false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth
As usual, the panels, the elevator-encounters, the readings, the late night parties, the guest of honor speeches, and the hallway carnivals at WISCON (that marvelous feminist science fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin) left me high as a satellite for days. Truth be told, I haven’t come down yet.
At the “Reducing Global Machismo” panel(see Timmi’s summary below), Karen Joy Fowler asked the panelists (M: Timmi DuChamp, Andrea D. Hairston, Alexis Lothian, Cat Rambo) and folks in the audience what we could do about Fox News and the Disinformation that spews forth from it and similar media outlets. A great question, a sobering question.
Here is my meditation on Disinformation:
If there is no society (as former Prime Minister Thatcher once contended in her neo-conservative fantasy of humanity), then there’s just war. We isolated human agents inhabit a kill-or-be-killed battle-landscape, a grab-what-you-can, defend-it-to-the-death empire. All that we are, we owe to ourselves, our individual efforts, our battle performances. Oh, yeah, kill who’s in your way before they get the jump on you. Such a (fictional) empire of rogue individuals is the perfect setting for Global Machismo. All hail the man with the big stick! (Or Maggie in Macho Drag!)
The logical fallacies in this neo-con fantasy are too numerous to cite even with Arabic numbers at my disposal and polyglot of languages, English, offering the poetic majesty of billions of speakers though out time and space!
Endlessly chanting the rugged individualist myth doesn’t make it fact, but repetition is truth, and we live and die in our stories. Fictions direct our lives, creating/destroying our possibilities.
Five corporations own everyMEDIAthing and get to have their say all the time! Five corporations control the flickering screens that write on our brains, that etch the neural pathways that get us to act and react before critical discourse or desire or conscious belief have time to check/correct/alter our actions—well, there goes the neighborhood, the water, the air, the soil, the future.
We’re in deep do-do. What’s an agent of history, a race woman, a member of society, a collective bargainer, a queer agitator, a guerrilla theatre artist, a storyteller to do? To paraphrase Mr. Al Gore, we cannot afford to careen from denial (the situation is not really that dire) to despair (it’s so dire that there’s nothing we can possibly do).
I say to myself:
Finding a way to Reduce Global Machismo is a difficult problem to solve. That means it’s fun. Because, hard is fun. Don’t get weary, think! Maybe someone has told you again and again that human nature is fixed, stuck on foolish and selfish, and political action is boring and pointless. All the issues, wrongs, and catastrophes are on such an overwhelming scale, what else is there for the rugged individual to do but have a good time? Many someones have insinuated that only rigid killjoys are political activists and they never, never have fun. They are much too grim for a sense of humor! They think about everything. Thinking is a buzz kill.
Now really, Andrea, are you anything like that?
I talk out loud to myself, a theatre thing:
Consider that having contempt for thoughtful interactions in a media world of Disinformation is a perfect set-up for five corporations to do the thinking while the rest of us are having “mindless fun!”
So sorry, Mrs. Thatcher, I like symbiogenesis as a primary biological metaphor. See SYMBIOTIC PLANET: A NEW LOOK AT EVOLUTION by Lynn Margulis
Mitochondria and chloroplasts are the cooperative way to go—get into everything, be the energy engine!
Or for a praise song to a community of folks dreaming and scheming their way out of predatory capitalism and Thatcher’s there is no society madness get Pearl Cleage’s latest novel, TILL YOU HEAR FROM ME or any of her novels for that matter. While they’re busy changing the world, Cleage’s political activists definitely know how to have fun! Freedom is an outrageous high!
Or for an activist to support who is working against Disinformation, check out:
Sut Jhally—He is best known as the producer and director of brain popping films and videos (including Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/Power in Music Video; Tough Guise: Media, Violence and the Crisis of Masculinity. and Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire) that deal with issues ranging from gender, sexuality, and race to commercialism, violence, and politics. Sut Jhally is progressive voice at the edge of the Overton Window (see Cat Rambo’s post on Reducing Global Machismo below), pushing against the neo-conservative definition of what’s moderate or liberal.
He is also Founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation. Check that out too for info and what to do!
Like hydrogen and oxygen, let’s surprise ourselves with water!
The world we can imagine is the one we can make!
What other ideas you got?