Yes, I know that no one likes to hear it, but these are hard, cold facts. Michael Crichton said in 1999, “The information society will be dominated by those who are most skilled at manipulating the media.” He foretold Trump, plain and simple. Just look at yesterday’s immigration meeting.
WHO’S A MEDIA MANIPULATOR?
“SLOPPY STEVE” IS NOT FUNNY
Mass communication is about age old “archplot” dynamics, more than anything else. As Robert McKee outlined in his landmark 1997 book, “Story,” the first and most important element of archplot is “The Single Protagonist,” which just means the singular narrative. The importance of this was hammered home in the 2012 best seller “The One Thing.” Plain, simple, uni-dimensional, no nuance, no subtlety.
Every time you hear one of Trump’s silly nicknames — like Sloppy Steve Bannon over the past week — you shouldn’t be chuckling. The names may seem like fun, but you should be thinking of Crichton’s 1999 line that, “The information society will be dominated by those who are most skilled at manipulating the media.”
The names are simple, logical (at least based on his opinions) and most important, they are mass media-friendly, and as a result, they stick. Which is now bad news for Bannon. But at the same time nobody has forgotten Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary or Pocahantas.
And in the meanwhile, what’s the nickname Trump’s opponents have stuck on him? Nada.
THE NARRATIVE LANDSCAPE
Think about it in terms of our media-driven society. Media is narrative. You can’t score media exposure without strong narrative content (meaning large amounts of agreement, contradiction and consequence). It’s like an evolutionary “adaptive landscape” in which the element of fitness being selected for is narrative strength.
This is why I think at the moment that Oprah is the only reasonable source of hope for a Democratic presidential candidate, and why the loss of Al Franken (a media-savvy veteran) was so devastating. We now live in the media society that Niel Postman was predicting with his 1985 book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” It will continue to select for those who know how to manipulate the media, and that, more than likely, means established media veterans.
The world changes.