Yearly Archives: 2006

Executions As Entertainment

Usage Nazis, en garde! “Hung” is what pictures are, and drapes, and — by his own account — what Howard Stern is not. “Hanged” is what Saddam Hussein will be, says Aref Shahin, chief judge of the Iraqi appeals court, and just in time to be the warm-up act for… More

Paranoia and Patriotism

Early in November 2006, two days before the midterm elections, many in the UK celebrated the 401st anniversary of the attempt of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Because Fawkes and his co-conspirators were Catholic, his thwarted plan helped expand an already widespread English fear of Catholic… More

The Queen’s English

Have you seen The Queen? Great film in general: documentary-fictionalized mix, History Channel with behind-the-scenes tidbits, wonderful performance by Helen Mirren, etc. But towards the end I was knocked right out of the suspension of disbelief by an odd ambiguity in the writing. Unfortunately enough it comes out of the… More

When Is a Slap-Down a Slam-Dunk?

When it comes from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. The WSJ’s Hanukah gift to FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein is a bit of a pistol-whipping for their insistence that the proposed AT&T-BellSouth merger doesn’t create a company that extorts protection money from Web sites that want fast… More

Primary Politics as Entertainment Marketing

In Hollywood, it’s called a teaser campaign, and it’s designed to build buzz. Launching a new movie, unless it’s a sequel, is like launching a new brand, and the first step is to make people aware of its existence. In Washington, if you’re running for president, the first step is… More

Horror as Entertainment

If Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ were Mel Gibson’s bachelor’s and master’s in gore-as-good-times, then Apocalypto is his Ph.D. “Scenes of Graphic Violence and Disturbing Images” – the advisory in the R-rating box – doesn’t come close to warning viewers about rivers of blood, severed heads, beating hearts… More

The Poverty of Abundance

An article by a Princeton scholar that I just came across makes an alarming case that the more media choices that viewers have, the more likely that people who already care about news and politics will pay even more attention to news, and will vote more — but at the… More

News As Entertainment

A new study by the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation says that most Americans — 65 percent of them — choose local television news as their top source of news and information. That’s more than twice as many people who said that local newspapers (28 percent) or network news… More

The Play of Ideas

When a city decides what to do with its public spaces, it’s better to entertain lots of ideas — to play with designs, to encourage competition, to let a thousand potential flowers bloom — than to close down the process and outsource imagination to developers and bureaucrats. That’s the idea… More

Your FCC at Work

When the Third Circuit of the US Court of Appeals threw out the FCC’s revision of the rules governing media ownership, it said that the FCC needed way better empirical evidence to base its ownership formulas on. The FCC’s own studies were widely criticized as inadequate, and media watchers have… More