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I've written about this before, have been saying it for years and will continue to say it over and over and over again until it sinks in:

What we are watching on that YouTube video embedded above, what Bob Cesca describes today on his blog, is an IMPROV ACT. It is nothing more or less than a scene in an elaborate, ongoing, endless, perpetual, well-funded, well-orchestrated, non-stop 24/7 production of improvisational theatre, in which the performers get to make up the story as they go along and perform it for the audience. The person called "Jeanine Pirro" that we see and hear on the TV screen, is an actress, a character in a play. This is not a real person saying real things. She's an actress in character doing a performance piece.

Whether the audience knows that it's watching improv or not is irrelevant to the actors, directors and producers of the act, as long as the money keeps coming in. Of course, most members of that audience do not know, realize, or really care, that they're watching improv; they think they're watching The News. They then become unwitting (or in some cases, witting) performers in that aforementioned improv act, not just its audience. It's "The Truman Show" in reverse.

Some of us may remember The Truman Show. The 1998 film directed by Peter Weir starred Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, an unwitting performer in a 24-hour television show that is all about him. See, Truman was "adopted" at birth by the production company, raised in a fictional town called "Seahaven" that was built and existed entirely within the confines of an enormous geodesic dome, the World's Largest Television Studio containing hundreds and hundreds of hidden cameras, in which everything from buildings and cars to the sun and the weather could be controlled by the production crew, and everyone except Truman -- including his parents, his wife, his best friend, his coworkers, &c. -- was an actor or an extra.

Setting aside how unrealistic this all is, and without devolving into a critique of the film itself, the conceit of "The Truman Show" (i.e., the TV show portrayed in the film The Truman Show) is that Truman doesn't know he's on TV, doesn't know he's being "watched" 24 hours a day, doesn't know that everyone around him is an actor and that much if not all of what they do and say is scripted and directed from behind the scenes. As far as Truman is concerned, this is real life and the people around him -- i.e., the characters they play -- are real people, his relationships and interactions with them entirely real and genuine. The appeal of the show to its audience, as portrayed in the film, is that Truman is not an actor and that his responses and actions are completely natural; although certain events are set in motion and guided by the writers, producers and cast, and Truman is subtly and clandestinely kept on a very short leash (such as by preventing him from ever wanting or being able to leave Seahaven), the show is more unpredictable than the typical character-centered TV drama.

Truman's whole life is a play. The actors and extras on "The Truman Show" are basically performing an improv act around Truman, 24 hours a day, every day of his life. The producers of the show created a self-contained world for him to live in and interact with, controlling everything he sees, hears, experiences, and knows, without him ever being aware of it or of them, of who the people around him and everyone he's ever known or encountered -- including his loved ones -- really are.  

The difference between "The Truman Show" as portrayed in the movie and what we see on "Fox News" every day (such as the ugly fact-challenged rant by this character named "Jeanine Pirro" in the video above) is that Truman himself is not on the show. The audience does not tune in to watch Truman and see what happens; the audience is Truman. They don't know that they're watching improv. Just as Truman can't tell the difference between actors/characters and real people, Fox's audience in large part can't tell the difference between an improv act called "News," and news. And like Truman, they're actually unwittingly performing the act on behalf of the producers and directors, taking to the Internet day after day to write, argue and rant about whatever the actors are presenting to them, treating and regarding it as if it were actual reality, and of course, voting Republican (viz., voting for the economic interests of the act's producers, directors and performers).

[As a side note, rants like Pirro's might also be regarded as a form of hypnosis -- another category of performance art. Some of what Pirro is saying here, and a lot of things we hear from other "Fox News" improv actors/characters like "Sean Hannity" and "Bill O'Reilly," have a sort of creepy Repeat-After-Me quality to them. "Repeat after me: The President is weak. Repeat after me: Terrorism is on the rise. Repeat after me: The President lied about Benghazi. Repeat after me: Iraq is Obama's fault." And so forth. Then the audience obediently takes to the blogs and comment threads and repeats whatever they've been programmed to believe.]

This is not to say I don't think it's important to keep pointing out, reviewing and dissecting the verbal and intellectual detritus that this traveling improvisational-theatre troupe, and its actors/characters like "Jeanine Pirro," produce on a daily basis. The fact that its audience doesn't know they're watching improv makes that critical. But we must start consistently calling it, and treating it like, what it is. We need to put "Fox News" in quotes or italics the same way we'd put the name of any other fictional television program. We need to start calling it the "Fox News" Improv Channel or the "Fox News" Improvisational Theatre Company. We need to start referring to people like Pirro, O'Reilly, Hannity, Kelly and the rest as "Fox News" performer [X] or "Fox News" actor/actress [Y] or "Fox News" character [Z].

Thankfully, the audience for the "Fox News" improvisational theatre production does not appear to be growing, and may in fact be shrinking. But as long as it's there we need to call it what it is.

Originally posted to GrafZeppelin127 on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 09:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Judge Jeanine: Love the air quotes. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    Also, get a life.

  •  Thanks for the interesting diary! (6+ / 0-)

    I think some of the actors, O'Really for example, are just being themselves, sadly.

    As Les Claypool said, " ...to formulate opinions from what I see is a joke, because American TV is owned by Pepsi and by Coke.

    Watching the talking heads on TV makes me ill. They are ignorant and bad actors.

  •  I think most rightwingnutjobz scripts need a name (7+ / 0-)

    From Fox to Breitbart, from World News Daily to Washington Times, from Glenn Beck to Limbaugh, etc., ad nauseum, the broadcast and published material is fantasy, fairy tale, made-up blather generated by narrative fabricators.

    We should call their nonsense "poli-sci fi" because it is political science fiction.

    They just make stuff up out of nothing.

    We're all just working for Pharaoh.

    by whl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 05:03:11 PM PDT

    •  Or just "Poli-fi" (5+ / 0-)

      Surely there's no science, real or pretend, to their screeds.

      •  There's rarely much science in Political Science (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jon Sitzman

        But your point is well taken.

        The rightwing fantasies have become so bizarre DKos writers are trying to distinguish among maniacs, psychopaths, sociopaths, etc.

        We're all just working for Pharaoh.

        by whl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 09:19:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I like that; "Poli-Fi" = political fiction. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OleHippieChick, Jon Sitzman

        I may use that.

      •  Or: RiWi-fi (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jon Sitzman

        Since on the left wing our politics tend to revolve around facts.

        The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

        by nicteis on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 06:42:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not for nothing, but that's exactly what right- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jon Sitzman, Max Udargo

          wingers say.

          I've been hearing for years; "Conservatism is based in facts; liberalism is based on feelings." It's nonsense, of course, but to them it's a self-evident truth.

          I don't know that the problem is that one side's "politics tend to revolve around facts" and the other side's doesn't. I think there's a deeper problem relating to our collective metacognitive understanding not just of what are "facts," but what "facts" are.

          A "fact" inside the paracosm is delusional nonsense out here -- and vice-versa. How do we tell the difference?

          •  Well, for one thing, there's the scientific method (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            flevitan

            Our side accepts the validity of evolution and global warming; theirs doesn't.  So there's that.

            There are some reasonably hard-edged facts in the realm of economics as well. Their side clings to fundamentalist free market theory, and to simple theoretical models. Thus they always confidently declare that raising the minimum wage will always raise unemployment - even though there are myriad examples to the contrary. And that reducing taxes and government expenditures will always increase employment and GDP - even though we have the textbook experiment of Wisconsin in front of us.  They have their theories, which confidently make certain predictions. When the predictions fail, the facts are ignored and the theories ride on triumphant.  See any and all Krugman columns for endless examples.

            On our side, a "fact" is something that leads to valid predictions. On their side, a "fact" is something Fox News has repeated a sufficient number of times. And that's how you tell the difference.

            The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

            by nicteis on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not to be oppositional or play devil's advocate, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              fmprof

              but you could just as easily reverse this:

              Our side accepts the validity of God and Christian values; theirs doesn't.  So there's that.

              There are some reasonably hard-edged facts in the realm of economics as well. Their side clings to big-government socialism theory, and to simple theoretical models. Thus they always confidently declare that government programs and handouts will eliminate poverty and hunger - even though there are myriad examples to the contrary. And that raising taxes and increasing regulations will always increase employment and GDP - even though we have the textbook experiment of California in front of us.  They have their theories, which confidently make certain predictions. When the predictions fail, the facts are ignored and the theories ride on triumphant.  See any and all Krauthammer columns for endless examples.

              On our side, a "fact" is something that leads to valid predictions. On their side, a "fact" is something MSNBC has repeated a sufficient number of times. And that's how you tell the difference.

              I think what you're describing is the difference between ideological and pragmatic thinking; between deriving solutions from ideological predilections versus from practical considerations. That's not quite the same thing.

              Personally, my method is a lot simpler: Just determine which version of reality sounds reasonable. Is it reasonable to believe that a U.S. President is planning to round up "Christians" and send them to death camps? No. Is it reasonable to believe that "end-of-life counseling" means "death panels" that decide whether you live or die? No. Is it reasonable to believe that an organization no one had ever heard of before 2008 managed to arrange over 10 million fraudulent votes in that year's presidential election? No.

              Are we hearing anything from the other side that is that ridiculous? No.

              That's what does it for me; too much stuff coming from that side that's just not reasonable, that no reasonable person would believe. Stuff that even if you don't know the facts, if you don't have the time or ability to specifically debunk, you just know is not true because it can't be.

    •  You've left out CNN, MSNBC etc. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      flevitan

      There isn't one honest news source on American TV now.

      Sheryl was interviewed the other day on the Newshour and stated that CBS doesn't even have an investigative reporter left. She goes on further to state that there is no place left in MSM for an investigative reporter.

      Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson opened up on Sunday about her recent resignation from the network and the "unprecedented" restrictions that journalists face under the Obama administration.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

      Coloring this diary as solely a Fox News diatribe is ridiculous. We're living in an Orwellian State.

      Attkisson also called out the press for being "very shy" about challenging the Obama administration, and added that she did not encounter that kind of timidness when she covered the Bush administration. She said both the restrictions on the press and the secrecy under the Obama administration are "aggressive" and "unprecedented"

      •  Attkisson fabricated the "Fast & Furious" fantasy (0+ / 0-)

        She reported repeatedly that the rifle(s) that killed Brian Terry were very near him in the dirt. Neither of them have ever been "proven" as the murder weapons.

        She reported that those 2 rifles came from the Gun Walker or the Gun Runner operations. They did not. They were known to the FBI from a totally different and separate operation that was not connected to BATFE.

        She's a fraud.

        The Obama admin. did nothing to her or about her. They just let her own fakery catch up in the fact checker sites.

        We're all just working for Pharaoh.

        by whl on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 05:20:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  interesting... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jon Sitzman

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 06:01:22 PM PDT

  •  Like the TV "Programs" in Fahrenheit 451. (7+ / 0-)

    When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

    by keyscritter on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 06:33:57 PM PDT

  •  Hannity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, NYmama, Jon Sitzman

    has said on more than one occasion, "I'm an entertainer, not a reporter." Usually when caught spewing one of his more egregious lies. O'Rielly, on the other hand actually does have a background in reporting. Though he's really nothing more than a newsreader, or as the 'Brits would say a "Presenter".

    Good points though, it doesn't matter whether the "actors" on stage believe what they're saying or not. As long as those watching are drinking the kool aid...

    "Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news. Which follows its own special rules." ~ Douglas Adams

    by coyote66 on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 10:26:29 PM PDT

  •  At work yesterday a colleague's head exploded (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, NYmama, Jon Sitzman

    when I said Fox News is un-American. He then said Fox represents the party of patriots. Then my head exploded.

  •  Uncle Fox's Campfire Stories? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jon Sitzman, Uncle Cosmo

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 06:52:58 AM PDT

  •  I've always used (0+ / 0-)

    "Faux News"
    "False News"
    "Fox Noise" - and from there the Yiff Channel
    "Faux Noise"

    and "News" is just a brand name.

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 02:07:16 PM PDT

  •  The Daily Show did a bit where they compiled (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flevitan

    snippets of news shows across the country parroting the same line.  I think it was before Christmas and it was about buying yourself gifts.  Anyway, their take was that we have a corporate-controlled media with a few corporations pulling the strings.  My take was that the newscasters were actors that play newscaster on TV (and they are all now just reading the same script).

    "Wrong, Do it again!" "If you don't learn to compete, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't learn to compete?" "You! Yes, you occupying the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

    by ban48 on Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 05:16:12 PM PDT

    •  Its a pretty amazing segment- I think you mean (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban48

      this one from Conan.

      http://www.youtube.com/...

      •  yup - that one. It hit me they are just actors. (0+ / 0-)

        The word 'controlled' doesn't even apply.  It is like saying Mel Gibson is 'controlled' by the director.  To an extent, of course he is.  He gets paid to read a script and play a character on TV or in a movie.  Likewise with the news-casters.

        "Wrong, Do it again!" "If you don't learn to compete, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't learn to compete?" "You! Yes, you occupying the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"

        by ban48 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:26:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've long argued (0+ / 0-)

    that the model for FOX News is the tabloid model, not the newspaper model. FOX News is the television equivalent of the lurid rags at the checkout line. What they do is not journalism and it's kind of foolish to argue about their "journalistic standards" or to be shocked by anything they say. Rupert Murdoch was, after all, a tabloid magnate before he went into television.

    But I like this Truman Show analogy. It emphasizes the deception and falseness of it all, and how it is designed to manipulate and control a person's view of reality for commercial purposes. And it's more fitting for the medium.

    Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I like it. Excellent observation.

  •  She sounds like an angry drunk at a cheap dive bar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flevitan

    She's horrid (Jeanine Pirro). You have tainted my day with the new knowledge of her existence!

    I love the concept of Truman Sow in reverse. Thanks.

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