer on that. The Wire never talked down to its audience and expected them to pay attention. Its messages were subtle. So subtle that at times the show’s messages could sail over the heads of its small, but dedicated audience.

How the audience perceives the message of scene is an important thing for a writer or director to consider when constructing a scene. The scene below is meant to show that Tommy Carcetti is no better than any other politician. He gives a long speech on how the city needs to be harder on the drugs-trafficking taking over the city. Carcetti’s words are passionate but lacking in substance. He offers no real solutions to the struggle of the people in Baltimore.

On the commentary for this episode, David Simon says that the performance of Aidan Gillen and the push-in of the camera imply truth to the audience. Aidan is so genuine in the fire behind his words that people don’t play attention to what he’s saying. Simon states that the push-in was done to show that this is Carcetti’s moment. This is where he becomes mayoral in the eyes of the people. He inspires people with the same words that have failed them in the past.

Simon commented that this showed that politics was more about the visuals rather than the words being spoken. Success in politics is about coming across as fitting for the position through your poise and articulation in debates. The content of your speech is secondary.

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The Way

Even if we knew the solutions to our impossible problems, (racism, sexism, crime, poverty, hunger, illness, violence) we would not be able to solve them. Our system is not built for such radical change.

Picture this. A man sleeps in his bed. He is visited by an omnipotent cosmic creature that wants to help mankind. The creature whispers in his ear the way for man to live together in peace and harmony. Where suffering is minimized and everyone can eat as much cake as they want without gaining weight. The man wakes up.

What can he do with that divine inspiration? How best could he reach the world to show us the way?

The man could try out politics, the game of compromise. But to enter politics, he’d need money and a good reputation. He’d need to appear to be what the people wanted so they would vote for him. If he had a stammer, showed weakness or was born the wrong race, he could fail right out of the gate. He’d have to shake hands and kiss butts for a long time before he could start enacting any change.

He’d have to be able to withstand the media and the mud-slinging from other politicians. His solutions would be radical therefore controversial and dangerous. He’d have to keep them bottled up or he’d end up scaring off voters. Even if he were completely right, he’d end up losing. Being right doesn’t guarantee you votes. He’d have to learn to smile for the camera. He’d have to join one of the two major parties if he wanted to really get anywhere.

Even if he made it to the top and became President, he’d have only eight years at most to stir America the right way. And that would be only America. The rest of the world would be lost to him. If people didn’t see results instantly, he’d be out in four years for someone else pretending to know what he knew. He’d face difficulty from the corrupt for his entire life if radical change did come. He might end up assassinated. Then the way would be lost.

He could try his hand at religion. He could create a church that worshiped the divine creature that visited him. . Persuasion would be a necessary tool to get started. A community would have to be born that believed in him and his way. But without the inertia of tradition, why would anyone listen to him? What separated him from the mentally ill and insane?

If he were charismatic, he might be able to start a cult. H might be lucky enough to build a grand church out of that. But the way would end up lost when he passed away. His disciples would interpret his teachings as best they could. But they would be human and therefore selfish. The way would be stained by their desires. Changing whenever it benefited them.

Academia is another path. He could write down all he knew. He might end up in peer-reviewed journals. His message would reach an elite group of intelligent people but be lost to the public. He’d receive awards for his brilliant writings. He could become so noteworthy that people would teach classes about him and his philosophy. A few students might end up inspired to do their best to carry on his way. Others might see his way as a reason to hurt others.

The man would best be suited to going right back to sleep and pretending he never heard a thing.

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Some Housekeeping

Back in early 2011, I started this blog for a journalism class. It was then called “Cynically Marvelous”. I wrote non-offensive articles about whatever for my grade. When the class ended, my professor encouraged us to continue our blogs. I didn’t want to stop writing.

So I wrote an article on how much I loathed the tipping culture in this country. It was so relieving to let out that little frustration in a constructive way. I had prepared this little thought and then sent it out into the depths of the internet. Now it would persist until the end of human civilization. That was when I knew I had to write more. I had to create.

This blog became the place for me to air out my frustrations with modern society. I bashed everything I had the slightest gripe with; drinking culture, student loans, my friends, even myself. I’d even bash stuff that I actually liked. I once wrote a blog post about why holidays needed to be abolished. I loved spreading negativity. When you’re negative about everything, you’re also very often right. And being right is the best feeling in the world.

But I’m not that guy anymore.

Apologies are in order. I have neglected this blog. I could excuse myself by saying a lot of my writing energies have been put elsewhere. I’m currently working on my first feature-length script and doing extensive research for what I hope to be my first novel (it’s giving me a huge headache). Both of these projects drain the hell out of me.

But the real reason behind the lack of content is that writing less negative articles is a tremendously harder task than I originally imagined. I find that positive writing bores me. I don’t have much to say if I’m not complaining. I’ve been trying to rekindle my interest in blogging without a cloud of negativity infecting my thoughts. Gender issues came close but still not enough to get me back to my old blogging ways.

Having this blog has been a very rewarding experience and I don’t want it to stop just because I’m happier with my life now. So I’ve created a new direction for this blog that I think will reawaken the inner blogger in me.

I want to write about the taboo. I want to explore the limits of our tolerance. I want to understand why we have those limits. I want to talk about what’s next for humanity in our growing battle for equality. We’re learning to accept people regardless of race, gender and sexuality. But what is next? What will we learn to accept next? Who is getting a raw deal today? What group will step up and say “Hey! We’re people too!”?

For this new direction, I want followers who don’t shy away from hard topics. Because when I say taboo, I mean taboo. Think about the thing that makes you the most uncomfortable. I want to talk about that and why you’re so uncomfortable talking about it. Nothing will be off-limits. Nothing!

I hope to entertain and challenge anyone who stumbles upon my little spot here on the internet.

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Echo Chamber

Today we can choose how we receive our information.

We can choose who we follow on twitter. We can choose what news stations we watch. And we get to choose where and when we consume that information; on the go with smart phones or tablets, at home front of the TV, through conversations we have. We get to choose and we always choose what we like. We have power.

We watch the news we like. We visit the sites we like. Follow the people we like. It’s a good system except for one huge problem.

Only seeing what you like is not a good thing. It leads to the death of critical thinking. You lose perspective when you are surrounded by like-minded people telling you what you want to hear. When all you hear is “you’re right about the world.” you don’t grow. You’re trapped in an echo chamber.

I know people who watch only one news station. These are the only people that they trust they deliver their news. All the others are liars. And this news station leans the same way as them on all the major issues. Liberals watch MSNBC. Conservatives watch Fox News. Everything is blue and red. Liberal or Conservative. Republican or Democrat. People are with them, or against them.

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If somehow a different opinion sneaks its way into our lives, we have the power to snuff it out.

Ignore. Block. Ban. Downvote and mark for removal.

Scroll down on any news story to the comments section. Against the grain opinions are hidden and marked for deletion by the community. Most of these opinions aren’t even offensive. They’re different and unconventional. But because they do not fit in with the hive-mind of the reader-base for those sites, they are removed.

What happened to discussion? What happened to trying to learn more about how other people see the world? What has happened to critical thinking?

It’s as if people figure out their view on a topic, then search for ways to reinforce it. Never challenging their first reaction to a news story. They search for facts that support the narrative that they already have in their head. Things that don’t support that narrative are ignored or said to be fabricated by the enemy.

Critics, skeptics, and cynics are pushed out of the community. Said to be insane or brainwashed by the enemy’s media. Then they are labeled with the name of the enemy. Bleeding Heart. Homophobe. Heretic. Racist. Sinner. Misogynist. Tree Hugger.

Would it be so bad if we didn’t only read what we liked? If we didn’t only listen to the news stations that we liked? Maybe turn on the TV, not watch the same news correspondents? Switch it up? No news station is completely objective, in fact I’d say most aren’t even close. It’s television. They have ratings to consider.

Maybe we should starting following people we despise. Read articles that are offensive to us and our beliefs. Try not to see issues in blue and red. It’d be great if people could try, make that effort.

So that our first reaction to a contrary opinion isn’t “This person is completely wrong and I am right!” and instead becomes “Why does this person believe this? Why do they see the world differently than I do?”

Asking questions rather than remaining in ignorance.

What is a person entitled to?

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

What rights should a person have? What does a government have to provide for its citizens?

Here in America, we have a Constitution. It’s changed radically since it was first put into effect back in 1789. As times changed, our rights also changed. Women needed to be able to vote. Slavery was determined to be not so great after all. Alcohol was prohibited, then brought back. The constitution hasn’t been amended in twenty two years. So today what are we owed?

If it was up to you to come up with a new amendment, what would you fight to make its way in?

George Carlin had a great bit about rights. I don’t know if I agree with everything that he said, but he brought up a good point about food and shelter not being rights under our constitution.

We all know that shelter, food, water are life necessities. Should a right to food, shelter, and water be added in? Can we feed and house every American? I’d say yes, but we wouldn’t be able to do it for free. Or are food, water, and shelter to be earned, not given out?

Should love be a right?

We can all agree that loving and to be loved is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It makes us human. What is a life with no parents to learn from, no friends to play around, and no partner(s) to love? But is a person entitled to love? Seems wrong to say that. A government can’t guarantee love for everyone. How would we go about doing that? Arranged marriages? Too messy.

Should free healthcare be a right? Should the ability to marry anyone you want be a right? Should a college education be a right? Should job employment be a right? Should living out of poverty be a right? Should contraception be a right?

If it were up to me, I’d want access to the internet to be a right.

You can get in an argument with a person halfway across the world. There’s so much knowledge on here. All of mankind’s modern works are available at the click of a button. I believe the internet has really leveled the playing field for people. You can throw out a creative work and build a niche audience. It’s easier to find people to get a long with or see into worlds you wouldn’t normally have a chance to.

But then that’s just me.

Analyzing the News

Today the Supreme Court decided that Arizona’s Immigration Law went too far and struck down three of the four provisions. I don’t have an opinion on this issue because I don’t live in Arizona and don’t know enough about what’s going on down there. I’m actually interested in how the many major different news companies covered it. News people are often accused of being biased. I want to see if this is true. So today we’ll be taking a look at some news websites. Earlier today, I took some snapshots of some websites to analyze.

1. CNN“Blow To Immigration Law”

This is the eye catcher. Does this language take a side? As far I can see, it’s a neutral stance. The rest of their front page information on this story doesn’t lead the audience either way. I’m not going to go into the actual article because that’s not the point. I want to see the differences in the front page make up of these news sites.

The other big element here is the picture. Pictures can be used to convey things that words may not be able to capture. All I see here is a group of people protesting. they aren’t made to look sympathetic or unsympathetic. They are just people in front of a building.

A person who didn’t know anything about this issue shouldn’t be swayed either way by this front page. So good work CNN.

2. Fox News

Fox News is often accused of being conservative. That’s all I ever hear about them. My parents treated it as a joke. The language used here is different than CNN. CNN stated that Supreme Court ruled in favor of the US whereas Fox News states that the Supreme Court struck down three provisions.  Fox News also does not lead the audience in either way on this issue. It has a nice picture of the Supreme Court. Nothing biased or leading about that at all However there is an interesting difference in the way CNN and Fox News refer to the healthcare ruling in their lower link.

Fox News calls the healthcare plan, Obamacare. CNN does not. Does this matter? Is It biased? I don’t know. It doesn’t really lead the audience to like or dislike the health care more or less.  From what I can see, Fox News is just as objective on the front page as CNN.

3. Huffington Post

This is how the Huffington Post posted the story on their website. Gutted is a visceral word. They don’t mention the Supreme Court. There’s just a huge picture of a statue that rests outside the Supreme Court’s building. I love this. It’s like the verdict was handed down by a divine power. The great statute of the Supreme Court has spoken. GUTTED! There was a link on the bottom of this that I left out that. It was a link to the story. To the right of it was the number of comments which was over 7,000. Is this unbiased? Yeah. I don’t have a problem with

So 3 for 3 on these top stories. One day I’ll look at actual articles and break down whether they are leading the audience or not. Not now because that feels too much like homework.