Friday, July 07, 2006

The media has been screwed up for a long time...

We all know the story of Hearst and the Spanish American War, and via Pharyngula I have come to know the story of H.L. Mencken and Millard Filmore's Bathtub, and the new eponymous history blog.

It also reminds me of what I was seeing as I was finally watching the PBS documentary on Bob Dylan the other night.

Bob Dylan was villified in the conventional press for a long time, and deified in the "alternative" press; Dave Marsh was an example of the latter.

Yet two things came out in this show that were never, in the 40+ years of Dylan in the media, never widely reported:

1. Dylan was a hard worker. That's how he became famous. He worked hard, obsessively hard, and studied many, many other musicians. He was talented, and the talent was refined through his hard work. But that was completely counter to the narrative that a beatnik/hippie was a lazy good-for-nothing.

2. Bob Dylan dealt with the media the way they desrved to be treated, and the media obliged by distorting what he was saying. In one bit in the show, in a press conferenc in the 60s, a Brit photographer/reporter asks Dylan to put his glasses in his mouth, to probably simulate a "pensive" look. Dylan responds by noting that that would be a weird gesture, and invites the reporter to do what he has just suggested, something any of us would love to do if we were dealing with the media. Dylan, honorably, or naievely, just didn't care what the media said and printed.

So why should we expect anything more of the media today?

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