Many readers might have noticed that depictions of people and institutions in popular culture are often at odds with reality. In previous eras, the large gap between fictional images and reality was less glaring, because most people had access to only one or two sources of information, often under elite control. Furthermore the communitarian nature of living in those eras made it difficult to hold opinions and ideas that were at odds with the “majority” even if the consensus was stupid, irrational or even suicidal. The spread of ubiquitous communication technologies, such as the internet, and high levels of social atomization has irreversibly changed this situation. Hence the gap between fiction and reality is now wider and far more obvious.
For example- It is now common knowledge that both sides in the American Civil War were equally racist and believers in some kind of mythical white racial supremacy. Likewise, many now know that those who founded the American Republic did so largely to enrich themselves, rather than start some noble experiment in democracy. Another example is the now widespread understanding that the ‘New Deal’ and other populist sops from the FDR era were driven by political, rather than humanitarian, considerations. However these now common, if somewhat alternative views, are still rarely depicted in mass media which tries to unsuccessfully reinforce the old myths.
One of the most widely promoted myth in popular culture and media concerns the popular image of various institutions. For example- TV shows are full of noble cops, smart detectives, thoughtful judges, competent and selfless physicians, teachers who care about their students when even a cursory observation of real life suggests that the converse is true. TV and Films (henceforth referred to as ‘Hollywood’) even promote the idea that national intelligence agencies are full of highly competent, motivated and enthusiastic people possessing tons of ‘super-secret’ technologies with an omnipotent control over events when events in real life have repeatedly shown them to be the product of wishful thinking.
Categories: Economics/Class Relations