With stardust in our eyes and worthless fluff on our minds it’s difficult to perceive reality. The glamorous shine is too bright, the din too distracting, to even see the doors behind which deals are being made that seal the fate of a nation, potentially for generations to come. We’re too concerned with celebrity gossip and the anecdotes of acclaimed hot shots of the film industry to educate ourselves on the deals being made by our business leaders and politicians—and wasn’t that the same guy that screwed everybody over just last year? How’s that for juicy gossip?
We wonder, sometimes to ourselves and sometimes even aloud, why people don’t seem to care. Why people don’t show up to protest anymore when their country is being sold. Why people don’t seem bothered with the ongoing involvement of corrupt, immoral and criminal men and women in Iceland’s economy—the economy that they murdered but the re-growth of which they feel entitled to play a part in and financially benefit from. Not enough people are paying attention, not enough people are blowing whistles, not enough people care to inform themselves. Or is it that the very people charged with informing the public have gone to bed with the corrupt among us?
The media is the watchdog of the people in a functioning society. It is in a privileged position that comes with the responsibility of passing along pertinent information to the masses, the people not able or allowed to see what goes on behind the velvet rope. A society with a functioning media will not burn out. It will not tire from constantly feeling bulldozed by the onslaught of secret deals and corporate deception unearthed after the fact. It will be active and educated and in power—fitting since democracy is, by definition, power by the people.
Walter Lippmann equated mass society to a bewildered herd, incapable of thinking for themselves and incapable of comprehending the world beyond the pictures in their heads, the pictures put there by the powerful and wealthy and the media (technically also part of the herd) that bows to power and wealth, the media that functions as a lap dog of corporations and governments rather than as the watchdog of the people. At the beckon call of the ones with money and the ones with power and the ones who feel entitled to paint the pictures that will occupy the heads of the herd, some media is trained to throw dust in our eyes and distract us from what is really important in life.
It will be interesting to see what pictures Davíð Oddsson will paint at the helm of Morgunblaðið.