Klosterman’s rant on the stupidity of the laughter track is pretty understandable. If a population needs a cue to know when to find something funny, something is wrong. He also makes an insightful observation on an extremely obvious phenomenon in our culture, the need for the conversation chuckle. As to whether the laugh track came before or after this social practice is arguable, but this assessment raises the question how much can media shape social practice (as we well know it can just be seeing advertising). If our culture is full of individuals who are not confident enough to know when to laugh how much more do we rely on the media to cue us in?
These little idiosyncrasies extend far beyond a 4 second laugh track. Media, whether by our own fault or not has become our crutch. Other students have commented on our implicit need to have theme music for mood or other little tricks like the ‘ba-boom bang’ for the butt of a joke. What of the larger effects like full on manipulation of information mediation…. Pictures that lie. Pictures are said to say a thousand words, but these words can be changed in a million different ways. Lighting, airbrushing, cropping, adding and subtracting images; its no wonder we need a confidence boost, we can’t even trust our own eyes with a still picture let alone a moving one.
I believe one of the more effective techniques would be erasing/adding images to an original picture. Granted for art purposes it can create beautiful contrast, but what about general media? Just take a look at this large scale scam over Osama bin Laden’s death with mashed a picture of bin Laden with a Black Hawk Down, or this one on an air raid which doubled the amount of smoke over the city. The political, racial and various other agenda’s are often achieved through this full scale change, a small easing here, a copy and paste over there. But how ever small these things are they make a hug impact on the viewer.
No doubt that some of you scanned this article and probable read this post out of some emotional response to these images. Knowing they are fake, how confused are you? This technique, no matter how archaic it may be in comparison to the other cool Photoshop skills, will always be effective if disguised. Sadly immunization is really not that possible. Even knowing that images are lying emotions can not be controlled. Our best protection is constant scrutiny, checking of sources and finding the confidence to do so.