SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – February 2004

Authenticity and the New Realism. Watching ITV's most recent and compelling atrocity, I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, one would be forgiven for buying wholeheartedly into Baudrillard's bleak perspective on our own construction and consumption of a hyper-modern non-real. Here is an entertainment which grabs more headlines than 'real' news, i.e. spontaneous rather than staged events, like wars and natural disasters, although of course the definition is blurred. And yet its sole component is the entirely contrived juxtaposition of a bunch of rather dim famous people, whose task is simply to be, to exist in front of the cameras in a bizarre parody of 'normal' reality. What is more disturbing is Baudrillard's point about the realm of pure simulacra being beyond parody, in that 'I'm a Celebrity …' is considered as newsworthy and therefore as real as an earthquake or a military coup. One is reminded of the protagonist's wife in Farenheight 451 who, when asked about the company she had entertained that evening replies "Oh, you know — the Gang", with an airy wave at the wall-encompassing TV screen. Full article.

How deep is your ecology? — The New Age versus the New Militants in hardline environmentalism. There is a stereotypical picture of the British Pagan's interest in the preservation of the environment. Beards, long hair, flowing clothes, excessive use of wind-chimes and language peppered with references to "Mother Earth", "the cosmos", "Oneness with the universe" or even "transcendence of the false ego to achieve union with nature" are recognisable facets of this stereotype. However, while it is undeniably true that the lighter element of "pagan" ecology is often used as an excuse to drink a lot of herbal tea and wear dream-catcher earrings, there are other pagan and pagan-influenced perspectives on environmental issues which are worthy of note. If not always valid as scientific hypotheses, pagan-influenced environmentalist theories offer a fascinating alternative to "conventional" (i.e. person-oriented rather than earth-oriented) ecology. Full article.

Naming and Praising. Yet another SIRC ‘Naming and Praising’ Award goes to Jeremy Laurance, the Independent’s Health Editor, for two of his recent articles. In a piece headed Health Check: ‘There was something strange about the study. The data appeared to contain much that was good news for drinkers’ on 2 February, he comments on a study published in the journal Addiction. Unlike other journalists who were content simply to parrot the ‘warning to women’ spin that the study’s authors chose to put on their findings, Laurance took the trouble to look at the data, which actually indicated that ‘heavier’ drinkers had a lower risk of heart disease and premature death than moderate drinkers. Full article.