I am sitting among feminists. I am sitting among radical lefties. I am sitting among activists. We discuss ideas for action. Every time, no matter what the action, the whisper will come around, and it will piss all over the nascent plans we had developed. “But that will look bad in the papers. They’ll use that against us.”
Every time, the same. Ideas are aborted purely because of the fear of what the media might think.
The same thing happens in the aftermath of a protest. After March 26th, for example, the left descended into an orgy of backbiting: black bloc made us look bad, UK Uncut made us look bad, UK Uncut need to say they had nothing to do with black bloc so our media overlords will be sated. It was the worst orgy ever.
At the moment, this obsession with how the media views activism is apparent in the squabbling over Jonnie Marbles and a pie. There is still squabbling over that bloody pie. In the initial half an hour post-splat, much of the hand-wringing was over how a parliamentary process may have been disrupted. When it became apparent that the show went on completely as advertised, it shifted. This will look bad in the media, they chattered, Murdoch will come across sympathetically. We must call for a purge of the left, starting with Comrade Marbles.
I have seem more people worrying about sympathy from Murdoch in the media than actual sympathy for Murdoch in the media.
At any rate, why should what the media think about us matter at all?
Our newspapers and television channels are owned by a small bunch of rich white men, and represent pet projects for disseminating their rich white male views. They have a vested interest in maintaining their own power, and anyone who challenges their position is ultimately viewed as a threat. To the media, feminists, socialists, anarchists, environmentalists, those who suggest that the rich white men who rule the world, are dangerous.
They do all they can to defame us: feminists become paranoid man haters; environmentalists, smelly tree-huggers; anarchists violent mindless thugs. This will happen whatever activists do. If Cthulu rose and was defeated by me, the Daily Mail would probably run a story about how I only vanquished the monster-god because he was male, and anyway I’m a massive slut, and isn’t that terrible?
No matter what we do, it will ultimately be used against us in the media. Why should we march to the beat of their drum? It makes us no better than the politicians. Look at Ed Miliband. He provides no real opposition to government because he is so hell-bent on satisfying the media. Look at the discourse surrounding the deficit. Politicians are not supposed to point out that we do not really need to bother with getting rid of the deficit, because the media has jumped upon the idea that if we do not reduce it, Hitler will ride out of hell on velociraptor. Look at discourse surrounding immigration. No politician will say “Actually, why don’t we talk about how immigration is not A Bad Thing at all?” This is because they must all play into the media narrative, that forrins and darkies are taking over the country and OH MY GOD THIS IS TERRIBLE WHY CAN’T CHURCHILL COME AND KILL THEM WITH A SPITFIRE?
Instead of attempting to appease those who we should actively be trying to challenge, we need to disseminate our own narratives. Trust in the mainstream media is low. Talking, pamphlets, direction to good readings, and more talking to people. That is how we spread our message. We cannot get it across through the mainstream media. They will not let us.
It is time to stop caring what the media thinks of us, and time to start telling the world what it is that we stand for.