Tag Archives: Media

Orson Welles, Broadcasts and Fake News by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Orson Welles’ spectral return to the screen, ingeniously in posthumous mode, should have come as a comfort to the magicians skilled in the arts of trickery.  Beyond the grave, he seems to be exerting a continuing influence, with his film, The Other Side of the Wind making its debut after 48 torrid years at the Telluride Film Festival.  His delight for illusion and the magical manipulations of the camera would not have been out of place in the anxiety filled age mistakenly called the “post-truth” era.

fake02_400Starting momentously grand and at summit greatness in Citizen Kane, and heading low into financial difficulty and stuttering projects, his genius was as prodigious as his luck was absent.  His aptitude in mastering the brutish nature of the directing set was unquestioned – except in Hollywood.  Throughout he was plagued by the curse that money has over the genius of expression.  Power and control do not necessarily entail backing and profits – for Welles, it was the sheer sense of doing something, the need to run multiple projects that might never have seen the light of day.  His mind, and application, proved inscrutably errant.

What Welles did master, to an extent, was the degree of fakery, creating a world of illusion that refuses to date.  The word “fake” has a certain pejorative quality, having been further stained by its users in the age of Donald J. Trump, often in connection with that other unreliable companion, “news”.  But Welles managed to give it a boost of respectable guile, a teasing sense of about how other realities might be seen. Now, to challenge such ways of seeing by claiming them to be fake would either make you a mental patient or a US president.  For Welles, it was a cinematic experiment or a broadcasting contrivance, an effort to alter the senses and entertain.

Welles could hardly have been despondent about this age, he being the finest exponent of the values of fakery.  He would have gotten down to work, tyrannically engaged with his staff in producing a fine work on the odiously named “post-truth world” (since when was there a fully truthful world in any case, one pulsating with verity?).

His most delightful ribbings would have now been subsumed under such tags as misinformation, crowned by the meaningless nature of fake news.  Could he have gotten away with the radio announcement made on October 30, 1938 that extra-terrestrials had, in fact, landed on earth and attacked it with single minded fury?  Any empanelled jury would have to ponder.

The occasion is worth retelling. Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, and the Mercury Theatre group, featured, along with an updated version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  National radio supplied the thrilling medium and the delivery.  “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the air in the ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.”  A mild mannered, sensible start.

For more HERE!

Ovi magazine

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, ovi magazine

The Fake News Inquiry: Old Wine in New Bottles by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Aovicover_01_02_17ny inquiry into fake news is much like having a Royal Commission into the make up and motivation for Halal food. (The latter absurd proposition has been put forth by a few Australian politicians irritated by the Islamist bogeyman.)  Neither mission is particularly helpful, other than to illustrate a mounting ignorance about a phenomenon that always was.

In the United Kingdom, the Culture, Media and Sports Committee has made an announcement that it will investigate claims about the public being persuaded by untruths and the dazzling influence of propaganda.

Invited submissions are to consider, among others, such questions as to what fake news is and where “biased but legitimate commentary shade into propaganda and lies”; the impact of such news on “public understanding of the world, and also on the public response to traditional journalism”

In the hyperbolic words of committee chairman Damian Collins MP, the rise of such fabrications constituted “a threat to democracy and undermines the confidence in the media in general”. The point is almost prosaic, given that Britain has been labouring under such fabrications and propaganda for a good deal since the seedy reign of tycoon Rupert Murdoch commenced.

A society that actually reads The Sun for factual enlightenment is bound to be a victim of the now touted propaganda that is supposedly afflicting the public. It is astonishing that the only reason that “fake news” has renewed currency is because of recent flavourings emanating from the alt-right, or from the Kremlin. In truth, the condition is a pre-existing one in the fourth estate.

Fake news is standard: cereal, wheat and bran, the fibre of the information world. It has been the foodstuff of media for decades, if not centuries. What matters now is the outrage felt by those in news outlets who believe that a tinge of objectivity still remains in the process of news production. It ignores that news that is often not authentic has always been the mainstay of journalism, a case of unchecked sources, careless investigation or, in some cases, pure invention.

Read the whole article in Ovi Magazine, HERE!

Leave a comment

Filed under Media