Politically ignorant generation of sheep

Are we the generation of the politically ignorant?

politically ignorantThe word ignorant gets its root from the word ignore. Someone who is ignorant is someone who ignores. Because we ignore, we are politically ignorant.

I worry about the future of my government because I live with generations of the ignorant. We have almost no sources of news today other than the slimy slanted broadcast news stations and broadcast news centers.

Things have changed and not all change is progress.

When I was a young person, the TV networks took news seriously. The vision of Walter Annenberg attempted to present the top news stories of the day in 30-minute segments every evening.

Some even adopted 60-minute formats and news anchors tried to present the facts. Editorial content was reserved for a few small moments every few weeks when the station’s editorial staff expressly present an opinion piece.

Politically ignorant was not Walter CronkiteThere were inherent reasons why this format worked. Americans, by and large, received or purchased a daily newspaper. These papers subscribed to international bureaus like the AP or UPI and the larger papers had reporters stationed all over the globe, collecting, dissecting and evaluating the validity of the world’s happenings.

The broadcast news bureaus were not designated as profit centers. They were part of the station’s charter to serve the public interest. No one confused or polluted the broadcasts or segments as entertainment. Few were politically ignorant.

When CBS, NBC, and ABC covered the political conventions, the news anchor (like Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley) watched the event and acted as a master of ceremony diverting the live cameras to the stories taking place on the convention floor.

Everyday beat reporters, like the soon to become famous Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, asked hard hitting questions of Mayor Daley or Everett Dirkson.

What do we have today?

Drivel. Politically ignorant drivel.

Panels of talking heads replay scripted spin. The conventions themselves lack the drama of even the Academy Awards. The reason? All the outcomes and decisions are known before the convention itself. The result is ignorance.

Politically ignorantWho needs to make a considered decision when you can tune into any specific political broadcast and see and hear only from proselytizers and pundits that already agree with your pre-determined decisions?

How many Americans believe that Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly are newsmen?

This lack of discourse makes ignorance comfortable and worse still acceptable. How many of you have heard of the Pulitzer Prize-winning web site called Politifact? It is a web site dedicated to political fact checking. It looks for misinformation on both sides of the aisle.

Today, if you are unhappy with the way government is working (or not working), I say that we get the government we deserve. And we deserve the government we get.

the results of being politically ignorantI am NOT outraged over Donald Trump’s political comments concerning Russians and emails. I AM outraged that his supporters are not providing any political incentives or consequences to stop this unfiltered crap.

Political benefits at what cost? Diplomacy works only through back doors not through bullying tactics. As a nation, we pretend to abhor bulling in our schools but we seem to have no problem rewarding it in the important geopolitical arena.

So what is the end result of political thought that is unchallenged and ignored? History tells us the unbelievable and the inconceivable happens when rational objection and forethought goes out the window.

When it is suggested that we could make ourselves safer and preserve our culture… the silent majority nods in agreement. Let’s put the Jews in camps.

Facebook as news. Where will it stop?

Do we now view Facebook as news? Is it a news source?

After a live, 10-minute video of a police officer shooting a black man (Philando Castile) in Minnesota was posted on Facebook, there is a great deal of chatter about Facebook’s role in news and its responsibility because it seemed it was a media outlet posting NEWS. Facebook as NEWS has become a topic of discussion.

Philander Castille and Facebook as newsI want to say right from the start that this blog post will not touch on the footage or the event. Neither will it speak to the shooting of police officers in Dallas. This blog is about Facebook as a news organization.

Should Facebook post live videos of events? Does it have any responsibility of content? To my thinking, Facebook is schizophrenic on this subject. It censors copyrighted material. You can’t post a video on Facebook of your children at a playground if you have placed a sound bed in the background of a popular song.

Facebook wont publish it. I can’t post a photograph on my Facebook feed with text in it (like a sign that says STOP for example) because Facebook has a policy of not boosting a post with an image that contains a certain percentage of words in it. Nudity is not allowed.

Where is this going?

Facebook as news
Nick Berg

But you can post a live video of a young man bleeding to death. The images are abhorrent. No one argues with that. But where does it stop?

If Abu Musab al-Zarqawi posted a live video of his beheading Nick Berg, do you think Facebook would allow it? Not on your life.

If it did, the uproar from society would unfathomable. It seems to me that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Think abut this. Would nudity be OK on Facebook as long as it was a live video of a rape? Where does our voyeurism end?

Facebook is a part of our lives to be sure. But Facebook as news should not be.

Are we to blame for Facebook as NEWS?

Why has this happened? Why is it that for many, social media has become their news source?

Facebook as news and Fox NewsI know a good deal about branding. I know that a need in a target market creates demand. I know that meeting that need is a predictor of success. I know that we get what we deserve as often as we get what we need.

The real issue here is a turning away from real news and substituting it with pop-culture drivel. Broadcast news is just entertainment masquerading as news. The public gets affinity news broadcasting (broadcast news that sells an agenda and bias) because it does not want news.

It wants agreement with our own ignorance (from the root of IGNORE). In our hearts we know that what we see on Fox and CNN is not news. Its bent entertainment. Facebook as News. Cronkite never dreamed of it

When CBS decided that its news bureau needed to be a profit center rather than a public service, more than just personality died when Walter Cronkite passed away. We lost NEWS.

Think about the demise of the newspaper. Subscriptions are in decline. Reporters are being let go and readership is running for cover.

There is responsibility in live postings

Facebook as news and Marshall McLuen
Marshall McLuen

To my thinking, I am upset that Facebook posts crap like this. There is no editorial ownership, as there once was with CBS. Facebook thinks it is doing a public service by showing our lives in its raw experiential form. I think we have enough reality TV, thank you very much. I don’t need to see everything in its raw form.

I need that as much as I need the bizarre talking heads on Fox News spinning everything they report. I’m hungry for knowledge, not to witness the wost of humanity. Will Facebook spend time and money making sure that similar videos are edited for agendas? When will we be finished as a modern society of Peeping Tom’s?

I think the killing in Minneapolis would have been real news without the Facebook post. The news was not the shooting. The news was that it was “captured live on Facebook. Marshall McLuhan was right. The medium IS the message. Too bad. Too bad.

Bodyform. Bloody, real, important?

Have you seen the new Bodyform TV Commercial?

The pregnant man and the BodyForm Commercial
Saatchi used boldness to great effect

Bodyform got me thinking. I started my career in brand building and advertising many years ago with Saatchi & Saatchi in London. At the time, it was the largest and possibly the most influential ad agency in the world. I don’t think you would get much of an argument with advertising historians and adfolks in general if I stated that the best advertising in the world was coming out of the UK in those days. It was at times edgy, funny, controversial and often provocative.

Is the UK raising the bar again? I ‘ll leave that to you to decide. A friend brought the new BodyForm TV commercial to my attention and was even kind enough to ask for my opinion on it. The truth is, my opinion does not count for much as I am not the target audience for menstrual pads. But I have to say, it seems to fulfill all of my prejudices for great advertising and communication.

Bodyform PackagingIt is bold, unapologetic and controversial. The spin on the web has been mostly positive as the brand has been praised for its use of real blood in the ad and equating a woman’s regular menstral cycle as being as common place as athletics, striving and accomplishment. I think it works on that level.

Bodyform is blazing its own path

But I would really like to hear what you think (I’m talking to the females here). Is it pandering or real? Is it too clever or does it hit you as authentic? Is it too symbolic or does it make the brand (and therefore the user) feel heroic? Do you feel strongly about the brand? Does Bodyform represent something that you want to identify with?

Bodyform BloodMy friend Pam, who brought my attention to the ad, said this: “I understand where they’re coming from. Women are powerful, menstruation is part of being a woman, we bleed. But the imagery, especially the beginning, sets an uncomfortable tone. The woman under water with blood on her head looks like a victim of a horrible crime, that stays with me for the rest of the ad.”

Great communications and great advertising should shine a bright beam of light on the brand itself and the identification that the target audience develops or possesses with the brand. The worst advertising brings attention to itself. The message becomes secondary to the medium itself. What’s the truth here?

I leave that to you to tell me.

Thailand buddhist temple tigers

Thailand Buddhist Temple Tigers

buddhist temple tigersThe news about 40 dead tiger cubs at the Thailand Temple makes me cringe. So I ask, what is your personal responsibility in embracing a brand of Buddhist Temple Tigers as your own?

I’m going to make the argument that it is a deadly serious responsibility. One that most of us ignore (the root of the word ignorant).

Why should it surprise any of us that any tourist venues (and the Buddhist Temple resplendent with tigers was just that) that have us interact with animals in what appears to be an unnatural way is a form of exploitation. When we participate in this charade, we endorse it. It becomes our personal brand.

I remember as a kid my folks took my sister and I on a station wagon vacation. These types of vacations were the norm for my family so it wasn’t until my 16th birthday that I first rode in an airplane. My Dad drove us everywhere, but that is a meaty story for another day.

It was the summer of 1964 and our family began a cross country trek from our home in New Jersey to Yellowstone National Park. Mom and Dad were not the adventurous type and I don’t remember doing any REAL hiking in the park. On the contrary, my experience in the park was restricted to boardwalk pedestrian access to hot springs, photo oportunities and point of interest.

Buddhist Temple tigers are like bear jams

The highlight for me, the nine year old, was certainly the bear jams. A bear or a mother bear and her cubs took up a begging position on a main road and everyone filed out of the car to feed the begging animals candy, cookies or chips. When the ranger finally arrived and forced everyone to leave (because we were all in some danger, being inches away from a wild animal) the bear jam dispersed and everyone piled back in their cars seeking the next jam a mile or so up the road.

No one mentioned the danger TO the poor bear. No one said it was unnatural and unhealthy for a bear to become habituated to people, reliant on hand-outs for food and, worse still, nourished on a diet of human junk food.

Ten years later and the bears were gone. The National Park Service began to really crack down on tourists who stopped and fed bears. It closed the dumps in the park where bears congregated for easy food and installed bear-proof trash cans everywhere in the park.

Today, there may be an occasional bear jam but it is when a brownie or grizzly is spotted hundreds of yards away moving in its natural habitat. When you visit Yellowstone today, your brand is that of an unspoiled naturalist. Good for everyone. Including the bears.

But, as I scan Facebook for the comings and goings of friends and friends of friends, I can’t tell you how many, otherwise smart people, go to swim with the dolphins and think the animals are perfectly happy to haul humans around on their dorsal fins. My God. Watch The Cove and see just how these animals are captured and the amount of tranquilizers they must be fed to keep them docile and only a little crazy.

Outrage over the movie Black Fish has pressured Sea World to change its focus on Shamu (at least a little bit of change) and Ringling Brothers has retired its elephants.

How ignorant can we be?

Buddhist Temple TigersBut we are surprised that the Buddhist Temple tigers in Thailand, which has become de rigueur for Bangkok tourists who pay $100 to have their picture made with adult Tigers, is natural? What is it about these Buddhist monks that makes these solitary uber-predators docile? That’s easy. It’s called mistreatment. Tigers don’t care about your philosophy, vegetarian diet or religion. They don’t even care if you practice non-violence. Tigers are tigers.

They need our protection not domestication. Its easy to recognize that something terrible is actually going on.

So when you visit a dolphin enclosure, the Buddhist Temple Tigers, a circus (with trained lions and tigers) or a Sea World-type park, your brand is not innocent tourist. Your brand is exploitative human. Selfish and ignorant.

ESPN shuts down Grantland

Sad news: Grantland is no longer.

The biggest disappointment of my day so far is not being able to visit the Grantland website and see what stories are waiting for me this morning.

That’s because parent company ESPN pulled the plug on the sports/culture site on Friday, months after it parted ways with founder Bill Simmons. A long-time and fruitful relationship between ESPN and Simmons broke when ESPN suspended him last year over comments about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. (Simmons called him a liar.)

Grantland
Bill Simmons created a great site in Grantland.

Over the summer, Simmons and ESPN parted ways and now Simmons is headed to HBO for a show to premiere in the spring, while also doing his popular podcasts today.

The Grantland site, which lasted for four years, had to my mind some of the best sports and culture writing on the Internet today. Wesley Morris, a Pulitzer Prize winner while the film critic at the Boston Globe, is simply the best culture writer in country. He saw the writing on the wall a few months ago, leaving Grantland for The New York Times.

But there were a host of others to note: NFL writer Bill Barnwell, TV critic Andy Greenwald, NBA writer Zach Lowe and too many others to mention. They are all so talented that I’m sure we’ll see them in other outlets. But it’s still sad that the dream of Grantland is no longer.

And, sadly, ending the site was the right thing for ESPN to do.

ESPN and Grantland was a doomed marriage.

I’m sorry to see Grantland go but it didn’t fit the new ESPN brand, especially when Simmons was no longer apart of ESPN and Grantland. He was the link between the two. Grantland followed Simmons’ lead, which meant it was smart, witty, insightful, enthusiastic and irreverent.

Grant land didn’t exactly stop being that when Simmons left but ESPN, sadly, no longer represents all the things that made Grantland great. ESPN is now the brand of hot takes, in which two sides argue inanely over subjects like, “Why isn’t LeBron James clutch?” (despite winning two NBA titles) or “Why is Tim Tebow starting somewhere?” (because he can’t play the NFL quarterback position). It’s the network of Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith, of Chris Berman and Ray Lewis. Mike & Mike. The network of being louder than anyone else without offending the sports leagues that pay its bills. It’s both Donald Trump and Jeb Bush.

Of course, there are exceptions. ESPN the Magazine has terrific writers and there are special talents like Scott Van Pelt and Michelle Beadle on air. College GameDay is a go-to Saturday morning show.

But the long-form culture and sports writing that made Grantland the best in the industry is not what ESPN stands for anymore. ESPN just couldn’t make Grantland fit into its own structure, something even Simmons lamented. He claimed ESPN never supported Grantland and I’ll bet that’s because ESPN, as a brand, didn’t know what to do with it. It didn’t have brand permission.

So, for now, I’ll just have to listen to Simmons’ podcasts while waiting for his appearance on HBO, reading Morris in NYT and hoping to see Grantland’s other very talented writers pop up elsewhere.

But ESPN had little choice. Its brand doesn’t mean the things that would have supported Grantland.