Fluff media as pornography crowding out real news, a counterpoint: breaking the barrier between news and reality

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Bob McCannon posted to the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) discussion list Robert Lipsyte's commentary in USA Today, A different type of porn: The Four F's — Food, Fashion, Fitness and Finances — masquerade as news, blotting out information we really need. (One post appeared to attribute the article to Kevin Taglang, and I made that mistake in my original post; this is corrected below.)

The follow-up discussion was agreement and talk about what other coverage is also so-called pornographic and not news. Here's my take:

Lipsyte's original four Fs are the things that started out as so-called lifestyles coverage- which while not even considered news by traditional standards is tellingly the only news most media organizations advertise as "news you can use."

So what does this tell us?

We need to break down the barrier between News on the one side and Your Life on the other. We need to undo the defining of hard news as "stuff you can't do anything about."

Food is intensely political.

Fashion is intensely political.*

Fitness is intensely political.

Finance is intensely political. I believe the term favored by the rich themselves is class war.

By political I mean it directly affects our lives, human decisions in centralized bureaucracies of corporations and government shape this effect, and above all: we can together take action that influences these decisions or even moves the decision-making power into our hands.

It's not that these four Fs are covered, it's how they're covered.

* I'd originally written: Fashion, well, has less direct political meaning but consumerism more broadly is intensely political as an environmental/economic issue of induced needs and as an "Opium des Volks".

Looking at the title of this post reminded me that fashion (and advertising) is intensely political as a kind of actual, non-metaphorical pornography. Add fashion's tie-in with the most powerful of needs induced by
psychological conditioning, that is, things related to body image, and in the manufacturing of social norms, especially in gender relations (again going back to soft porn and advertising), I apologize in particular to women and remove any qualification on the statement "Fashion is intensely political."

Food, fitness, and finance, meanwhile, are important parts of health, sustainability, opportunity, independence, freedom, and justice.