Friday, June 10, 2005

White slavery?

Washington Monthly points out what anyone with even a passing familiarity with cultural studies must have noticed right away: that the lurid media coverage of missing girls (most recently "the Alabama teen") focuses almost exclusively on the misfortunes of pulchritudinous young white women. It seems to me that Kevin actually makes less of this topic than he might.

Kevin presents this subject, mainly, as an example of the MSM's vapidness, suggesting that these stories are primarily an example of how the media, under the guise of providing "news, are in fact merely chasing advertising dollars by focusing on a story that has the natural drama of almost centainly ending either happily or grimly. In essense, Kevin thinks this is just a form of reality TV, but with even less "framing" than you get with, say, "Big Brother."

But alas, this seems to me to miss the deeper, more sinister point. For the media's obsession with the plight of pretty white women is not just a symptom of media banality; indeed, to look at it this way begs the question of why the media focus on this sort of trivial drama. The reason the media sees money in focusing on young white women possibly abducted by swarthy males subtle is that such story lines tap and inflame longstanding and sinister cultural dynamics rooted in what can perhaps best be described as Red State racial and sexual anxieties. These anxieties have their roots in the sociopsychopathologies of race-based slave society, and have provided much of the energy behind many of the morals legislation and campaigns which make America seem so peculiar to foreigners. (Nor have these campaigns been without issue, the most famous instance being the Mann Act, the so-called "white slavery act.")

These kinds of stories generally pander to the country's most know-nothing racial anxieties, and thus promote the very things that make this country most unpleasant.

1 comment:

Marc said...

This is to inform you that this blog post has been included in History Carnival #10.

Thanks for writing about history!