The Election 2015 and the Manufacture of Media ‘Objectivity’

Everyday Analysis has been a little
‘Lacanian’ on current issues recently – not least the general election –
remaining silent whilst the chatter continues all around and seeks to solicit
responses, not to mention votes. With all the X-Factor-style playing-to-the-gallery in the media so far the election
campaign machines this year have more than of late cottoned on to the
atmosphere of voterly vacillation and sought to plug the electorate’s desiring-machines
back into the social-, ‘political’-, choice-,
big Other-, Machine of full-on canvassaturation (to use a little Deleuze/Guattarian
terminology). But what of this voterly ‘vacillation’ itself?

image

To take one of so many ways in, we might
discuss Ed Miliband’s agreeing to an interview with Russell Brand for The
Trews
, lambasted on the front pages of the established newspapers
before the interview was even broadcast, from being described as a ‘gamble’ by
the Guardian to the right-wing rags
toeing David Cameron’s branding Brand a ‘joke’ – whom he ‘doesn’t have to hang
out with’ – line, Katie Hopkins et al
of course forming his celebrity coterie, as the New
Statesman
states. But the New
Statesman
here somewhat misses the mark too, for what is implicit in most
of the reportage is the dismissal of Brand – recently voted the world’s fourth
most influential thinker in a Prospect poll as a ‘celebrity’, whereas in his capacity as producer of YouTube
content and feature-length documentary the vacuity of fame alone being his sole defining characteristic hardly stands up,
regardless of whether it may ever have. To say nothing of the episode of The Trews’ content – the idiocy of the
prior speculation around endorsement and conversion speaks for itself – which
was to be expected (Brand does not renege on his position; Miliband argues his
points; there will be other interviews with leaders (of the Greens, for
example), dependant on who accepts the invitation), the Labour spokesperson who
stated nothing more than that Miliband ‘had done an interview on Monday night’ brings
us closest here to an analytical vantage-point.

The treatment of The Trews, in this statement, as a media outlet, and of Brand as a
journalistic interlocutor, is alien enough to the rest of the hyperbolic
reaction from the mainstream TV and print news organisations – who see
themselves, or rather endlessly strive to present themselves, as journalistic
interlocutory media outlets – to show up clearly the very mechanisms at work
here: the hegemonic attempt at expulsion of The
Trews
(and anything like it) from recognition as media or journalism. An expulsion, that is, from a carefully
crafted ‘objectivity’, the definition
of which mainstream media has itself imposed, in an attempt to delimit
parameters of public perception.

When Mark
Fisher
talks of ‘the picture the reality managers have fed us for the last few years –
the three ‘big’ parties each offering a slightly different version of
capitalist realism’ – he thus highlights very precisely what has been at stake
not only in the manufacturing of a political assertion that has been slid into
the place of ‘objectivity’ (i.e., ‘capitalism is realism’) post-Crash, but also the occurrence of this in media
representation surrounding this election, and of course in reportage generally.
To bring what has been perceived as voterly vacillation (based on the
occurrence of coalition and its likelihood again) back in here, it is maybe
because of the rise of ‘alternative’ media, like Brand’s Trews, but also like so many other online resources now, that the
voting populace is becoming politicised, or politics-literate (something
disenfranchising governments and elites have been happy to see low,

amongst certain populaces,

when seats
were safe). Indeed, this begs the question as to why our education and
established media institutions haven’t instilled this kind of political
engagement themselves previously in the public, and of what might have been
behind this disenfranchisement…

At a recent hustings
event a candidate for the Greens emphatically encouraged voting for ‘what you
believe in’; it is paradoxical that the voting system of Proportional
Representation, which the Greens are committed to (and which the treacherous
Liberal Democrats promised to have a referendum on, but then simply shrugged
off when in ‘power’) would be needed to be in place a priori for this to be really possible. Thus, the recognition, and then
dismantling, of tactical-voting realism and hegemonic media-manufactured ‘objectivity’,
through a rise in alternativism, might be our best hope for ushering in a
challenge to the state of affairs which Brand has described as the ‘rigged game’.

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