Category Archives: Media

PakiBash, 2.0: How Postmodern Racism Enables Systemic Decay

The renaissance of racism was one topic that we at Mediolana did not except to be writing about in the late summer of 2017, but with the rise of authoritarian populism in both key developed economies and emerging markets – and a nod to the 16-bit cult video game PakiBash – it makes perfect sense to elucidate the mechanics of this phenomenon.

Contemporary postmodern racism – while certainly not excluding the possibility of physical violence – is a predominantly virtual beast. But it has far-reaching real-world consequences, including ’tilting’ elections, the dehumanisation of out-groups and – crucially – guaranteed decline. Here’s how it works:

  1. Activate ad campaigns. The media is critical in creating a fecund climate for postmodern racism. It does this by running increasingly shrill stories which make popular scapegoats synonymous with structural economic and social problems that they have little-to-no tenable causative connection with, especially vis-à-vis the rest of the population. Wildly inaccurate extrapolations from unrepresentative examples are routinely deployed in this phase.
  2. Increase the heat. The next step – in which the media often (though not always) plays the roles of both cheerleader and instigator – is to claim that in an era when hate speech has become the defining wallpaper of our digital culture, ‘ordinary people’ are somehow being silenced from expressing hate speech. This has the effect of getting people to adopt confrontational demeanours, raising the temperature far beyond rationality.
  3. Airbrush inconvenient facts. That EU migration constitutes a vast economic subsidy to, say, the finances of the United Kingdom – a net benefit of £8.8bn from 1995 to 2011, as opposed to a £604.5bn drain on the exchequer during the same period by British nationals – is something that must be flushed down the memory hole. Sexual abuse – something which numerous high-profile cases have demonstrated is tragically institutionalised at all levels of UK society – is, somehow, to be construed as solely committed by people with darker skin tones and ‘alien’ names working in the margins of the nighttime economy.

Postmodern racism is, in many senses, a quite brilliant stratagem. And to certain population demographics, this new and improved form of Paki-bashing will doubtless provide that surge of adrenalin which is otherwise presumed missing from their existences.

However, it does not actually solve any of the problems it purports to explain. Quite the reverse: (i) it infantilises sections of the general public by conning them into believing that their own deficiencies – such as catastrophically low levels of educational attainment – can be remedied by blaming abstract entities; (ii) it deliberately polarises and degrades political discourse; and (iii) it gives a Get Out of Jail Free card to the taxpayer-funded agencies whose performance and policies have been central in engendering systemic decay.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, Media, Psychology

Nightmare on Fleet Street: Journalists ‘Usurped By Robots’! #ArtificialIntelligence

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Technology

Laughing All the Way to the VakıfBank: Women’s Volleyball’s Power Centre Shifts East!

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Volleyball

ShareBear Run: Dortmund Bus Bomber ‘Was Russo-German Financial Speculator’!

Leave a comment

Filed under Football, Media, Psychology

All Apologies: Germany’s #1 Newspaper Caught Up in #FakeNews Farrago!

Leave a comment

Filed under Media

Always Take the Weather With You: What Fanny Agostini Tells Us About Product Premiumisation #Business

fanny-agostini-31-01-2017-1

Contemporary economies are characterised by a super-abundance of goods and services, and in these attention-scarce environments, one of the biggest challenges faced by manufacturers and providers is the simple task of differentiation: making their offerings distinctive (and, into the bargain, augmenting their essential appeal to consumers).

It is at this point that we at Mediolana wish to insert the unlikely figure of Fanny Agostini. Agostini is a weather forecast presenter at the Paris-based news network BFM TV, and at first glance would not necessarily appear to be a font of corporate wisdom on how to navigate competitive markets. But this exacting task is precisely what she has accomplished.

Agostini operates in an industry – the supply of weather predictions – which is notoriously crowded. People can get their forecast fix from a vast range of sources: newspapers; weather-related smartphone apps; and countless radio, television and Internet outlets, all of which do not stint on informing their audiences of the likelihood or otherwise of sunshine and showers.

But notwithstanding these relentless rivals, Agostini – an alumnus of Paris media college STUDEC – has become not merely a celebrity in her native France (her weather forecasts attract a disproportionately high number of viewers), but a minor worldwide web sensation. And after some contemplation, we at Mediolana think that Ms Agostini’s rise to prominence is no accident, instead owing much to her adoption of the following three market differentiation mechanisms which can turn generic into magic:

  1. Aesthetics and Apparel. Part of the reason behind the BFM TV icon’s success is doubtless linked to the fact that she is very pleasant to look at. But in the image-defined world of television, this is not exactly a unique attribute. What is more unusual is Agostini’s wardrobe and make-up, which emphasise her understated chic while skilfully accentuating her svelte shape; a lot of thought has gone into elevating this brand element.
  2. Artistry. However, where Agostini really comes into her own is in the crafted enthusiasm with which she brings us the climate conditions to come. In particular, her arm movements – smooth, direct and focused – are something out of a ballet theatre as opposed to a Paris television studio. The enjoyment that she derives from her work is palpable – and infectious.
  3. Attention to Detail. At BFM TV, Agostini has partnered with a broadcasting team which spares no effort in the animation studios: their weather icons, notably those representing rain and snow, are amongst the best we have ever seen, and help bring to life a slot which is generally treated as a prosaic appendage to other programmes.

fanny-agostini-31-01-2017-2

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Media

Transparency, International: Five Reasons Why Monocle’s Annual Soft Power Survey Needs Reexamining

img_1567

Firmly entrenched as we now are in the era of emergent big data, barely a week seems to pass without some kind of new rankings list – in areas from academic attainment to public transportation system safety – being published. Many of these are indubitably worthy, but one of the great recent additions to this panoply is Monocle’s Soft Power Survey (‘MSPS’). The MSPS orders countries by their performance in the arena of soft power, a concept that encompasses fields such as culture, education and innovation, and which deserves far greater prominence, particularly when contrasted with its costly and increasingly insane military counterpart.

This being said, for any index to carry a high level of authority, its rankings have to be both comprehensible and justifiable; on reading its latest iteration (Power Play, 12/16-01/17), we at Mediolana – after some contemplation – think there are at least five reasons why Monocle’s Soft Power Survey desperately requires reexamination (and quite possibly recalibrating):

  1. We’re Number One. The United States (position: 1) has been placed at the pinnacle of the index after a year in which its political system has – after decades of decline – well-and-truly jumped the shark, with much of the rest of the world looking on in much the same way as observers to a car crash. This choice alone jeopardises the value of the entire index, and begs the question: what exactly would the US have to do to rank poorly? In truth, Brand America has arguably never quite recovered from the humanitarian and fiscal sinkhole of the present series of Middle Eastern conflicts; how Monocle can attribute more weight to a Beyoncé album than to (unmentioned) deep structural problems is a genuine mystery.
  2. Oh, Those Russians. Almost as baffling as America’s ascension to the top of the MSPS is Russia’s non-placement – it does not make the cut of 25 ranked nations. Again, this seems scarcely credible: the Russian Federation has won the hosting rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, arguably the most potent soft power event of all; moreover, the nation clearly punches above its weight in the news media sector, even if not all its organs are necessarily outlets of record. And in sectors as diverse as fashion (think: Irina Shayk) and education (where there is a serious, long-term plan to propel its HE sector into the elite category), Russia is enough of a player to make its exclusion from a soft power index difficult to understand.
  3. Blood on the Beachfront. Similar to the United States, Brazil (19) enjoys an augmented ranking in this year’s survey – and only Monocle knows why. 2016 saw its elected president removed from office in a manner which can charitably be described as eyebrow-raising; correspondingly massive and bitter protests; and no end in sight to the plague of senseless urban violence which casts a huge shadow over this undeniably beautiful country – and which means that Brazil at ‘peace’ rivals war-torn Syria when it comes to its annual tally of civilian murders. The ‘games’ element in the bread and games formula – soap operas, footballers and an invidious Summer Olympics – cannot paper over these these chasms.
  4. Soft Power ≠ Skiing. Austria (21) is many things – tidy, well-administered, efficient – but twenty-first century soft power giant it is not. A generally stable and functional political system aside, it is in fact a real struggle to think of any heavyweight soft power assets in this Alpine nation’s possession, so its inclusion in the MSPS – just behind China (20), but ahead of India (24) – does little to dispel the idea that this index is, at least in places, borderline arbitrary.
  5. Our Absent Friends. As well as Russia, there are other absentees from the Soft Power Survey which do not inspire confidence in the index’s criteria. Unlike Brazil (with which it shares a number of similarities), Mexico is a rapidly-developing culinary superpower; unlike Portugal (15), Turkey has both a twenty-four hour English-language international news network and a world-class airline; and unlike Poland (25), the United Arab Emirates is a country that connects the planet via Emirates and Etihad, and also contains no less than three global or regional hubs: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Basic computational errors such as these must be remedied if the MSPS – which surely merits a much, much wider audience – is to reach its full potential.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Media