Todd Gitlin: Eight Strategies We Use to Navigate the Ceaseless Flood of Media
The Fan develops a visceral, emotional attachment to certain genres or celebrities. This attachment requires a choice (I'll pay attention to New Wave and ignore folk music), and it leads to membership in a community of connoisseurs, or believers.
Where the fan works by affirmation, the Content Critic works by aversion. He is on the lookout for all of the crappy songs and biased news, all the ways in which the media fail politically and aesthetically. If the content of the media could somehow be improved, the world would too.
The Paranoid believes that They are programming Us. Television (the usual culprit) is an addiction, a hypnotic agent. If we are at a loss, drifting or suffering, it must be because They--the Government, the Liberal Media, the Media Monopoly, the Zionist Occupation Government--are pushing the buttons. Though it is extreme, paranoia is a warped version of legitimate fear.
The Exhibitionist glories in media exposure--the cast of MTV's The Real World, the painted spectators holding NBC signs at sports events, those who broadcast their intimate lives via 24/7 webcam. Commanding the attention of spectators, the exhibitionist achieves some exemption from the anonymity of the torrent, some power apparently without risk. But because this power is risk-free, it is trivial.
The Ironist knows that media are nothing but weightless contrivances, so she surfs with ease and without committment, amused and aamused to be amused. She can enjoy the spectacle on two levels--as a faux-naive fan (who always liked the smile of that faded star) and as a knowing insider (who knows that the faded star started touring again because she was broke). The media have adopted, or co-opted, the ironist's style, with the glorification of kitsch and ads that wink knowingly while they continue to pitch.
The Culture Jammer, like the critic, believes that images are power. The difference is that he will directly attack those images, defacing or refacing them. In order to redistribute power he's an active transmitter rather than a passive receiver. Whether he's hacking into a corporate site or unfurling anti-consumer banners in the Mall of America, offense has become the jammer's defense.
The Secessionist knows that media steal our time, and therefore our lives and human capacities. Because the media are beyond reform, she does not bother to displace, jam, supplement, or critique them. She rations television, planning one day to get rid of it, and abstains from cell phones and e-mail whenever possible. She knows how the media can seduce if you let your guard down.
Because the media are politically pacifying, life-throttling, mind-sapping, even physically damaging, the Abolitionist refuses to accept their existence as a good argument for their continued existence. Only one valid question about the media torrent remains: How do you launch the revolution to dry it up?
(Source for this is Adbusters July/August 2002)