Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Man Bites Dog 1912- 2012



I'm writing this while watching French Open men's quarterfinals. One match on RDS, the Tsonga Dhoweveryouspellhisname match and the other on TSN. I'm pulling for the underdogs, of course. In my younger days, I would have pulled for the most handsome guy, but they are all handsome from my middle aged point of view.

Anyway, there have been a number of gruesome stories in the press, one in particular with a Montreal/international slant.

Canadian Psycho and someone else Leonardo could play - if he were younger.

And that's the point. Television ratings prove that the public has an appetite for bloody stories and the line between fiction and non fiction is getting more and more blurred.

The news media (outside of Tabloid) used to be above this, when they were not about money and ratings. (See Clooney's movie Good Night and Good Luck.)

Now, we're sinking so low - and, as Arianna Huffington pointed out recently, the Twitterphere seems to be guiding the news agenda. Talk about lowest common denominator.

Anyway, here's my cue to bring up that Journalism staple. Dog bites man isn't a news story. Man bites dog is.

The problem is, in this political climate. the politicians are metaphorically speaking, using the Man bites dog stories  in the media to put through legislation equivalent too: EVERY HUMAN MUST WEAR A MUZZLE.

I've been writing a series of digital books about women in the 1910 era. Threshold GirlDiary of a Confirmed Spinster and Biology and Ambition.

The women are all teachers.

In the 1910 era a myth prevailed in the media, women's side. Any job was open to women. Women had won that right. If I read it once, I read it a hundred times in the magazines. Feminists like Carrie Derick shouted it out. Even the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica claimed the same.

But statistics prove quite the opposite. Working class women worked in factories, or as domestics, middle class women as teachers or stenographers. Sure, there were a few women working in almost every profession, a lawyer, a doctor, a welder, a fisherwoman here and there. But THEY WERE THE EXCEPTION.

So, what was the prevailing social policy:to train women to be domestics and housekeepers. Why, because the rich were finding it hard to get good help!

That's why these stories were covered in the media. It was a Man bites dog story! Sort of like saying because there's a Black President, Blacks in the US have made it.