November 27, 2013

A sketch of digital demonstrations through the lens of gift exchange.

[...] But first, we must theorize the concept of demonstrations and protests. How does a protest function, how does it 'work'? I will briefly outline a sketch of a theory of demonstration on the basis of gift exchange.

Protest and demonstration can be understood most easily through the concept of gift exchange in Bataille's anthropology, as appropriated by Baudrillard in Symbolic Exchange and Death1: Aristocracy – power –, it is argued therein, shows itself through expenditure, through waste, through excess. It must be noted that, while Symbolic Exchange and Death constructs most explicitly on the basis of Bataille, on the whole Nietzsche is a more sustained and permanent influence on the thought of Baudrillard; and indeed, traces of Nietzsche's thought can be found within this analysis of aristocracy – which Nietzsche sees as [...] (Albert Camus, a keen reader of Nietzsche, though much more of a moralist than either Baudrillard or Nietzsche, notes that the latter's concept of aristocracy is one of duty, not of privilege – i.e. one of giving, not of taking.)

Power, so says the hypothesis, shows itself through expenditure and waste. Expenditure and waste has to be seen as a sign – a sign that signifies identity. "I am the kind of person who can
afford to be wasteful." Wasting money for a useless gadget points to the fact that one has so much more money to spend.

Protests and demonstrations, then, are never principally a demonstration for or against something – they are a demonstration of – of power. The demonstrating masses communicate an identity: "We are the kind of people who are willing to 'waste' our time [and, if the opposing regime uses violence, willing to waste our lives] here on the streets." This signifier, suspended invisibly in the air, is supposed to say that We have so much more time [so many more lives] to spend – violently if necessary. The masses signify that they are willing to 'storm the palace' without actually storming the palace. Give in, or else... One can, indeed, read the nuclear bombs dropped upon Japan during the Second World War in much of the same way, as Dr. Gerry Coulter has, noting that the Allied represented themselves as the greater evil.2 We are the kind of people who are willing to lay waste to your cities, the Allied signified. Surrender, or else...

The total and utter failure of most contemporary protests can now be dissected; it comes down to two simple reasons.

One, many demonstrations explicitly disavow violence, as e.g. the Occupy movement does, thereby removing any trace of the threat. The signifier is devoid of meaning, a free-floating sign. It is still there – the people are occupying the street – but that which is supposed to be signified – the possibility of action, of violence, the self-identification of someone who is willing to be violent – is stricken. "We are the ones who are willing to waste our time." Okay, then what? I am not saying that the Occupy movement should have been violent – but it certainly should have signified a willingness to be. Instead, there was no threat at all. Give in, or we will vote for Obama again? Who will feel threatened by that?

Two, an obvious point: Demonstrations within the digital simply are not wasteful enough. The price to pay for a digital protest is about two seconds of your time. Within the digital, then, the whole logic of the gift is rendered impossible. Buying you a DVD set for your birthday feels meaningful because it is implied that I spent money on it, that I wasted for you. Copying the data onto your computer results in no loss for me and hence doesn't feel as purposeful. (And therefore the mixtape, the personalized curation of art so as to say: I did not spend money on this music, but I did spend time handcrafting this selection.) But within the digital process, no time is consumed, and so the "efficiency" of a digitally-networked protest is paradoxically the cause of the protest's ineffectiveness.

1 See

2 "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you," then, does not mean that one should avoid battling monsters at all costs, but that one should first be willing to become the bigger monster.

April 24, 2013

Short thought of the day: on themes

This misconception continues to puzzle me: that when talking about movies, or literature, or video games – Art, in short – a work is often said to deal with a certain theme or topic. But there is a difference between merely evoking or referencing a theme and actually dealing with, that is, having to say something about it. My issue, to be perfectly clear, is not with the word theme, but with potential verbs preceding it: For a work of Art to have, to possess a theme, it is enough to show, to reference. For a work of Art to deal with or to explore a theme, it needs to do more than that. 

 Of course, whether a work of Art needs to deal with or even evoke a certain theme in the first place, this is too rarely questioned. The joy of aesthetics, it seems, has been lost in our desperate, futile search for meaning. 

April 16, 2013

A re-evaluation of the term mass culture

NOTE: Due to a real or perceived lack of time, I currently rarely manage to edit what I write, so most of the content which may or may not pop up within the next few weeks/months/life-times will basically be straight-draft, quick-shot format.


Within the definitional conflict of what exactly constitutes the term popular culture, the issue of mass culture often comes up, sometimes the two of them being used interchangeably. The term popular culture often carries the connotation of an inferior work. The problem lies in the conflation of two distinct ideas within the term mass culture; it stems from the industrial age and means two things: One, something made by masses – a production no longer by an individual, handcrafted by a single expert. And two, something made for masses – a product that is to be produced a thousand times a day, and every single product has to look identical. Therefore the connotation of inferior work.*

In the realm of tangible objects, these two meanings form a symbiosis; they basically entail one another, they are one and the same concept. But in the realm of the digital, the second meaning is... meaningless, i.e. it does not exist anymore: the very proposition does not make sense anymore, because in the digital, identicalness is always a given. Mass produced clothing is of inferior quality to a hand-tailored suit because the mass production process has to be accomodated towards producing identical pieces. In the digital, this is no longer the case – which means that the only part of the concept mass culture that continues to make sense when describing the production of Art within the digital is the first: it is produced by masses. Take a look at the credits of, say, 2001. Mass culture has become an endeavour of hundreds, thousands, and one that builds upon every piece of technology and culture the human race as a whole has produced in its time has created. The most impressive singular artist may have been Da Vinci or Michelangelo, I do not know, but I do know that no singular artist can produce as impressive an artwork as the efforts of 200+ people. Or, to stay even closer to the example of 2001, perhaps Richard Strauss has more ingenuity than Stanley Kubrick on his own, but it is in the realm of digital mass produced art, the music of Richard Strauss can simply be reappropriated, can be absorbed into 2001.

For Star Wars: Episode III, for example, seventy-thousand man-hours were allocated to produce 49 seconds of special effects. To say that the film is still terrible would be to miss the point – it is precisely more terrible than any work by a single person could ever be. That is to say, a movie produced by such an incredible amount of man-hours has always more potential than one that is not. And potential is, by definition of the word, bidirectional.

* The one aspect left out of this text is of course the matter of the taste of the masses - "mass produced" also usually carries the connotation of something that is produced with the lowest common denominator in mind, which might result in either extremely simple - or worse, incoherent and internally inconsistent (subscription required, will be re-uploaded to this blog in a few months) works. However, this is outside the scope of this text.

March 22, 2013

The Fallhöhe of art

An addendum to Creation in art means selection  (subscription required)

The difference between the numerous artforms can perhaps also be explained by the amount of work that is left to the recipient. With books, so much more is left to the imagination (which romantics and nostalgics always see as a positive thing); the reader has to translate the words into worlds – a translation process involving multiple steps, in fact. And an aspect whose importance one might neglect: the eyes have to move across the paper. With movies, there is not much left to translate, and the eyes are fixated. Again, the romantically inclined see this as intrinsically negative, but it has to be said: If I trust an artist to create a world better than I do (as it is his job, and perhaps not mine), than I would like to leave as much of the creation to him, NOT to myself. From this point of view then, the more control the artist has over what my synapses receive, the more potential there is.

It is, though, in the nature of things that potential runs in both directions. In drama, the fall of a king is more dramatic than that of a simple farmer – for the fall of a king might implicate the fall of an empire. This is the concept known as Fallhöhe: the bidirectionality of power potentials. And this bidirectionality is apparent in a comparison of the different mediums of art as well: No bad short story will evoke the amount of vitriol of a bad novel, and no great short story could aspire to the greatest novels; and no book could bore my senses as much as a terrible movie: the movie leaves my senses and mind with nothing but the movie itself. We usually find the nerve to finish a boring short story; but make me watch an appallingly bad movie and I will walk out within half an hour.

The greatest heights are surrounded by the deepest rifts, and the greatest works of art would, if made by lesser hands, inevitably have been the worst.

February 14, 2013

the future of television

I've had some thoughts in regards to the way House of Cards was released by Netflix. Multiple reviewers noted how the approach changed their behaviour as viewers (e.g. this piece on AV club). They make some important points, but I believe there is something more important to realize here, and that is how the Netflix approach might potentially change the production of television. Up until now, the underlying structure of TV drama was principally limited by this:

If you watch an episode of The Sopranos, you know that it will be roughly 53 minutes long. By necessity. But this is a conceptional limitation of television. It means that the plot has to move in a certain way. Some things cannot happen at the 30 minute mark because the viewer knows that there are 23 more minutes to fill. As a result, the pacing has to be accommodated. And what if I just need 30 minutes for one episode, but 83 minutes for another one? Well, now it is possible.

Furthermore, the viewer knows that there will be more episodes. There are press releases for that. The viewer will know three months in advance which episode will be the finale. We never seem to think about this, but this is actually pretty serious. Try writing the protagonist into a hazardous situation in the sixth episode when the viewer knows the season has 13 episodes. Yeah, he ain't gonna die, I don't think. This kills potential for suspension.

The Netflix approach might change this. It might allow the producers to obscure the length of individual episodes and of seasons in order to create more suspense, to actually make the viewer care for every scene because every scene might be the last. (*)

Consider the analogy of literature. Movies are akin to short-stories. They usually focus on a smaller group of characters and follow a single plotline – maybe two or three. A popular, if very vague definition of short-stories is that they can be read in a single sitting, just like movies. Television shows, then, are novels. A larger breadth of characters, potentially many concurrent plotlines, and good luck consuming it in one evening. Novels, in fact, carry the same problem: you kinda know when you're at the end, because there are fewer and fewer pages in your right hand and more and more in your left. eReaders would probably do us a service if they obscured page numbers. And Television would do us a service if we didn't know what is hiding behind the corner.

(*)Of course, this probably will also result in episodes featuring cheap fake-outs every single episode. Then again, these shows already exist, they are called Procedurals.

December 17, 2012

Photographie als Kunst

Die Photographie ist heute im Großteil der Bevölkerung mit einem großen, unsagbar traurigem Irrtum verbunden. Hier wird die Photographie, um es kurz zu fassen, langweilig gemacht. Durch die maßlose Verbreitung des Photoapparates ist das Photographieren für jeden möglich geworden. Das wäre nun prinzipiell kein Problem – Bei gleichbleibender durchschnittlicher Qualität (wenn wir also davon ausgehen, dass den Menschen, die sich früher keinen Photoapparat leisten konnten, genau so viel Talent beschieden ist) würden wir, absolut betrachtet, mehr wertvolle Photographie ansammeln.

Doch im Zuge dieser Demokratisierung ist es stattdessen zu einer Regression gekommen. Ich benutze das Wort Regression deshalb, weil das derzeitige Photographieverständnis tatsächlich dem ähnelt, das mit der Entstehungszeit der Photographie einherging: dem des Photoapparates als eines Objektabbilders. Zu Beginn, wir können uns es leicht vorstellen, war die Begeisterung an der Technologie als solche unermesslich; Die neue Möglichkeit der Realitätsabbildung beeindruckte die Menschen. Und analog wird dazu das Photographieren auch zur Zeit hauptsächlich als eine Möglichkeit gesehen, auf etwas anderes zu zeigen: Urlaube, Freunde, besuchte Orte, Besitz. Das einzige Interesse liegt hier auf dem Objekt; Belichtungszeit, Schärfe und Komposition werden überhaupt nicht oder nur rein funktional betrachtet. Natürlich gibt Situationen, in denen dies angebracht ist. Das Photo, dass ich von meinem Apartment mache, um einen Nachmieter zu finden, sollte funktional sein. Doch diese Funktionalität hat derart Überhand genommen, dass viele sich heute gar keine andere Photographie mehr vorstellen können. Dabei verliert eben dadurch die Photographie ihren künstlerischen Wert.

„Wenn Kunst die Produktion einer Illusion ist“, könnte man darauf antworten, „dann ist eine solche Funktionalität doch durchaus wünschenswert, möchte sie doch lediglich ein möglichst nüchternes Bild produzieren.“ Aber Kunst ist eben nicht Realität, und das kann sie auch nie sein. Und diesen Mangel versucht die Kunst stets auszugleichen, indem sie an anderer Stelle größer wird als die Realität selbst. Jede Kunst, das wurde bereits gesagt, kompensiert zu aller erst durch Auswahl. Die „Objektphotographie“ ist aber eben eine häufig schlechte, da mundane Auswahl: Alltagsgegenstände, Alltagsmenschen, Alltagsurlaube (Als ob wir derartige Bilder nicht schon dutzende Male gesehen hätten). Und auch die häufig mundane Komposition in dieser Objektphotographie ist natürlich ein Mangel der Auswahl.

Zudem findet dieser Ausgleich der Kunst auf dem ästhetischen Feld statt. Die Literatur kompensiert nicht nur durch inhaltliche Kondensierung (Auswahl der Handlung), sondern auch durch sprachliche Deviation, durch Abgrenzung von der Alltagssprache (Selbst die absichtlich alltäglichen Romane der Moderne und post-Moderne). Der Film? Man schaue nur, als lediglich ein Beispiel – um die Vielzahl stilistischer Methoden im Filmbereich nicht alle aufzuzählen –, das Genre des Film Noirs an: Hier wird die Belichtung und Kontrasterstellung mit einer derartigen Detailliebe vorgenommen, die gar nicht mehr dazu dienen könnte, das Bild „realistisch“ zu gestalten, sondern es wird geradezu eine Superrealität, eine mehr-als-Realität versucht. Das Kunstwerk gesteht seine illusionäre Natur ein und kompensiert gleichzeitig für sie.

Und eben dies geht nun vielerorts in der Photographie verloren. Die Objektphotographen möchten nur abbilden; doch dieser Versuch wird der Realität nie das Wasser reichen können. Die Photographie eines Museumsexponats wird nie so real sein wie das Exponat selber, und daher sollte das Exponat schlicht mit den eigenen Augen konsumiert (denn um nichts anderes als Konsum handelt es sich ja) werden. Interessanter wäre vielleicht das Photographieren der Museumsbesucher, liegt hier doch etwas, was sich tatsächlich dafür eignet, vom Photoapparat „eingefangen“ zu werden. Das wäre die Ebene der Auswahl. Und auf der ästhetischen Ebene? Nun, es sei nur als Anregung genannt, dass das menschliche Auge im Gegensatz zum Photoapparat nur beschwerlich einzelne Bilder mit einer Belichtungszeit von einer zwei-tausendstel Sekunde (oder andersherum mit einer Belichtungszeit von 30 Sekunden) produzieren kann. Der Photoapparat kann also beispielsweise, mit anderen Worten, Bilder produzieren, die unter (oder andersherum über) über unserer eigenen Perzeptionsreichweite liegen. Es kann eine, für das menschliche Auge unzugängliche, mehr-als-Realität produzieren, den Moment zwischen den Momenten einfangen. 

September 07, 2012

objective journalism isn't objective and it isn't journalism


Thanks, media, how helpful! This is really stupid.
You think this graphic is designed to help someone decide who to vote for? It's designed to affirm the decision that was already made. The great (=terrible) thing about "objective" reporting is that it doesn't have to be partisan, it reaches everyone just the same. You can read this graph any way you want.
You like Obama? He's intelligent (universities) and forward-thinking (software companies). You don't like him? Universities are a code word, a flashing warnlight: dirty liberal, thinks he's better than you.
You like Romney? He's good with finance, "fiscally responsible", an image that has (without much basis) always been attributed to conservatives. You don't like him? He's corrupt and in cohorts with the dirty fatcats of Goldman Sachs et al.

Again, this isn't informative, this isn't helpful. It is image building. The recipient already knows where his allegiance lies, he just wants justification. This isn't relevant reporting, this is pandering to the longing for the Rauschen. It's emotional porn; reporting of this kind is designed to enable a personal political routine. Candidate 1 is stupid, candidate 2 is great. We get angry, we get happy, and by looking at this graph and reading the accompanying article by whatever newspapers it is we read, we now feel sufficiently informed about politics. The reason these things are news is that the recipients want something - anything - to be news, something that warrants attention. This is precisely what Marshall McLuhans "the medium is the message" meant , though he himself was needlessly obtuse about it. "Tuning in" is the important part; "staying informed" about anything, the process of reading the newspaper (or reddit, or [...]) is what matters. "Obama" and "Romney" are simply placeholders. The specific messages being read every day are not relevant. Quoth Baudrillard via Alexander Kierkegaard:

The answer comes from Baudrillard's early sociological analyses: The System of Objects (1968), The Consumer Society (1970), et al. What Baudrillard basically said is that in advanced capitalist societies what people increasingly come to exchange is not so much goods, as previously, but signs. Objects such as clothes, cars, homes, furniture, gadgets, and even wives and children (or even more abstract "objects" such as hobbies, holidays, life-styles, etc.) come to be prized not so much for what they are but for what they signify; not so much for what they mean to the individual, but for what they appear to be in the eyes of others; in more formal language, that the importance of an object's use-value comes to be increasingly upstaged by that of its sign-value. [...] No object is spared this passage into the dimension of sign-value, with for example university degrees being pursued not because one is interested in the subject, but because of the prestige that such a degree confers on him who has earned it, etc. Even the tiniest object can acquire this aura (in fact even non-objects such as ideas, but that's a subject for another essay): take for example glasses. Because it has been observed that intellectuals tend to wear prescription glasses (all the reading they do generally tends to lead to short-sightedness), we now have entire groups of people who, despite having perfect vision, will buy and wear prescription frames with blank lenses in order to appear to others as intellectuals. The use-value of the glasses, which is to enable people with bad eyesight to see, is upstaged by their sign-value: the appearance of intellectualism.

Knowledge of who contributed to whose campaign is 100% sign-value: Not only to others, but importantly also to the person itself, to the ego. "I have an informed opinion, the fact that I read the newspaper (or [...]) every day proves this." - Notice that the full report has numbers for all the minor-party candidates as well, but they're always hidden behind a "read more"-link. "There are a multitude of parties all of whom have varying amount of good and bad points" isn't quite as easy on the mind as "there are two parties and one of them is the devil and the other one is great." The story is Obama versus Romney because people want it to be. Minor parties? Knowing about them is not considered important towards "being informed".

August 30, 2012

The end of news and information

I want you to remember the following news pieces:

* the man who shot his daughters computer
* chick-a-fil and gay rights
* the debt ceiling crisis
* climate gate
Since I'm not a psychic, I cannot actually know what you remember when you think of these. However, let me guess that 1. you were very opinionated on the topics when they first reached the news and 2. you forgot almost everything about them a few days after, and I only just reminded you of them for the first time.

Well, news lose their importance when they stop being new, right? Nothing troublesome about that. Only, these aren't news. These things aren't journalism. They aren't informative. They are emotional charges. You hear about the chick-a-fil president being an asshole, you go on reddit, you make a comment about how mad you are, and then life goes on. What else would you derive from this? How about "a lot of people still don't believe in gay rights, and I believe in gay rights, therefore I should talk with people I know (ie. not reddit) about gay rights and what they think of them and see if I can't convince a few people to change their minds"? Too much work, I know. And Bill McConservative is a "thick-headed Republican" anyway, no use in talking to him, I'm sure.

The ever-increasing velocity of information has changed the entire way information affects us. World War II was an event. I don't mean "event" in the sense of "party". It was an event in the sense that it was something real. Something actually happened. The debt ceiling crisis wasn't an event, and it wasn't a crisis.

 In order to appreciate something, we need time to digest it. You can't appreciate music if you never not listen to music. If you listen to a two-hundred songs every day, can you tell me what song #153 was? It ceases to matter. With music this might be slightly troublesome. With news? 
 We are used to receiving so many "news" every single day that any one particular news-piece indeed ceases to matter. Imagine you were being a hermit for a week while the whole chick-a-fil business happened. Would anything have changed? Would you feel less knowledgable? Imagine if you were to make a list of everything you heard on the news or on reddit every day for a month. And then for every day of the month you could cross out half the items and forget about those. Would you feel less connected with society? Or would you perhaps simply feel like you wasted only half the time on reddit? If you think I'm harping about reddit too much, it is simply the most effecient machine of "getting emotional about unimportant shit" invented so far. The television or the HuffingtonPost are mostly the same, they are just not as efficient.

But these are little events, right? Or rather, little non-events? Well, what if our big events cease to matter either? What if we don't even know how to differentiate between small events and big events? Are there even events anymore? How about these:

* BP oil spill
* war in Iraq #1
* war in Iraq #2

The only thing I heard about the oil-spill since it happened was a story about it exactly one year after - it detailed how the whole problem still existed and nobody cared anymore (Nevermind all of the oilspills adjacent to the coasts of other continents, who cares about that?) As for the wars in Iraq... wait, we had two of those? Oh, right.

News coverage is always biased. Is Obama a better president than Romney would be? The answer doesn't matter. The deciding fact is that the question precludes other questions. That's what makes it biased. Is it possible to be a good president? Is the presidents power not, perhaps, already second to that of lobbyists? More importantly, is the presidentship not quite limited by statutes, rules, regulations and rituals? Is America not a quite federalistic nation in which the states possess a large amount of sovereignty? So how important is it which one gets elected? Does it warrant the amount of coverage it gets? And shouldn't there be more than two candidates? When you ask "Obama or Romney?", the answer "neither" is already precluded.
 The problem is, broadly speaking, a continuation of Watzlawicks axiom on communication: one cannot not communicate. Not sending a signal is a signal in itself. And neutrality is already biased. The question "Romney or Obama" is considered important, or the media wouldn't ask it in the first place. News coverage is therefore always biased, because it always exists at the expense of other news coverage.
 When you get down to it, however, most news coverage is drenched in irrelevance. Most questions that are being asked are the wrong ones. The majority of what the media broadcasts is distraction. The reality, as produced by the media, is exactly that: produced. A Simulacrum as by Baudrillard, which precedes, constructs, actively replaces reality.

But who is at fault for this? "The media" is not controlled by shadowy group of illuminati. The media doesn't, for the most part, collude. They only perpetuate whatever works at the time, ie. they broadcast whatever we want to hear. The media is dependant on us.
 Which means this is our fault. The power that the media holds, we gave to them. We give it to them every time we open a newspaper, or visit their webpages, or turn on the TV to watch the news. What we consume is meant for us. Let's not beat around the bush: the uselessness of our media was our wish. As a recipient, we ask for the Rausch(en)*, and it has been given to us. A simulacrum, isolated from reality, replacing reality, becoming reality. Something to be angry at ("The head of chick-a-fil is a homophobe!" - "Obamacare is socialism!"), to bathe in emotional outbursts, keeping us from taking note of more important things.

(* Rausch is german for Intoxication, rauschen is german for the technical term of random noise)

We say: the media is making us numb. But this is a generous self-portrayal, stylizing ourselves as the powerless victim of the media. Correct would be to say that we ourselves wanted to be numbed, intoxicated. For this is precisely what we wished for, to drown in an ocean of irrelevance. And now we spit water. Whenever a reporter quotes a politician, he already gives him too much credit: by quoting him, by "staying neutral", he gives unwarranted credibility. The neutrality and objectivity of journalism is fundamentally dishonest. Neutrality? You can't not communicate. Just printing the words of a person makes it legitimate. After all, why else would it be printed, right? Why is chick-a-fil news? Because it is on the news. Whatever is important gets broadcasted, ergo whatever gets broadcasted must be important. The media produces news self-referentially. Why?
 Because we want to "inform ourselves". Make no mistakes, we do not want to be informed, we just want to inform ourselves. The difference between the two is important. 
 "I want to inform myself" means the process is the important bit. What kind of information? It doesn't matter if its chick-a-fil or Obama or anything else, as long as it is something; as long as we can go through the act of informing ourselves, of "being aware what's happening". We have become machines of self-perpetuation. Politics and media are exactly the way we wanted them to be: mechanical, an automation. We get angry, we are for or against certain politicians (mostly against, anger comes cheaper than sympathy), invest emotions in staged stories. A certain stability for our subconsciousness. Our disgust and outrage becomes a daily routine, a continually repeated ritual.

There is no use in blaming FOX or CNN. The problem isn't FOX, the problem is people tuning in. The problem isn't Obama or Romney, the problem is people voting for either. But Obama and Romney is what we wanted. Right?

July 24, 2012

April 28, 2012

Was als gemäßigter Text begann und im Wahnsinn endete

Berichterstattung ist immer wertend. Ist Obama der bessere Präsident als Romney? Die Antwort ist egal. Das entscheidende ist, dass die Frage andere Fragen außen vorhält. Dadurch wird sie wertend. Was für Fragen hält sie denn aussen vor? Wie wäre es hiermit: Ist es überhaupt möglich, ein guter Präsident zu sein? Ich weise damit nicht nur auf die zynische Überlegung hin, dass Firmen und deren Lobbyisten eventuell bereits viel mehr Macht haben als der Präsident. Aber ist es nicht so, ganz nüchtern betrachtet, dass der Präsident durch eine Vielzahl von politischen Richtlinien, Regeln, Ritualen und Reglementierungen in seiner Macht stark eingeschränkt ist? Ist Amerika nicht sowieso eine eigentlich stark föderalistische Nation, in der die einzelnen Bundesstaaten sehr viel Souveränität besitzen? Wie wichtig ist es also wirklich, welcher der beiden gewählt wird?

Das Problem ist, grob betrachtet, lediglich eine Erweiterung der Watzlawickschen Unmöglichkeit, nicht zu kommunizeren. Man kann nicht nicht kommunizeren. Dadurch wird Neutralität bereits wertend.  Die Frage, wer der bessere Präsident ist, wird als wichtig wahrgenommen, denn sonst würden die Medien sie ja nicht stellen. Die Berichterstattung zu einem Thema ist immer wertend, weil sie zu Ungunsten eines anderen Themas existiert.
Falls die Amerikanische Präsidentschaftswahl dafür zu abstrakt er scheint; die Suche eines Nachfolgers für den nunmehr ehemaligen Bundespräsidenten Christian Wulff war genau das gleiche. Die großflächige Berichterstattung zum Thema Joachim Gauck exkludierte eine andere Frage: Ist das Amt des Deutschen Bundespräsidenten nicht fürchterlich unnötig? Insbesondere, wenn der Präsident von genau den Parteien gewählt wird, von denen er laut Amtsbeschreibung unabhängig sein soll? Aber diese Frage wird nicht gestellt, weil die Frage, ob Gauck ein geeigner Präsident ist, bereits die Annahme, das Amt sei wichtig,  inhärent in sich trägt. "Aber wir haben uns doch auch Gedanken zum Amt an sich gemacht," wird man sagen. Ist denn irgendetwas passiert? Wenn eine Frage (bzw. Sichtweise) erst einmal zur dominierenden wird, ist es kein Problem, wenn die anderen - wichtigeren - Fragen am Rande der Berichterstattung erscheinen. Das Grundrauschen können sie nicht übertönen.

Was man nun begreifen muss: Die allermeisten Fragen, die gestellt werden, sind die falschen. Das Wort Fragen wirkt vielleicht fehl am Platze, also sagen wir: Das allermeiste, was die Medien schreiben, sprechen, und senden, ist ablenkend. Die Realität, die von den Medien produziert wird, ist eben genau das, sie ist produziert. Ein Baudrillardsches Simulacrum, das nicht mehr mit der Realität korrespondiert, sondern diese ersetzt hat.

Dies soll keineswegs den Medien selber angekreidet werden. Denn, wie zuvor festgestellt wurde, sind die Medien vom Rezipienten abhängig. Was machen wir daraus? Die Macht, die die Massenmedien besitzen, haben wir selbst ihnen überreicht. Wir geben sie ihnen jeden Tag, wenn wir die Zeitung aufschlagen und den Fernseher anmachen. Grundsätzlich: Was wir konsumieren, ist auch für uns bestimmt. Machen wir uns nichts vor: Die Nutzlosigkeit der Massenmedien haben wir selbst hervorgerufen. Wir wollten es so. Ich sagte, dass ein Rezipient sich ein Grundrauschen wünscht. Aber ist das nicht schon grundsätzlich schlecht? Unser Wunsch, das Rauschen, der Rausch wurde erfüllt. Ein Simulacrum, von der Realität abgeschnitten, eine neue Realität. Ein Simulacrum, auf das wir wütend sein können (Was die-und-die Partei da mal wieder macht, ist eine Frechheit!), das uns emotional mitnimmt, uns dadurch davon abhält, wichtigere Dinge anzugehen, uns betäubt.

Wir sagen: Die Medien, die haben uns betäubt. Aber selbst das schiebt die Schuld noch beiseite, ist eine Selbstdarstellung, mit der wir uns zum machtlosen Opfer stilisieren möchten. Korrekt wäre, wir haben uns betäuben lassen, wir haben uns selbst betäubt. Denn wir haben uns nichts sehnlicher gewünscht, als in einem See der Irrelevanz zu ertrinken, und nun spucken wir Wasser. Man schlage eine Zeitung auf und lese. Ich schlage auf, damit der Leser es nicht tun muss:

SPD-Chef Sigmar Gabriel gab dem Spitzenkandidaten der Linkspartei, Oskar Lafontaine, die Schuld für den Wahlsieg der CDU. Das Saarland sei das Bundesland, in dem es immer noch viel "Lafontaine-Romantik" gebe. Der habe es nun geschafft, zum dritten Mal in Folge einen CDU-Regierungschef ins Amt zu bringen. "Das ist das Ergebnis seines Wirkens im Saarland." Trotzdem zeigten die Verluste der Linken, dass die Partei im Sinkflug sei. "Da bin ich mir ganz sicher."“ Zeit Online, 25/03/2012

Es ist so viel falsch an diesen Zeilen. Das Demokratieverständnis des Herrn Gabriel ist so Realitätsfern, dass man ein paar Sekunden braucht, um das ganze Ausmaß zu erkennen. Auch hier ist das Simulacrum zugange; Die Politik hat eine eigene Realität erreicht, die mit der unseren nichts mehr zu tun hat. Ebenso erschreckend ist aber der Umgang der Medien. Es wird in den Konjunktiv gestellt, es wird wiedergegeben, und sonst nichts. Ganz neutrale Wiedergabe. Nur: Man kann eben nicht nicht kommunizieren. Die Neutralität, die Objektivität des Journalismus ist verlogen, schon immer gewesen. Die Tatsache, dass der Satz eben so neutral abgedruckt wird, verschafft ihm schon Legitimität. Dass er überhaupt abgedruckt wird, bedeutet, dass er Nachrichtenwürdig ist. Ist er das? Interessiert es uns, was der Herr Gabriel von sich gibt? Es ist einer Nachricht würdig, weil wir den Herrn Gabriel, der hier als Symbol für jeden Politiker stehen mag, kennen. Der Name ist uns bekannt. Und warum ist er uns bekannt? Eben.
So beginnt die zirkuläre Selbstaufrechterhaltung von Medien und Politik. Wie wär es hiermit?

Eine neue, vorerst regierungsunwillige und -unfähige Partei, die Piraten [...]Zeit Online, 20/04/2012

Warum sind die Piraten regierungsunfähig? Weil die Zeit es so schreibt. Sie schreibt es nicht nur irgendwie, sondern ganz lässig, nebensächlich, denn quasi selbstverständlich. Es „weiß ja jeder“, dass sie nicht regierungsfähig sind. Und warum weiß es jeder? Weil die Zeit es schon vorher geschrieben hat, so wie der Spiegel, und die FAZ... Die Medien schaffen selbstreferentiell Fakten, die dann scheinbar keiner Erklärung mehr bedürfen. Auch das ist der "Neutralität" der Medien zuzurechnen.

Schale für Schale kann man sich nun die Nachrichten abschälen. Bis kaum etwas übrig bleibt. Sind die anderen Parteien denn regierungsfähig (Die Realität widerspricht)? Warum ist es überhaupt relevant, ob die Piraten regierungsfähig sind? Was ändert das an meinem Leben? Was ist Relevant? Interessiert mich all das? Ja, aber natürlich interessiert mich das, sagst du, Mann von Welt, der doch informiert sein will.

Schuld sind wir, die wir diesen Dreck akzeptieren, weil wir "uns informieren wollen". Wir wollen nicht informiert sein (Womöglich gar, um handeln zu können. Handeln? Gegen oder Für was denn?), wir wollen uns informieren; mit anderen Worten, der Prozess ist das entscheidende. - "Im Spektakel [...] ist das Endziel nichts, die Entwicklung alles. Das Spektakel will es zu nichts anderem bringen als zu sich selbst."

 Was für Informationen, zu welchem Thema, das ist egal, die Hauptsache ist, wir informieren uns, das gehört so dazu. Und so kommt denn die Wahrheit ans Licht: Auch wir wurden zu Selbstaufrechterhaltungsmaschinen. Das zirkuläre Eigenleben von Politik und Medien haben wir uns gewünscht. Es ensteht ein Alltag, mechanisch, präzise. Wir empören uns, sind für und gegen Parteien (meistens dagegen), investieren Emotionen in inszenierte Geschichten. Das gibt dem Unterbewusstsein eine gewisse Stabilität. Die Empörung wird zum Alltag, wird zum stetig wiederholten Ritual.

Es nützt nichts, den Springerverlag (Der Springerverlag und die BILD als das überzogene Symbol, die überzeichnete Karikatur eines nahezu jeden heutigen Massenmediums) anzuzünden.Weil das Problem nicht das Blatt ist, sondern die Leser. Und es nützt auch nichts, die CDU zu verteufeln und die Merkel (als das überzogene Symbol für unsere hässlichen Parteien - Grüne, CDU, SPD und die anderen, die Parteien, die das Wort "Selbstaufrechterhaltung" besser beschreiben als alles andere, diese zwecklosen Hüllen) zu beschimpfen, denn das Problem sind die Wähler, die die Politik letztlich legitimieren. Das Problem sind wir, denn wir wehren uns nicht, wir wollten es ja so.