Do we always need a spectacle?



For some people, the internet has the same effect as beer: The higher the consumption, the lower the inhibitions and the higher the wish for a cheap spectacle. Needless to say, this is not all that different from TV, with the notable exception that while no one really cares if you yell at your TV set, on the internet you can tell everyone what you think. And this is exactly where it sometimes gets a bit iffy (see, for example, this article that I just linked to yesterday).

Another current example is provided by what has now been inflated into a “Trump versus Rosie” spectacle (if you don’t know one - or maybe even both - of those people don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything important). A while ago, on his blog Alec Soth commented on the photography coming out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, asking Where are the people?. This caused a flurry of comments, eventually leading to Robert Polidori leaving a comment (which frankly left me somewhat startled) and Alec posting another entry with a clarification. Here’s the key quote from it: “Just to be clear, I never said that Polidori (or the others) did anything wrong. I didn’t criticize the use of beauty and certainly did not suggest a moral failure. My point was quite simple. ‘While it is worthwhile to see the architectural devastation of New Orleans,’ I wrote, ‘I also want to see the people - the lives actually living in this mess.’”

How is this not absolutely clear? How does this look like there is some sort of “skirmish” going on? How does this justify turning a discussion about a very interesting topic into a “Trump versus Rosie”? What is being gained from turning this into the kind of freak show that we now appear to be mistaking for “culture”?

PS: Also see another article from a Guardian blogger.