"God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables... slaves with white collars. Advertising has its taste in cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, no purpose or place. We have no Great War. No great depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd be millionaires, movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, VERY PISSED OFF." This is a quote from the character of Tyler Durden in the 1999 movie Fight Club.
This quote is an intricate summary of the current generation of twenty/thirty-something-year-olds. It highlights the fact that this generation was "raised on television" and one the film's main themes is how the misuse of media has corrupted the minds of those it influenced beyond repair. And the worst part? It's all true
The media world today is a strange one. Why are there so few political or current affairs themed programmes on our television screens? Why are the so many American comedies on our screens? Why is it so hard to find a balanced, unbiased news report on the "war" in Iraq?
When John Reith founded the BBC in 1922, as director general, he developed strong ideas about educational and cultural public service responsibilities of a national radio service. He based his ideas on Plato's philosophy that if you allow the human soul to come into contact with the Good, the True and the Beautiful, the soul will respond. His three aims were to inform, to educate and to entertain. What became of his admirable ideology? Why is it that the main use of media now is seemingly entertainment?
Could it be argued that the current misuse of media power is the result of private media ownership? If a businessperson owned a large media empire, would they have any moral concern if their media had a negative effect on society, as long as they were making money? Surely, a government would have a far greater concern for how the generation of tomorrow was affected by the media. If the government were to control the media, couldn't they mould the current youth into fine and upstanding citizens of the future? But what if the media businessperson somehow gained more influence than the government? What if they had so much power, the government was afraid of them because the outcome of the next election could literally be decided by that businessperson? Does this sound familiar? Welcome to 2005. Welcome to our lives
The likes of Silvio Berlusconi, Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner immediately spring to mind.
Berlusconi is Prime Minister of Italy but he also owns three Italian television networks and a huge print-media empire. Berlusconi's three national TV networks, Canale 5, Rete 4 and Italia 1, control more than 90 percent of the television advertising revenue in the country and 45 percent of the audience. He also has two daily newspapers and many magazines. Berlusconi is both government and businessperson (with respect to my above description) but he is still a businessperson, which means that money is his goal. It could be argued that his political involvement could eliminate his business competition making him effectively a media dictator. "This is the only country in the world where the political parties must pay their political adversary in order to run an election campaign," says Giuseppe Giulietti, a communications expert and Member of Parliament with the Left Democrats. Berlusconi even bought part of German TV magnate Leo Kirsch's media empire (and vice versa) to allow them to get around national antitrust laws in their own countries while retaining effective control. Berlusconi's estimated worth is over $10 billion.
In 1980, Ted Turner established the Cable News Network (CNN), television's first 24-hour news channel, which was first met...