The Truman Show Does Not Tell You What To Think, It Tells You What To Think About
You will not think about whatever it doesn't want to think about
Josh Slocum has a lot of very interesting things to say about death.
Until he was cancelled for gender-based wrongthink, Slocum worked as an advocate for public awareness about the rights of the bereaved. Did you even know that you have rights when you have just lost a loved one?
Despite being a pretty gross topic, like CovidⓇ, your own death turns out to be a fascinating topic, just like CovidⓇ.
Slocum was considered such an expert that when the media mania happened, reporters frantically got in touch with him. He talked about it with therapist Stephanie Winn on her podcast this week when “the so-called pandemic” (his words) inevitably came up in a discussion about death.
The podcast is two hours long and worth your time. Here is the money quote:
Look how easy it is to scare the living daylights out of people. Remember in the beginning of the so-called pandemic where everyone was terrified because of news showing us pictures of refrigerated morgue trucks outside of crematories in New York City and California? I don’t know if you noticed this, but I did, because I was the one getting the calls from the press when all this was new. ‘They’ve got more trucks! There are so many bodies out there! The crematories can’t stay on top of them! They’ve got more! Did you know there’s refrigrated trucks?’ And I’m just sitting here going, ‘Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah, there’s refrigerated trucks. The whole world’s falling apart. Yeah.’ The reality is, there are always refrigerated morgue trucks outside of crematories in cities in some states, all the time, that you’ve never heard about before, because this is the business of death. There are times when the local city or county has too many bodies and the local crematory can’t process them quickly enough, and so they bring in a refrigerated morgue truck. That truck that you see down the street, that is unmarked, might just have dead bodies in it. And this has been going on your entire life and you never knew it.
Reader, put yourself in the place of a reporter whose entire profession believes that the end of the world is nigh. The editor is demanding stories on anything related to the Pandemic™.
Increased mortality, and increased attention to mortality, magnify the human fear of mortality. Disease heuristics take over. Those are fancy words for saying that your evolved, innate powers of avoiding infection kick into place. This process takes 1/25th the energy and time that cognition requires. Those are fancy words for saying that we act in response to perceived disease before we even have time to think.
Add the pressures of a newsroom, and the social sharing, click-driven model that legacy media relies on in the 24-hour global news cycle, and no conspiracy is required: you, the reporter, have Josh Slocum in your
Rolodex address book, and you have confirmed that there are morgue trucks parked at crematoria in your city, so you call him looking for a quote, and to fish for more story.
Call it the madness of the media crowd. If it bleeds, it leads, we used to say of the old news, where sensational crime stories were always lead headlines. Our media landscape has changed in many ways, but many of the changes have only magnified the motives and biases that already existed.
Studying for my political science undergrad, I learned the dictum that media doesn’t really tell us what to think. Rather, our media sources tell us what to think about.
It also follows that if the media does not want to think about something, it will not tell us to think about it. Their avoidance of, say, the consequences of “gender self-ID” becomes our own avoidance. Think of the Twitter Files as evidence of an avoidance strategy. Slocum didn’t mention avoidance strategies by name, but they were present in the discussion and they have come up in the course of his Disaffected podcast. (You can find him on Substack.)
There are, in turn, certain things that we all want to think about, and things we don’t want to contemplate. We have our own avoidance mechanisms and so do journalists and editors. (Guilty.) None of this excuses what has happened, or exonerates any media figure, or represents a call for amnesty. Motives do matter. On the contrary, Slocum’s observation points to how easily manipulated we all really are, including the media, and how our warped modern relationship with death is a big part of what made us weak to both CovidⓇ and the Pandemic™ media plague.
By the way, if it isn’t obvious by now, I am not Theo. This is Matt. I sometimes leave comments here and I talk to him in occasional Twitter spaces. Sometimes he gets busy and neglects you all, so I thought I’d help a little.
Stephanie Winn has interviewed me as well and I consider her a friend. I write for The Distance, a publication of LGB United, where I am the editor. The reader will note there are no extra letters or mathematical symbols in the name “LGB United.” At The Distance, we do not cover the gender identity gibberish in a daily doomscroll. We examine the emergence of LGBTQAlphanumerical identity politics as am historical process. We object to the falsehoods of ‘Queer History’. We are literally writing the book, the true history, of both “gender” and the long fight against its blinkered demands. It has been a longer struggle than most people realize, and that is an illustration of how the media curated our reception of it.
I also write about military history. “But what does that have to do with gender-garbage?” I hear you cry. Only everything. I’ll be around.
Theo is bashful about asking people to like, share, subscribe, and consider a paid subscription to support this work. Do I need to raise my voice to get you to click?