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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sometimes, it takes sarcasm and wicked wit to get a painful point across

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Walski's always been a big fan of Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show. If you've ever been to the United States anytime this decade, you'll realize that the domestic version of CNN the average American gets to see, is very, very different from the CNN the rest of the world knows. And you haven't seen bias until you've watched mainstream, domestic American media.

The domestic US version is extremely America-centric, and ever since the Bush 2 administration took over from Bill Clinton, the mainstream American media has generally been very, very skewed towards promoting right-wing opinion.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where Jon Stewart stands on important issues. Some may see his devil-may-care wit and biting sarcasm as being insolent, making light of important issues. But his brand of off-the-cuff, off-the-beaten-track reporting underlines the irony, farcical, and, to some exent, deceitful nature of American domestic mainstream media. Most of all, he wants his audience to think.

Take this report, for example.

If you've ever lived in the US, like Walski has for a number of years, you would realize that common, on-the-street Americans, generally, are not the evil hate-mongers that much of the rest of the world thinks them to be. The real US, is very different from the one seen by the rest of this planet, through sensationalist TV series and films, and through the idiot politicians that occassionally represent the nation (yes, there be idiot politicians everywhere).

In fact, the ordinary American is a pretty decent creature, living, to their own detriment, governed by a not-so-decent government. Lack of decency, that is, in terms of foreign, and even domestic policy.

And the mainstream media, believe it or not, is the government's handy tool of deception. How?
(more in the full post)

The United States of America is more than just a country - it's an entire continent almost. And like a continent, it is quite diverse from one state to the next. Just like Europe, where France is very different from Spain, which is way different from the Ukraine.

And because of its sheer size, the US is pretty much isolated from the rest of the world. Apart from the handful of tourists and academicians that make it to non-Eurocentric parts of the world, the majority of the population only know about the rest of the world from what they see on TV, or read in the papers.

And so, when you have mainstream media that portrays a very one-sided view of issues - not only portrays, it incessantly pounds certain selected viewpoints into the psyche of the American people day in, day out, 24/7 - the average American's view of the world becomes pretty skewed as well.

Walski has noticed that there is one thing we Malaysians have in common with the Americans: gullibility. Yes, gullibility. For the average American, it is in believing lock-stock what the mainstream media bombards them with day after day. Walski probably doesn't need to elaborate much about how Malaysians are gullible.

Having seen more of the world than just Kuala Lumpur, or the boundaries of this nation, this continent even, one realization becomes crystal: go to any inhabited place on this little rock we call planet Earth, you will find good people, and there will also be the not-so good people. Every nation, bar none, has its share of both.

The good news is that, in general, the good people outnumber the bad. The bad news? The good people, being good people, are quite easily swayed to believe in whatever the mainstream media tells them.

And that, in turn shapes how the rest of the world sees them.

These days, we Malaysians are being told that only the mainstream Malaysian media has credibility, and that alternative news sources don't. And that Malaysians should only accept what the mainstream media has to report. Or else.

But just today, Jeff Ooi's Screenshots has disclosed how The Star had editorialized one reader's letter, almost entirely changing what the reader had to say, so as to paint an establishment-friendly picture.

Mainstream media more credible? You tell me. In Walski's book, this is called deceit. But as Walski has mentioned previously, no media is without bias.

Jon Stewart, Walski very proud notes, is a liberal. And his views are contrary to the mainstream, officially sanctioned public opinion; as far as America is concerned. And because we are outside the US, we know that despite his non-traditional way of news reporting, the truth rises above the comedic presentation.

In a very small, insignificant way, myAsylum is irreverant, sometimes comedic (or tries to be), but always has a real story to tell. Trying hard to pull the mainstream wool from over your eyes. If only we could see ourselves, for what we are, from the outside - only then do we realize how different the world sees us, from how we see ourselves from within.

But to be able to see ourselves in a different light, a certain level of dissent, free speech, and leaway is required. Different doesn't always mean bad, dissent not always disobedience. Exactly the sort leaway that allows divergent views, such as Jon Stewart's, to see the light of day. And non-mainstream, sometimes, can relay more truth than what the mainstream is allowed to.

And it's truth, after all, that will set our shackled minds free.