Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Impacting messages/images=no time to think

OK, the idea here is not to sound pedantic, shrill or alarmist.

But it is to help gain awareness of how what we watch and hear affects us so you can make choices about everything and anything you wish to expose yourself.

Basically, there are two types of media messages: impacting and linear.

Impacting messages are easy to recognize - they look and sound like they beat you over the head constantly and consistently, blast your eyes and ears senseless, take your breath away, leave you semi- to completely paralyzed, spur an adrenalin rush and leave you basically numb, but excited, believing you've actually seen something that means something because physiologically you're stirred, shaken and what's left of an sensory explosion.

Lots of films, video games and television programs with special effects and violent images attacking you ceaselessly, certain music, any sensation that pounds you nearly unconscious (thus the feeling of "escape"), it's all impacting.

What this means is simply anything that has this effect does not permit you to think - even for a moment - about what is done, said, flashed into your eyes, pounded in your ears.

The result can be the attention span of a gnat, the addiction to exciting and stimulating visual and/or audio experiences, the inability to create something because of an "entertain me or DIE" mentality, and more. Or should that be less.

We can only be pummeled so many times before we're stunted, stunned or injured in some way. Football players, boxers, UFC athletes, whoever puts themselves in the way of a bludgeoning - whether intellectually or physically - becomes brain damaged in some way without complete recovery between poundings.

Pound your forehead with your fist several times and you'll get a version of what your brain experiences - without realizing it if you're not aware. Aware? You start feeling it when it happens. Pow! Biff! Bam!

Even if you avoid video games, TRANSFORMERS, GI JOE and other films geared to stun you with hundreds of images, you can still be caught by good ol' TV - the "free," "safer" variety.

Commercials can be made in a way that impacts the viewer; more, as you watch one program and are interrupted by a louder message imploring you not to miss: the next program, the next episode, another show, a drug that will help you feel better, get better, get well, lose weight, eat hearty, eat junk food, eat fast food, eat fattening food, eat comfort food, avoid or deal with pain... and on it goes.

Kids' TV with cartoons and their commercials can be as bad or worse.

That's why folks who work in media generally refer to it as The Beast, because it's always demanding more and more and more impacting messages, programming and commercials.

They want to make an impact. They not only want to pound it into your mental being, they want you to remember it over all the thousands of other messages you're pounded with every single day.

Linear media is basically any message delivered that allows you to think about what it shows, says, sounds like, feels like, how it impacts you, how you can explore, learn and follow up on what you've experienced.

The impacting message is generally left as it is, making the impression that it does, requiring or inspiring no response or possibly leaving the receiver so blown away/blown out there is no motivation or energy left to follow up. The message is left to smoulder in the receiver's mind, heart and soul with whatever elements are forever embedded - like information or image shrapnel.

That means the possibility of information/image wounds, infection and bacteria building into something that was never based on reality or anything meaningful to start with.

Reality TV is fraught with meaningless images and false or misleading "information" (not to be confused with facts) that media write about and we discuss over the water cooler - hitting the broadcasters' target behavior response: getting people to watch so advertisers will pay for the programming.

Reading anything is a linear experience because even if you "misread" what is written, you have the chance to review (re-view) it - which is impossible with impacting media. Impacting messages are designed never to be revisited, but only to be built on with other impacting images and sounds.

A still photo is a linear experience because you can look at it and reflect on it as long as you wish; art - paintings, drawings, sculpture, dancing, theater, and non-uber impacting films are a linear experience as well.

Video art is generally intended to be impacting, though at its conclusion you may have time to reflect on what you've seen, what you believe the artist wanted to say.

Films planned to only blast you away without any meaningful content counts on your only response being, "Wow! That was really something!"

In real life, impacting messages (those that prevent you from reflecting or thinking about what is being said, but only leave you to become fixated on a heightened emotional response) happen when people try to shout down anyone attempting to talk about an issue.

Right wing opponents of President Obama's health care plan are typical of this. We discover many of them are not "just folks" as they say they are, but are bona fide Republican operatives who only want to make people crazy with emotion to shut down any discussion - preventing anyone from actually thinking about and discussing the facts. Death threats are the epitome of impacting messages designed to prevent any thoughtful discussion and preventing the truth about anything reaching the people who need it most.

Actually creating something - whether it's a photograph, a bird house, a story, a work of art, a drawing, a painting (even by numbers!), anything crafty, wood carving, origami, making a clay pot, sewing anything, making a quilt, cooking, a dance, learning a monologue, being in a play, learning a song, writing a song, play, screenplay, book, poetry, fixing a car - all linear experiences for the creator and the audience.

Doing these sorts of things all help create the balance we need to keep our minds from becoming a thoughtless desert filled with meaningless images and drivel if we expose ourselves to major amounts of crap pounded into our brains. The moment you don't want to think at all when you're watching a movie or a video game - the moment you actually say to yourself, "Entertain me or DIE!" you know you're in trouble.

Deal is, as long as we monitor how much impacting media to which we allow our kids - and ourselves - to be exposed, and make sure we are good role models in reflecting and evaluating what we read, view and listen to - it's all good!

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