The Spectacle of the News Media

Susan Sontag wrote of people who truly believed that their image—captured on film—was really a small part of their soul.  A glimpse of the inner person.   The property of the individual, stolen by the camera.  For some reason, thinking about this: 

kimphuk-napalm-girlA horrible private moment of a little girl, that became the property of the world.  Her pain was our pain.  This image became cinematic in one girls pain. 


For some reason in thinking about spectacles, I kept coming back to this: 


The entire OJ Simpson saga—from the murders, to the low-speed chase; the acquittal to the conviction last month have been a media spectacle that spanned 14 years.  A made for television spectacle, which really belonged to the media.  The audience long ago let us know that they were OJ’ed out. The media watched for 14 years, reporting OJ Simpson’s every move.  Waiting for the inevitable.  Simpson’s downfall. 

There were parts of the OJ case that could be considered cinematic.  The chase. Johnny Cochran’s poetic closing argument. Dominick Dunne’s face when the verdict was read (which looks a lot like his face in the glove picture).

The media has the capability of making events into spectacles. The Simpson case is proof.  And when they do, it belongs to the media and the audience, but more to the media, they create the spectacle, take pride in their ownership, and when it’s over, they report on their reporting of the spectacle.  


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