Lady C's InfoNapsterizer

It slices, it dices, it chops, it analyzes...

8.21.2004

Narratives -- GWB's "lies" meet the needs of his audience

Maryscott O'Connor over at MyDD provides a handy itemization (with some personal additions) of David Corn's encylopedic compendium of President Bush's falsehoods, distortions of facts, and misrepresentations.

And it's stimulated an excellent response from a reader, who notes that "They're not lies, they're stories."

There is a difference. It is extremely important to 1) understand Mr. Bush as a storyteller, and 2) in the moment of understanding that, turn away from the storyteller and look instead at his audience. Who does not do these things understands nothing and can accomplish nothing

And in a followup post: Think about storytelling.

Think about what it is, why it is done, and what its audience gets from it. I am not making any excuses for the Republicans. What I am pointing out is that there is a huge and authentic demand for today's Republican stories. Mr. Bush is not the only one who tells them; many others tell them, in both paler and more lurid forms. It doesn't matter who tells them. What matters is who listens, and why.

The prevailing top-down understanding of totalitarianism is completely wrong. It must be supplanted by a bottom-up view. For example, no one has ever come close to grasping the real evil of Nazism, because they focus on Hitler, which is cheap, easy and completely uninformative. True understanding begins when you realize that Hitler (like every totalitarian dictator) was a figurehead, and start to ask what he was a figurehead for.

Excellent! Though I don't agree with "Hitler as figurehead" -- he was a leader who succeeded because he invented an explanatory narrative that helped his audience make sense of a great deal of confusion and anxiety.

Why hasn't this become a meme whizzing through the internet? Probably because the reverse story -- "Bush lies" -- is equally necessary for his opponents as a powerful explanatory narrative.

Is this really what all this Alice-in-Wonderland (courtesy The Poorman) we're experiencing comes down to?

So, I have a question: are we really talking about this? I'm not dreaming? Because I have dreams this weird sometimes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, really, when you think about who made this ad, and who they made it for. People who believe that dinosaur bones were planted by Satan to trick unsuspecting archaeologists into atheism. People who think that the National Academy of Sciences is a front organization for radical leftists who want to take away your freedom by saying that climate science is real. People who think that Jesus talks to George Bush. (Jesus hasn't suffered enough for you, now he has to spend his free time with that smirking pussy? Give Jesus a break already.) People who think that FOX News is, actually, fair and balanced. Basically, people who think that if the facts don't support what you want to believe, you probably aren't believing hard enough. Oh, and they run the country. Yeah, this one. Nice.

How far gone are we? We're so far gone that Chris Mathews thinks it's ridiculous. That's how far gone we are. We're completely through the looking glass here, people.

Are we all the way through the looking glass because we have ferociously competing narratives that suit distinct audiences and the MSM can't begin to disentangle specific stories or incidents from the emotional needs of their respective audiences?

5 Comments:

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