A New Spin on Media Effects

by Jonathan Sterne on June 20, 2007

I’m not a big fan of media effects theory (other than the 3rd person effect), but my friend Carol Stabile has an interesting article in the works on what would happen if we started applying media effects theory to elite white men in government — instead of to marginalized groups, who are usually its subject.

Yes, perhaps conservative elites are more likely to believe what they see on TV than the rest of us, and to have difficulty separating fact from fiction — two of the main concerns about the effects of television on children, for instance. Don’t believe me? Here’s conservative judge Antoinin Scalia on the TV show 24:

Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge’s passing remark – “Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’ ” – got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

Full article here until they take it down.

Sure, and Batman saved Gotham City, but I wouldn’t want to make a judicial precedent out of it.

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