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infotainment « Previous | |Next »
September 16, 2006

Free-to-air television may be a licence to print money but it's a brutal business overladened with mythmaking. Its a culture industry, whose reason for existence is making money by selling selling captive audiences in mass markets to advertisers. Alas, there is a downturn in advertising revenue as corporate advertisers drift to the internet. That means cost cutting, dumbing down programs, and going tabloid.

Television.jpg
Geoff Pryor

The commercial free-to-air TV stations are in a mature market and they will decline during the next five to 10 years. As they face increasing competitive pressure from the proliferating new media, the networks continue to lobby to buy time and stave off the inevitable. The foundations on which the industry was built are crumbling with the shift to full-time digital streaming of any kind of programming on demand via the internet. What do they do?

Currently, they are making themselves subjects in their own soapie about themselves --- it's postmodern infotainment.

Media.jpg
Nicholson

This Day Tonight and A Current Affair have become a parody of

Frontline.

Update:19 September
The cannibal saga of tabloid TV buys into, anbd recycles savage primitiveness as the other of Australian modernity. As Sarah Hewat points out in The Age:
Primitiveness" is, after natural resources, a prize commodity in Papua and tour operators have perfected the art of selling "first contact tours" while never naming them as such. I have known locals who have been paid a measly sum to take off their clothes, brandish spears and speak of a barbaric past to satisfy the voyeurism of white tourists, journalists or filmmakers seeking a close encounter with our ancestral past. The cash-strappedlocals who stage such performances are, unfortunately, adjuncts to people who get paid much more to bring Westerners to them.

She also points out that the savage primitve Korowai that appeared on the original 60 Minutes report wore shorts, were holding black plastic bags were speaking Bahasa Indonesia, rather than, as was claimed, an ancient dialect. 60 Minutes was selling primitiveness.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:36 PM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

I wonder if the writer of the above lead-in wrote it before or after tonight's "Media
Watch" interlude. The insufferable, infantile and Machiavellian antics of Nine and Seven and their apologists and the despicable history behind the West Papua antic are indeed, "post modern".
They extend beyond nausea, to a soul-destroyed Dante-esque sadness, before the racist black propaganda paradigm that this example surely is, is even examined on those terms; merely as to the unplumbed depths of inhumanity exposed.

Paul,
I didn't watch the Media Watch story last night. I read the transcript this morning.

The 60 Minutes transcript of Ben Fordham's original story--Last Cannibals----is an eye opener. Liz Hayes opens it thus:

This really is an adventure into the unknown. We're going back to the Stone Age on the trail of a long lost tribe, the last of the cannibals. And the amazing thing is this isn't ancient history. The tribe really does exist and not all that far from us — our next-door neighbours, really....Our reporter Ben Fordham set out in search of the Korowai — these primitive warriors who have never seen a white man still believe in witchcraft and still eat human flesh.

And off the white boys go into the darkness of West Papua where the Korowai hang out. Nine produced a freak show about darkly menacing primitives horrifying us with their cruel savage customs.

It's a freak show because this is the same Korowai tribe who, as Sarah Hewat points out in The Age:

fly in planes, go to church, attend school, have meetings with government officials, or sell produce at the market ---or gaharu (agarwood) to black-market traders. Even in the peripheries of Korowai territory, where Wa-Wa lives, people no longer kill and eat witches. Times have changed, and in any case, they fear the barbaric repercussions of the Indonesian police.Korowai people have also had a lot to do with tourists since the late 1980s when their region became something of a pilgrimage site for adventure primitivists.

As Monica Attard observes on Media Watch about the subsequent Nine and Seven programes: the central characters are Seven and Nine and their stories is the length that they'll go to in their ratings war. Neither gives a hoot about Wawa--- the boy in danger.