Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Weird Media Events and Conspiracy Theories

Wark writes:

"The 'global village' is a fractious and contentious place, particularly when the lightning strike of an event gives way to the thunder of a thousand pundits explaining it away. Local interpretive strategies and authorities invariably script the event in terms which make it appear as if it were meant to make sense within the dominant local framework."

The phenomenon of conspiracy theories can be partially explained by peoples' need to justify weird media events within the framework of the ordinary story forms that they expect events to follow. 9/11 is notable for the variety and number of conspiracy theories that it has spawned, and it is no coincidence that 9/11 was one of the most disruptive weird media events of the internet era. Without the main media channels able to feed a simple plotline to the public, they turned to a new media, the web, to find simple plotlines that allowed the events of 9/11 to fit into the framework of familiar, personal stories, instead of acknowledging the abstract forces that shape global events.

What has brought about this need to fit weird media events into the context of a more personal and continuous plotline? Is it due to some innate inability of humans to accept deviations without questioning them, or have we been spoiled so badly by the mass media's constant simplification of new events that we cannot process anything that doesn't fit one of the patterns we've been trained to recognize?

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