Many years ago I went to a drive-in theatre offering a weekend triple feature. The first film was forgettable; the second, some old radioactive monster rerun and the third, for the late night crowd, was technically a sex hygiene movie.
After the second movie most of the cars in attendance, aside from tires crunching gravel, rolled quietly and sedately into the night. But for those of us who insisted on getting our full money’s worth from the triple feature, a few cars were left here and there, still attached to their respective speaker posts, scattered in isolation about the stony, windrowed lot.
For decades after I remembered the movie title as “Adam and Eve”. That might well have been a dodge at the time by the vendors to evade local censorship. I couldn’t find anything similar by that exact name but I did discover a film that had in fact been making the rounds of the drive-in movie circuit since the mid 1940’s titled simply “Mom and Dad”.
Imagine yours truly, sitting there in the starry darkness, hands clutching the steering wheel, gazing up in awe at a forty-foot tall vagina. (Thinking back, I could just scream!)
Imagine that. A forty-foot tall vagina. Yikes!
All media distort reality. A projected image on a drive-in movie screen is obviously a distortion of size. The movie or “moving picture” as a medium itself is an optical illusion comprised as it is of a series of still images passing quickly before ones eyes.
CinemaScope, Cinerama, widescreen, whatever . . .
But all forms of media distort reality. A book for example, is a medium (of communication between the author and the reader) that distorts time. It takes time to write a book; it takes time to print a book; it takes time to distribute a book; it takes time to read a book. Most books in the public library are communications from authors long dead. Atop that time distortion the subject matter of the book may be about events that actually happened thousands of years ago and in a place far away. Intrinsic to all books is a distortion of time, often place, and truth in description and accuracy of the report. Of course, with so many genres, books are also subject to the individual author’s fancy and bias.
Like a germ-covered spitball hurtling through space, billions of human lives play themselves out simultaneously all over the world, but the mass media reports only a minuscule portion of it and ignores all of the rest. They only report what they think important. So there is a distortion of the magnitude of importance, a hierarchy of the importance of a handful of people and of issues dictated by the author or editor-in-chief of the particular news outlet (the medium) in question. The doings and opinions of celebrities carry more weight and garner more sympathy than you and I are worthy of.
Camera distortion is a topic in two parts: what the camera sees and what it does not see. There is always far more of what it does not see than what little it does see. A simple photograph captures but a moment in time – but that time is long past. The hands of the clock keep on turning.
There are those who become so intimately engaged in a television soap opera or drama they actually believe the characters portrayed are genuine and real. Still others read a book or watch an old movie and become enraged or frightened by it; while others become weepy sacks of soggy sentimentality. There is an emotional component to media distortion as well.
Those producers of advertising, propaganda, and entertainment have all made a study of the emotional response of their audience, and elicit it – distort it – manipulate it – for their own purposes and gain. Some have more empathy and respect for fictional characters than they do for real people.
Yet another distortion in the media is “The Suspension of Murphy’s Law“. Murphy’s Law is always suspended for Hollywood heroes. If a mistake is made the Director yells “Cut!” “Lets do that again and get it right.” Real Life never works so well. The hero’s flawed humanity is thus removed and he becomes a subtle insult and belittlement to all the rest of us merely mortal men.
In the print medium there are editors to catch all the errors prior to publication. And if it were not for Spell Check a lot of people would be exposed as dummies.
The bible warns us against graven images, but do we listen? Not at all. We are awash in distortions of time, and of space, and magnitude of importance; some deliberate and some not.
(I have friends on Facebook who expect me to keep an eye out for lost puppies from four states away. I’ll do my best, if you think it will help;)
Egocentricity is yet another, more personal distortion, one of self-importance and prioritization.
This essay is not about the forty-foot vagina that lesser men would find so intimidating – but about media distortion ruling over our lives. We fret continually about things impertinent to ourselves. We rage about past injustices and worry about a future that will never happen. We have issues shoved under our noses that are important only to the media hustlers themselves.
Deliberate or otherwise, in combination, these myriad distortions make for very poor personal judgment and a miserable, distorted life.
The greatest distortion is one of kinship. The media are neither friends nor family. You do presume. While one may argue that the technology per se is morally neutral, that is hardly the case in application. These are strangers in your home; oftentimes alone with your children, performing their devious ploys. You spend much more time with the media than you ever do with your own kith and kin. It is a travesty – a true horror.
If you are in the habit of voting chances are excellent you’ve voted for people you’ve never actually met in the flesh and know little to nothing about. You simply take the media’s word for practically everything. That too, is a horror.
Again, the media are neither friends nor family, and yet you feel a kinship and a false intimacy with these strangers unjustified by reason.
I observe too many irrational people insistent upon fearfully walking backward through life, and viewing reality through a warped carnival fun-house mirror. Distortion is everywhere.