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The media cliché and other pressing worries (by Carola)

February 22, 2011

Carola Chávez, who blogs at Como te iba contando (As I was telling you), posted a thoughtful critique of Venezuela’s state-run  television broadcaster, Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), that I felt worthy of English translation. I know little to nothing about Carola, but my understanding – based solely on her blog posts – is that she is a well educated, upper-middle class Caraqueño (ie. Caracan, one who lives in Caracas) who is generally supportive of Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution. If I’m correct, this would make her a somewhat rare specimen. I think it also makes her criticism worth noting. [UPDATE – Feb. 23: Carola let me know by email that she lives on Margarita Island, that there are more middle and upper-middle class Chavistas than it seems – since social pressures induce some to keep their votes secret (votan rojo calladitos) – and that her critiques of the Bolivarian process are read, noted, and generally well-received by PSUV supporters.]

The media cliché and other pressing worries

Lately I have the feeling that watching VTV is, at moments, like reading, for the thousandth time, a book of phonics, a little book directed to naïve beginners that repeats, over and over, the same perfect little phrases, all chewed up, all perfectly explained…

I don’t know how long they’re going to explain to us that Globovisión manipulates and lies, because we’ve understood that for awhile now. What many of us don’t understand is why our channel retransmits the lying channel that we decided not to watch. What, you missed what some failed Peruvian said on a channel in Miami that nobody watches? No worries, here we do the loser a favor and broadcast it, meanwhile there are so many things happening across the country that, due to time restrictions, we’re not going to broadcast for you.

Moreover, in that eagerness to take apart the mediated lies that, in the end, are only believed by those who want to believe them, we silence legitimate complaints, we relegate investigative journalism to a single side of history, where the same old bad guys are always the bad guys, and we already know which side they’re on. That’s why in the case of building fraud the scoundrels are the contractors and other private companies, but never the state institutions that spent years, maybe out of indolence, ignoring the claims of the victims and thus fertilizing the ground so that the fraud epidemic might vigorously prosper. In that eagerness to take apart lies we forget that it’s also possible to lie by omission.

We have a television where clichés flourish like a voracious vine that gropes words, concepts, and authors to the point where Galeano’s “upside down world”, out of weariness, ends up hollow.

And Vladimir Acosta no longer tells us stories that go beyond a few lines regarding “this day in history”, and of Luís Britto’s head, with luck, we see a hair once a year, and nobody even remembers the teacher Francisco Rivero that suddenly exited the airwaves “without contemplations” and without answers because not even Chávez himself knew what had gone on.

Meanwhile those who prosper are the audacious know-it-all analysts that don’t know anything, those true gurus of mediocracy that jump from the screen to the presidential press box where nobody called them, and there they encyst, always focused on the camera so that it’s known, so that you see that the showoff has arrived. So that you’re eaten up by the anxious certainty that something is going very wrong.

And if this deficient television is converted into a factory of candidates and a recycler of PSUV leaders, the anxious certainty becomes an unbearable nausea, especially when, in those crucial moments of the game, you encounter friends that, like members of the MUD [Mesa de la Unidad Democrática], believe that the revolution is made on TV like someone making a reality show.

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